What to Do if Your Child Cuts Their Labial Frenulum?

If your child cuts their labial frenulum, don't let the situation overwhelm you. We'll tell you how to help your little one.
What to Do if Your Child Cuts Their Labial Frenulum?
Vanesa Evangelina Buffa

Written and verified by the dentist Vanesa Evangelina Buffa.

Last update: 28 August, 2023

If your child has cut their labial frenulum, stay calm and don’t despair. Even if you see a lot of blood and your little one cries uncontrollably, it’s a situation that you’ll be able to face with our advice.

Cuts and injuries to the labial mucosa are frequent in children. Play, falls, and domestic accidents are the main causes. Most of the time, the consequences are minor and it’s possible to control the condition at home. However, there are situations that warrant a visit to the dentist.

Knowing what to do will allow you to act with peace of mind. Keep reading and find out how to help your child if they’ve injured their labial frenulum.

What is a labial frenulum?

A review published in the Basadrina Medical Journal defines labial frenula as “thin folds with muscle fibers that join the mucosa of the lips to the underlying alveolar periosteum.” Therefore, it’s a thin layer of tissue located in the midline of the mouth that connects the inner part of the lips with the gum and the maxillary bones.

We have two labial frenulae: The upper or maxillary and the lower or mandibular. The labial frenula provide stability to the lips during mouth movements and hold them in place as the facial bones grow.

A girl with hand on her mouth.

The causes and symptoms of labial frenulum injuries

Cuts to the labial frenulum usually occur as a result of a blow to the mouth. Falls during play and some sports predispose children to this type of injury.

According to a published article on sports dentistry from the Journal of Pharmaceutical Negative Results, the practice of sports during childhood and adolescence increases the likelihood of trauma to the hard and soft tissues of the mouth, including lip lacerations.

Falls and blows to the mouth are enough to cut the thin mucosa that connects the lip to the gum. Many times, it’s the antagonistic teeth that lacerate the tissue. In addition, child abuse and maltreatment also have a close association with lip frenulum tears.

If your child has cut their lip frenulum, you’ll see a lot of bleeding in their mouth. It’s the heavy irrigation of the mucosa that generates this exuberant bleeding. But in general, after a few minutes, the bleeding stops spontaneously. Pain and discomfort in the area complete the symptomatology of this condition.

What to do if your child has cut his labial frenulum?

The first thing you should do to take care of your child’s labial frenulum wound is to remain calm. Acting calmly will help your little one feel better and calm down after the accident.

Most of the time, these injuries don’t require medical treatment or stitches, as they’ll heal on their own. However, you should follow the steps below to properly address the situation.

1. Stop the bleeding and inspect the mouth

Cleaning the wound and stopping the bleeding are the first steps in treating your child’s cut labial frenulum. You can do this by washing the wound with saline or asking your child to rinse with clean water. This will remove any dust or dirt particles from the area.

At this point, it’s important to inspect the rest of the mouth for injuries elsewhere. You’ll want to look for any broken, loose, out-of-place, or teeth. You should also look for bleeding or pain in the gums, tongue, or cheeks.

You might be interested in: Bumps to Baby Teeth: What to Do

If you see any of these signs, you should see a pediatric dentist urgently. In fact, immediate management of dental trauma plays a key role in the treatment and prognosis of the condition.

You should then apply pressure to the frenulum area to stop the bleeding. You can do this with a clean gauze pad or by holding the lip against the teeth for several minutes. It’s important not to reverse the lip to observe the injury, as this movement will restart the bleeding.

2. Soothe the pain

Once you’ve made sure that the injury is only to the frenulum and that you’ve stopped the bleeding, you’ll need to address your child’s pain. For this, it’s convenient to apply cold to the area intermittently.

The professionals at Standford Hospital in California, recommend giving the little ones an ice cream or an ice cube to suck on. This way, you decrease inflammation and bleeding.

3. See a dentist

Although injuries to the frenulum usually heal on their own, it’s best that your child receive a professional evaluation after a blow. The dentist will be able to assess whether there are injuries to other structures or whether foreign bodies have been left in the area.

For this, in addition to a clinical examination, it’s common for X-rays of the mouth or face to be taken. In fact, a review article published by the Journal of Pediatric Dentistry urges dentists to take X-rays before making a suture in the mouth.

After assessing the severity of the condition and the particular needs of your child, the professional will perform the appropriate treatments. Sometimes stitches are necessary and sometimes all they need to do is monitor the healing. In addition, the dentist will give you the appropriate recommendations for your child’s tissues to recover better.

4. Apply aftercare to promote healing

If your child has cut the frenulum of the lip, in the following days, you should take some special care to help the tissue repair. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Don’t touch the area: Most cuts in the labial frenulum repair themselves after 3 or 4 days. Avoid touching and handling the injured area. Note that the healing of the oral mucosa is observed to be whitish in color. Therefore, don’t be alarmed if you see that your little one’s lip is covered with a clear membrane for a few days; this means that it’s healing.
  • Offer a soft, cool diet: Cold, soft foods, such as yogurts, ice cream, and smoothies, help reduce swelling and avoid trauma to the injured area.
  • Avoid acidic, salty, and hard foods: Citrus fruits and salt irritate the wound and cause discomfort. At the same time, hard textures, such as crackers and toast, can re-traumatize the area.
  • Maintain proper oral hygiene: It’s essential to keep your child’s mouth clean to prevent infections. Brushing should be done carefully so as not to traumatize the injured lip.
  • Use the medication prescribed by the dentist: The professional may indicate the use of an oral anti-inflammatory to soothe the discomfort. In addition, a local antiseptic may be recommended to promote tissue repair and prevent infection.
A little black girl giving her dentist a high five.

When to consult a doctor if your child has cut their labial frenulum?

In general, cuts of the labial frenulum recover on their own without generating more inconveniences than some discomfort for 3 or 4 days. However, some cases may become infected or present complications that require prompt medical attention.

Here are some situations where you should seek immediate professional help if your child has cut their labial frenulum:

  • The bleeding doesn’t stop.
  • There are signs of infection: Warmth, swelling, or oozing.
  • The tear is very deep.
  • The cut starts on the inside of the mouth and extends outward.
  • The injury was caused by a sharp, dirty, or rusty object.
  • The pain is very intense and persistent.
  • There’s difficulty in swallowing.
  • The child can’t open or close their mouth.
  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child doesn’t have their tetanus shot up to date.

If after the blow to the mouth, your child loses consciousness, has difficulty breathing, or you believe that their life is in danger, call the emergency services immediately.

Accompany your child

If your child has cut their lip frenulum, the wound will most likely heal on its own. Acting calmly and with knowledge will allow you to accompany and care for your child as they need.

Keep in mind that if the wound is very deep or the blow may have affected other structures in the mouth, it’s best to have your child evaluated by a health professional.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.