Thursday, October 19, 2006

Don't Bite Your Numb Lip!

When we do a large filling, remove a tooth, or some other fairly invasive procedure, we "numb" up the area with "novocaine". Well, really more specifically Lidocaine or Mepivicaine . Anyways, the obvious advantage of numbing is there is no pain or discomfort related to the procedure. However, the lip, tooth, gums, and sometimes part of the tongue will be numb for a few hours. Some kids don't quite know how to deal with this numb lip. Unfortunately, some will bite their lip causing it to swell dramatically. They can't feel that they are doing damage.

Biting a numb lip thankfully does not occur that often. However, I can often spot the kid that is at risk. He is the one fiddling with his lip, sucking it between his teeth, scratching his chin and is otherwise preoccupied with the numb feeling. I always, I mean always, warn the child (and the parent) to not bite on the lip, not to pinch or scratch it either. If they do, it can take a few days for the swelling to go down. You can try an ice pack to limit the swelling in the first few hours. There is sometimes a white/yellow scab inside the lip or cheek. Thankfully, it almost always heals up within a few days. It's best to let your dentist know if you are concerned. Those are the kids to really watch the next time and to avoid numbing unless it's really necessary the next time. If we have a calm child and there is a really small cavity to be filled, there is often no need to numb up the tooth; the kids do quite well.

57 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. I never thought this could be a problem. My son did this yesterday and before I knew it, a chunk of his inner lip was gone (no kidding). I have been freaking out. The nurse I spoke with on the phone said it should heal fine, but the white/yellow area had me rfeally concerned. I thought it was muscle. I will continue to pay attention to it and call the doctor again tomorrow if there are any signs of infection.

Dr. Dean Brandon said...

Hope things go well. I sometimes wonder if all this stuff I post does anyone any good. I am pleased you found some value in my comments. I see this kind of thing several times a year. Again, good luck!

Anonymous said...

My 3 year old son went to the dentist 2 days ago for a filling. He was frozen and had the gas. On the drive home he must have bit his lip and skin inside his mouth. The dentist told me he may do this but told me not to really mention anything about the freezing. I totally disagree with the method. If I would have told him he would have known what to expect and what not to do. His face immediately started to swell. It was very swollen almost to his eye. His upper lip almost covered the bottom. I started to really worry and called the dentist, they said it was just from biting. I was very concerned the next morning when it was even worse. He looked like he was in a boxing match. He could barely talk and eat. So I called the doctor and they took me right away. They were very upset and concerned that it was infected. However, they sent me to the dentist since they were not sure where the dentist froze, etc. Anyways, the dentist prescribed meds. to get rid of the infection or to at least stop it if it was starting. This morning he woke up (2 days after) and the swelling was down about 1/2 the size. Just thought I would write about this to help other parents deal with such a problem. It was a very tramatic 2 days for my son, husband and I, but we are finally seeing progress with the situation.

Nova Scotia Dental said...

Good article on an often overlooked subject. Good post!

corinne said...

Thank you all for these postings. My seven year old had his first filling and promptly started chewing on his lip. It is so swollen that I was shocked at the size! I was also concerned that it was infected or an allergic reaction. But now reading some other postings I realize that this does happen and we will have to be mindful of it next time. Thanks for putting us at ease. We will wait for the swelling to go down.

Anonymous said...

So grateful for everyone's comments; my four year old had a dentist appt yesterday and bit his numb lip as well. Husband wanted to take him to the emergency room (imagine it on New Year's Eve!) and I said no. BUT feel better today hearing your comments! Will watch him better next time!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much same story here. The swelling is huge and looks horrible. Will look for infection. How long should we havae before the swelling goes down? At what point to you go get antibiotics?

