Maybe it was that high-back chair that threw you off--or maybe the tuna casserole. More likely, it was just a momentary lapse in your chewing coordination that caused the inside of your cheek to meet the ravaging power of your choppers.
Yow! Cheek bite! That blasted curse of dysfunctional diners!
But here's how to soothe the pain and get your inner cheek in shape for chowing down again.
Wash out your mouth. Gargle with 2 percent hydrogen peroxide, a popular over-the-counter antiseptic. "It helps keep your mouth sterile to prevent infection," says Las Vegas orthopedic surgeon Michael Rask, M.D., chairman of the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopedic Surgeons and the American Board of Ringside Medicine and Surgery. He suggests that you dilute the peroxide first by mixing it with an equal amount of water and "gargle no more than once a day for no more than one week." If you gargle more frequently with peroxide, you can irritate gums and harm tissues within the mouth.
Put ice on the bite. "There's not a lot you can do for a cheek bite, other than relieve some of the pain with ice," says D'Anne Kleinsmith, M.D., a cosmetic dermatologist at William Beaumont Hospital near Detroit. "I suggest holding a piece of ice against the bite with your tongue."
Apply gentle pressure. "If the bite is bleeding slightly, hold a piece of gauze or even your finger against it to stop the bleeding," says Robert Duresa, D.D.S., a Chicago dentist and team dentist for the Chicago Blackhawks professional hockey team. But Dr. Duresa warns that you may need stitches if the bleeding is severe or continuous.
Take a tab of acidophilus. Acidophilus is a type of "helpful" bacteria that can fight harmful bacteria and help prevent infection, says Dr. Rask. He recommends taking it in the form of chewable lozenges or capsules. Two capsules twice a day should help lesions clear up.
Brush your tongue, too. "Brushing thoroughly-- including your tongue--is another good way to keep your mouth sterile and help prevent infection," adds Dr. Rask.