Preparing for Your Next Trip to the Dentist

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What Not to Do When You Have a Gum Injury

Dentist Blog

Gum trauma comes in many forms. You might floss a little too hard, resulting in discomfort and a small amount of bleeding. This is not generally anything to be concerned about. But what about when the trauma is more serious? When you've had an accident that has caused a bleeding laceration on your gums, there are some things you should never do.

Don't Try to Stop the Bleeding with Paper

When you have a gum laceration, it might feel like common sense to try to stop that bleeding by applying pressure with something reasonably absorbent. You should not use toilet paper, a paper towel, or tissue for this purpose. The paper will quickly degrade and has the potential to leave foreign objects (remnants of paper) in the wound itself. It's simply too unhygienic for controlling bleeding after gum trauma. 

Instead: Use a piece of sterile gauze or even a damp tea bag. Gently bite down onto it to hold it into place, and change as needed (as it will eventually become soaked with blood and will reach its absorbent capacity).

Don't Attempt to Clean the Wound with Mouthwash

Mouthwash has antiseptic properties, and you need to clean that wound, so it makes sense to rinse with mouthwash, right? No. The alcohol content of the mouthwash will aggravate the wound, as will the other potential ingredients, such as menthol, eucalyptol, benzoic acid, along with any added flavourings. If the wound didn't hurt before, it will after you use mouthwash.

Instead: The wound should be gently irrigated, but instead of mouthwash, you should use salt water. Mix half a teaspoon of salt into a cup of warm water and gently swirl it inside your mouth, before spitting. Saltwater has antiseptic qualities without causing further pain and distress to the wound. 

Don't Dismiss the Injury as Nothing Serious

Obviously, if the wound bleeds for a prolonged period of time, and the pain is significant, then you'll need to get to an emergency dentist as soon as possible. But when the bleeding slows down and the discomfort fades away, you might assume that there has been no serious damage.

Instead: Schedule an appointment with your dentist so that the wound can be thoroughly inspected. Your teeth might have surface damage (chipped enamel) or structural damage (destabilisation of the tooth in its socket), and you might be blissfully unaware of the fact until much later when the issue becomes far more serious.

If there's any doubt about the severity of your gum trauma, then it's best to see an emergency dentist, since it's unwise to be cavalier about your dental health.

For more information on what to do about gum injuries, reach out to a local emergency dentist


14 April 2020