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Hi,

Thanks for this forum, I eased my concern after seeing my son's lip swollen after novacaine. The nurse just mentioned stop him from biting. But she did not say what would happen if the kid does not listen. Because if she did, I'd have a serious conversation with him right away. Well, I drove for 20 minutes and could not monitor him. By the time we got home, his lip is swollen. It took him one day to look normal again.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post! My 4-year old daughter has the same thing (huge swollen lip and inside of the lip looking yellow/white where she was biting it). I'm trying to be the voice of reason since the dentist said to give it a day, but my husband and mother-in-law are freaked out. Of course, I don't want it to be an infection either so I've been looking online for help. The dentist said to watch for biting, but it wasn't noticeable. It could be helpful to add some scare factor about what the lip will look like in case the child bites on the lip.

Anonymous said...

I took my son 3 years old for the filling and he bit his bottom lips and they are swollen very bad. I was really concerned so i started browsing the web and iam very glad i have answers to all my questions.This is very helpful information .Thank you all .

Dr. Dean Brandon said...

Very good. Of course, I still recommend letting your dentist know what happened.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this information. My 4 year old have a filling yesterday and bit her lip. It looked okay yesterday, but this morning it looked bad and I got worried! I did call the dentists office and they said I can keep icing it and that it will likely look worse before it looks better. She seems okay as far as discomfort, but I can't wait for the swelling to go down. If you have any tips on how to prevent this in the future they would be much appreciated. I couldn't even tell she was biting, because she only bit the inside!

Dr. Dean Brandon said...

Sometimes "next time" we try and do the work without numbing (which often is ok if the procedure is small), (or the patient is well sedated). Also, due caution is warranted as well. A reversal agent is available, but if the procedure is invasive you don't want the area to wake up too soon. In addition, the reversal agent (Oraverse) takes some time to "unwork" the numb feeling. It takes just seconds for a child to bite or chew enough to get that fat lip.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tips. My sister had a good idea which was to buy her a rubber sports mouthguard like her sister wears for lacrosse and see if she will wear it for the afternoon until the numbing agent wears off. Am hoping this will help keep her teeth off her lip. The swelling is much improved today. I will also ask our dentist about the Oraverse reversal agant.

Dr. Dean Brandon said...

Btw I do not use oraverse at this time.

Anonymous said...

My son had 2 fillings on Tuesday morning. The dentist is 5 min from our home. By the time we got home his lip was VERY swollen and he had crusty stuff on his chin. He admitted be had bit his lip because it felt funny. The area on his chin had grown by the next morning and lip was still very puffy. Sent him to school as he said there was no pain. When I picked him up from school, the lip was even more swollen and white/yellow. Took him directly to the dentist where they determined that he had cellulitis and prescribed penicillin. It is amazing to me how fast it became infected. Less than 24 hours! I would not wait to take your child in if this happens to you. I wish I would have taken him in the morning after the procedure instead of waiting for the afternoon.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. My 10 yr old has some ADHD and other problems. She went to the dentist and was numbed for the first time yesterday. She had a baby tooth removed because her adult tooth was coming in on top of it. I noticed she was biting it on the way home,told her to stop it would get sore, but then thought nothing of it, until we got home and her upper lip was completely swollen. She had little white looking blisters on the underside. Today it is still very swollen and has the white/yellow scab under it. I am keeping an eye out for infection, but was getting very worried until I read your post.

Dr. Dean Brandon said...

Thank You. It's always a good idea to let the dentist know what happened if you are really concerned.

Anonymous said...

My 3yr.old son just went to the dentist last week and they gave him some anesthesia for a filling and he was also sucking and biting his lip and it became very swollen and the next morning it was yellow and i was so freaked out because the dentist didn't mention anything to me about the side effects so i was really concerned so i took him back the next day and they told me there was nothing they could do about it and just to give him tylenol...but im so happy to have found this site because he has an appt.next week and now ill be more aware...thanks so much!!

Anonymous said...

This was helpful, my son had a tooth removed 2 1/2 days ago and his lip is still swollen and has that white scab looking area inside. I figured he must have been biting his lip, but now I know for sure that he did.

Anonymous said...

