If you need to have a tooth extracted because of an injury or as a preparatory procedure before an implant/denture, you may be going over aftercare instructions—like how to prevent dry socket. One aftercare instruction you may need to go over is how to handle bone spicules. Bone spicules are small bony slivers that are left in the surgery site after an extraction.
How Are Bone Spicules Removed?
Once your tooth has been extracted, there will still be fragments from the surrounding alveolar bone (jawbone) that secured the tooth root. Your dentist will use an instrument called a root-tip pick to clean out any of these spicules from the tooth socket. They will also irrigate the socket to force out any pieces that cannot be easily removed with instruments. If you are getting fitted with dentures after the extraction, then your dentist will use an instrument called a rongeur to perform an alveoloplasty and smooth bony fragments even more. If there are any spicules left, your body will usually break them down during the healing process.
How Do You Manage Bone Spicule Soreness?
It's normal for some spicules to work their way out of the gum tissue, which may cause additional soreness as you heal. Your dentist may prescribe a pain-relieving gel for your gums if they are tender or swollen. They might also recommend warm salt water rinses or OTC medications to manage any pain. Again, bone spicules usually work their way out of the gums on their own, so these aftercare treatments are usually enough. The most important thing is that you shouldn't try to pull the bone spicules out on your own. If you do, you risk dislodging the blood clot and causing dry socket in the process. If there are sharp edges that are irritating your cheeks or gums, your dentist can pull these out for you.
How Can a Dentist Treat Bone Spicules?
In rare cases, bone spicules can hinder healing at the site. If you have a fever or an infection at the site, you should see a dentist right away. If your dentist believes the bone fragment will not resolve itself, then they may make a small incision near the extraction site to pull the spicule out. Stitches may be required afterward. Some stitches dissolve on their own while others may require that you visit the dentist again to have them removed. If the site was infected by the spicule, then your dentist will debride and irrigate any diseased tissue. They may also prescribe some antibiotics or another round of microbial mouth rinse.
Contact a dentist in your area for more information on dental extractions and aftercare instructions.