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Injuring your tongue isn’t an entirely uncommon event. While it’s easy to bite your tongue while chewing gum or eating, there are other instances in which your tongue can suffer some severe damage.

In the event that you injure your tongue to the point that it’s bleeding so badly you can’t stop it, or you can clearly see you’ve bitten through your tongue completely, you need to visit an ER as soon as possible.

On the way there, or if your tongue injury is less severe, you can use the following tips from Dr. Benjamin Johnson to perform first aid for any tongue injuries you may sustain.

The first step is to rinse your mouth gently with lukewarm saltwater. This will help wash away any blood or debris in your mouth and give you a better look at the situation. The salt water can also help soothe injured tissues.

Wrapping your tongue in a few layers of sterile gauze and applying light pressure can help you control the bleeding. If you can’t easily hold the gauze with your fingers, you can try pressing your tongue to the roof of your mouth. Try not to swallow too much blood because this can lead to an upset stomach.

Remember that if you can’t stop the bleeding or have bitten all the way through your tongue, that constitutes a legitimate medical emergency and you need immediate attention.