My 6 year old went to the dentist; unable to fill it w/ out the novacaine. Said no biting; and he constantly was playing with it; and now it has swelled. I'll keep my eye on it; but I am not thrilled. This is the second time for this "filling" the first time they did the cavity without any issues-- and so now he will have a fat lip. I'll watch for infection. Thanks for posting.

Jenn said...

My daughter is 9 yrs old. She went in yesterday to have 3 cavities filled. The dentist called me back and told me that while she was under the gas and was numb- that they try to watch them as best they can, she had chewed her cheek... I must say it looks like hamburger meat to a sense. Its isnt at all white and yellowish. Hers looks like red blood blister with bluish marks around them, and some more spots closer to the lips that are a little white looking. The entire inside of the cheek is this way. Everytime she chews, or trys to talk- with it swollen this way, she is rebitting it.Her dentist knows, she did this under her care. Her suggestions were rinsing with warm salt water and childrens motrin. Any more suggestions, for the rebiting of the swollen cheek?

Dr. Dean Brandon said...

I have seen that kind of thing before. -chewing of the cheek. It usually heals quite well but I know it can be kind of frustrating the first several days. Sounds like you are doing reasonable things. Warm salt water rinses keeping sites clean helps healing. Sometimes I will prescribe an antibiotic in more severe cases or maybe some pain meds if Tylenol isn't doing the trick. Antibiotics are Mainly to keep it from getting infected and speed healing. Although I have never seen a bit lip or cheek get infected. Young kids heal quickly. Soft foods help. There is no real easy cure other than time to heal. Good luck.

Dr. Dean Brandon said...

Oh Most kids, even though they kind of accidentally bitecthe cheek again, -Since it's now awake, they are much more careful with it.

europa5 said...

Thank you all for posting! My son, too, bit his lip intentionally after the novocaine. He said he did it because his lip, "wouldn't go down." Ugh. It swelled up, looked like elephantitus of the lip. Now there is a huge yellow blob inside. I guess it's the mouth's version of a scab. I wish my dentist had given proper warning! It never occurred to me that a child might do this!

Anonymous said...

My 11 year old daughter's lip is numb following jaw surgery on Thursday - a complication that we were warned of. We are bummed by it, but not worried. However, she has been biting her lip accidentally and through "playing" with the numbness. She goes back to her surgeon tomorrow, but anything I can do tonight to bring the swelling down and avoid infection? It has gotten worse since yesterday - no fever (can't tell if it hurts as she is numb)

Dr. Dean Brandon said...

Of course contact your dentist if there is a concern. I usually suggest an cold ice pack off and on the first day to reduce how bad the swelling might get. Again consult your doctor. Good luck.

Eve said...

Thank you so much! I left my 5 yo daughter alone for abt 30 min after she got her first tooth filled and when I went back into her room to check on her her lip was huge. The next day it was still huge. I called the dentist and they said to give it time. When I saw it had a huge yellow spot on it, I started to panic. Luckily I found your post. I guess we need to wait it out a little more.

Anonymous said...

How do you know if it is infected

Dr. Dean Brandon said...

If it gets worse after a few days, it may be infected. I actually have never see a bitten lip get that bad. They have always healed. If you are not sure, I'd check with the dentist.

Anonymous said...

My 6 year old daughter had a small cavity filled this morning. she chewed and bit off parts of her cheek on that side, also bit her tongue and seems to have put a hole in it! It did not bleed very bad and the bleeding has completely stopped. I know the Novocaine has not worn off yet and when it does I will be ready with children's Tylenol and the like. What does infection in the mouth look like? Should I be more concerned than I am and take her to the emergency room or her doctor?

Dr. Dean Brandon said...

I've been at our office seeing patients all day, so I suspect by the time you read this, you will have a good answer. I'd call your dentist if there is need for followup. Infection develops over several days. Good Luck! I'd be interested how it all turns out. As you can read here, it's unfortunate, but kids heal well. Good Luck.

Anonymous said...

Question: Will applying lip moisturizer impede the healing process? In addition to having a white/yellow area, a scab is forming on his dry lips.

