A Bone to Pick: Why Your Gum Has a Shard of Bone Protruding From It

Posted on: 2 October 2017


When teeth are extracted from the front of the mouth, the process is usually a fairly simple one. This is because the roots of incisors, canines, and premolars are quite short in length and are relatively straight. However, when it comes to wisdom teeth, also referred to as third molars, the opposite is often true. Wisdom teeth often have longer roots than the rest of your teeth because they have been growing for much longer and erupt much later.

These roots can also be curved. This makes removing wisdom teeth extremely difficult in some cases. This is especially true if wisdom teeth are impacted, which means lodged in the bone or gum tissue. This means that dentists often have to break these teeth in order to remove them. During these particularly difficult surgeries, bone splinters and shards of tooth can dislodge and remain inside the surgical site.

Shards of Bone or Tooth Are Exfoliated

If a shard of tooth or bone remains inside your gums after your surgery is complete, it then becomes a foreign body. As your gums heal over the next few days or weeks, your gum tissue will slowly force any remaining pieces of bone or tooth to the surface and exfoliate (shed) them. Seeing bone or tooth poking through your gum in this manner may alarm you. However, do not panic. It is a perfectly natural occurrence.

In some cases, parts of a former tooth's filling or sealant may also be shed. Broken roots too are also pushed out by your gums if they were left behind during surgery. To a patient recovering from wisdom tooth surgery, these pieces of emerging debris will be painful as well as confusing. However, much like your body shedding a thorn in your thumb, for instance, the process is natural and necessary.

Some Pieces May Not Appear for Years

When a piece of a tooth or bone is large, such as in the case of a tooth root, it may not emerge for months, or sometimes even years. This can be somewhat disconcerting, but the result is the same. Ideally, when a piece of bone or tooth is large, you should have your dentist extract it to prevent further damage to your gum. You could pull the shard yourself, but doing so could leave a substantial wound that may become infected.

If you have spotted a shard of tooth or bone protruding from your gums days, weeks, or even months after a difficult wisdom tooth removal procedure, inform your dentist straight away. They'll be able to remove it and give you some antibiotics to prevent the wound from becoming infected.