So, you’ve had one or more teeth extracted, and now there is a hard lump on the gum.
While this is not a typical post-tooth extraction occurrence, it is not a “run to the emergency” type of situation.
Sometimes, whenever a tooth is pulled there are small complications associated with tiny hard fragments. These usually are limited to spurs, chips, splinters, and shards of the tooth, bone or root that have made their way up to the surface.
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Three Possible Scenarios for a Hard Lump on Your Gum
In any case, you should visit your dental office and have the bump inspected. You should do this regardless of the tooth extraction procedure (wisdom teeth or primary teeth). Better safe than sorry!
Bony prominence is the most common of the three possibilities and it represents a prominent edge of bone that is left at the rim of the socket after tooth extraction. It is important to note that even though, over time the gum will eventually heal and cover the edge, the gum tissue can still be injured. Since gum tissue is very delicate, a simple pinch or external pressure can cause some pain and discomfort.
You should not wait and see if the problem persists for weeks. It is recommended that you seek your dentist as soon as possible. If the bony lumps do not begin to round off and heal by themselves, you might need a formal alveolectomy procedure.
Bony sequestrum refers to a piece of dead bone tissue. Whenever a small piece of bone manages to detach itself from its moorings, it becomes what is known as devitalized.
Let’s not forget that any bone is a living tissue. During the tooth extraction phase, the bone can suffer trauma and die. Resulting in small fragments called sequestrum or sequestra (plural).
Tiny pieces of tooth or bone often do come out of extraction sites, this is not considered a dental irregularity. Quite the opposite, in most teeth removal procedures this process needs to occur.
- Your body does not recognize any dead tissue, so it needs to get rid of it as a healing process.
- Pieces of tooth and lumps of dead bone cannot be assimilated into the healing process. In fact, they might delay it since they have absolutely no beneficial value to your body.
In any case, your dentist might need to remove the piece of tooth or dead bone particle.
Root fragment is the third possible option that may have caused a hard lump on the gum in a post-tooth extraction scenario. Also known as root tips, these are fractures that remain in the extraction site. In a matter of fact, root fracture is by far the most widespread intraoperative complication. Research shows that it occurs in 10 to 21% of cases.
In some cases, root tips do not surface for months. Interestingly enough, there are some cases in which leaving the shards in place poses less risk to the patient.
- If the fragment is not totally infected, leaving it behind will have no consequences.
Whenever the root tip migrates to the surface of the bone, it can usually be removed with ease. In either way, x-ray monitoring is a must.
What Should You Do
Your first step should be to remove the guessing out of the equation. In other words, visit your dentist and get an X-ray. This will determine the cause of the hard bump and you can begin discussing healing options with your orthodontist.
Author: Peter Mayhew
Peter is a dental hygienist in the city of Chicago, IL. In his free time he likes to write blogs and product reviews on anything dental health related.