Dr. Dean Brandon said...

Of course, areas heal better when gently kept clean, but I cannot see any problem with vasaline or moisturizer for dry areas. I'd probably do the same thing.

Anonymous said...

My 4 year old daughter had a tooth filling yesterday and was numbed for the first time. The doctor warned about the swelling of the lip if she bites it but i guess she might have done it unconsciously, though. Her lip was so swollen within 2 hours with a white/yellow area in the inside of the lip. I took her back to the dentist today and they said there is nothing they can do. It will go away on its own. I was so worried until i found this postings. I want to watch for an infection but i do not know what to watch for. Can somebody help me out

Dr. Dean Brandon said...

As I mentioned, things usually get better in about three or four days or so. If it gets worse or you are not sure have your dentist check again. I have actually never seen one get "infected". It's just good protocol to make sure things are getting better not worse.

Christian said...

Jesus! That was helpful! I left work early just after my girlfiend sent me the pic of his lip. That was scary beyond anything. Researching about this swollen lip deal...i can go to sleep now and just wait it out. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Any suggestions on what to put on the lip as it heals? My 7 yr. daughter bit her lip so bad that now after the swelling is down, her lip is one big scab. Yuck!

Dr. Dean Brandon said...

Sorry, I've been out of town--usually Neosporin is what I recommend if needed.

Teresa said...

Whew. I Know this is an older post but it sure has eased my worries. My daughter had a cap put on one of her teeth the other day and before I knew it she has completely bit a small hole on the outside of her bottom lip. It is swollen and the next day a thick whitish yellow patch appeared. I have taken her to the doctor they gave her an antibiotic but the patch on the inside of her lip was scaring me so thought I would google and see what I could find. This just eased my mind. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

i had my two baby eye teeth taken put beacause they were grwoing on the pallete of my mouth i was wake during d op but had some local aneastisiea my lip was so werid after it feel big hahah but it was normal afterwards i got a plate to cover up were they did the op but one mornin i woke up i swolled some crazy aha now i have braces haah im a 16 so soon mky braces will be off and i will have nice teeth this website helped me learn about my teeth so thanksssss!! :)

Anonymous said...

This happened to me and I have had this awfully painful yellow scab on my lip now for 6 days and it doesn't seem to be getting rapidly better. Is there anything I could put on it to make it heal faster or to get rid of the pain. Also why is it taking so long for it to "heal." ???

Dr. Dean Brandon said...

Most things heal in a few days. I don't think you will go wrong by Getting the dentist to take a look.

Anonymous said...

my 8 yr old saw the dentist today, had some lidocaine applied. My wife was taking him home and he bit off a 1/8" chunk of his bottom lip, right at the edge of the inside of his mouth. Dentist said he will be ok though I'm not sure I trust him. My concern is whether this will heal, specifically will he be left with a piece of his lip missing, will it fill it and heal, or does he need surgery?

Dr. Dean Brandon said...

I've seen something like that before about 15 years ago but likely more severe. Although stitches were attempted, the kid busted them open, at the time a plastic surgeon basically said there was not much to be done but to wait for growth. That is pretty rare. The one thing that is usually good about growing children is that things like that, well, they tend to grow and signs of trauma are masked or gone altogether. I cannot say in your case. I bet the lip is pretty swollen as you read this. You may be better able to judge once more healing takes place. Let your doctor follow up as needed.

TJ said...

I will be again one of the many for thanking you for posting this as well as everyone else for their comments, as my 6 year old got 2 fillings on Friday and bit inside of her lip as well - in 3 spots. I had no idea that it would result in what appeared to be a fat lip. I almost took her to emergency as well, as the dentist was closed by this point. The next day the swelling was down and she just has a large white "scab" I guess inside of her mouth, but she said it doesn't really hurt. She has an appointment for 1 other on the other side, and i will be watching her like a hawk for those first 45 minutes!

Thanks again for the post!!

Anonymous said...

