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Merck Manual

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Tongue Injury


Bernard J. Hennessy

, DDS, Texas A&M University, College of Dentistry

Last full review/revision May 2020| Content last modified May 2020
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Tongue injury is the most common cause of tongue discomfort. The tongue has many nerve endings for pain and touch and is more sensitive than other parts of the body. The tongue is frequently bitten accidentally but heals quickly. A sharp, broken filling or tooth can do considerable damage to this delicate tissue. Penetrating injuries (such as gunshots and stab wounds) and blunt force injuries damage the face as well as the tongue (see Facial Injuries). Shallow injuries heal fairly quickly, and deeper injuries usually do not persist more than 3 weeks.

When treating a tongue laceration, doctors must decide whether stitches are truly needed, because many injuries heal quickly without a repair and many people cannot keep their mouth open and their tongue still during suturing, thus requiring sedation or anesthesia.

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