I needed this because I was getting very concerned about my son. Now I know I can rest until I reach his dentist tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

My son just had a filling on Monday. His lip and cheek started swelling about 20 min after he left the office. They did not give him any gauze or cotton afterwards to keep him from biting down because the work was done on the top (not sure I agree with not using cotton regardless if it was top or bottom). It looked worse as the day went on. I called the dentist and took him back. They checked him and said he must have bitten his lip/jaw and it would go away in a day. It didn't, it just got worse. I took him to the pediatrician who gave him a script for an antibiotic, said to use ice and heat and said find a new dentist. His lip outside and inside was white and scabbly. Now it's red on the outside, but the swelling went down. He should be back to normal soon. I didn't realize how common this was unti I read the other posts. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

My 8 year old son has many of the same symptoms listed in the other posts. He also has a huge bruise on his cheek. He has the cavities filled yesterday and he looks more swollen to me today. I brought him back to the dentist this morning but he looks puffier to me tonight. She said he chewed the inside of his cheek. I'm hoping he is fine-I feel better reading all the other posts. I'm just concerned about the bruise-have you seen this in other cases?

Anonymous said...

This happened to my son who had tooth work. He was 6 years old at the time.. and he bit on his lip while it was numb and he didn't know he did it.. about 2 hours after the visit he was swelling up.. I called the dentist and he said he may have bit his lip.. he did. The infection was very bad but thankfully with antibiotics he got well pretty fast. Now, I tell him not to bit down on any part of his mouth.. I don't want to go through that again!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad to read these posts! This afternoon my four yr old had a cavity filled, and was told by the dentist 'make sure she doesnt bite it...' but didnt tell me what would happen if she did.
Later on when I saw her lip, I almost had a heart attack! I didnt know if she was having a reaction to the shot, or filling, or ??
I went straight to the doc with out even calling first (I did think about taking her to the ER). The doc barely even looked at it and said she'll be fine, it happens all the time......

Anonymous said...

Thank you thank you for this post. Seems like a common thing. My 4 year old got a cavity filled this morning. The dentist mentioned keeping him from biting his lip so I thought I could stay on top of things. It looked terrible by the time I got home 10 minutes later and the damage had been done. Looks aweful now but we will give it a few days to heal up and not panic thanks to the comments I read here.

Anonymous said...

My daughter is 6 years old. She had to get two fillings for the first time. When she came out of the dentist office she seemed fine , about a half hour later her lip started to swell. I thought it was pretty normal and that the swelling should eventually go down but it got worse. It started to look lumpy and sag . My daughter had a second appointment the next day to fill two more cavaties so I decided to wait the next day for her appointment but whe she woke up that morning it look worse than ever, it started to look more lumpy and swollen. Their was a lot of crust under her top lip. We went to the dentist and when he checked her he said that she had bit her lip. He just told us continue putting ice on it , it could take a week or more to heal.

Anonymous said...

hi my son has one and half years old. i'm stop feeding on one year,but there is no problem was created. one day my sister-in-law took him and told i'm feeding you with action on that day onwards he bite his lower lip , how can i control him please help me

Dr. Dean Brandon said...

Sounds more like a habit of nibbling or biting the lip, much like a habit of biting fingernails. These habits can be difficult to stop.

At one and a half years old, well the severity of the habit would be the concern. If a child just sucks or nibbles on a lip, that is a habit that will likely stop with age. If a habit is severe causing scaring, bleeding and swelling, in a young child I would consult a pediatrician for syndromes or other associated factors there.

leza said...

hi guys yesterday my 5 year old daughter went to the dentist and they told me to keep an eye on her but she keeped sucking on her lip because she said it was itchy this morning it is all white and huge and a little sore, so thank you for putting up this post it has helped ease my mind

Dr. Dean Brandon said...

I am happy everyone has gotten a lot of reassurance out of this post. It's still always best to ask your own dentist for any conditions you are not sure about. There are a lot of comments here on this post, so I am closing the comments section. Please read more here on the other posts on the blog. Thanks!