Wisdom teeth usually come in between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five. As your child heads into his or her late teen years, you may wonder if he or she needs to have their wisdom teeth extracted.
Not everyone needs to have their wisdom teeth removed, but they are unpredictable teeth. Your dentist may recommend removal for your child if the teeth are impacted or causing pain. If your child has a small mouth, then he or she may need an extraction since the teeth may not have enough room to erupt.
While a wisdom tooth extraction is a common, low-risk procedure in oral surgery, one possible side effect that you should be aware of is the development of bone spicules.
What Are Bone Spicules?
When the dentist extracts a tooth, he or she will use instruments called a curette or root tip pick to clean out any remaining bone fragments in the socket. The dentist and dental assistant will also irrigate the socket to remove any debris. While these practices can clear away most bone fragments, occasionally tiny pieces are left behind. These tiny, sliver-like fragments are called bone spicules.
Some spicules are loose while others may still be attached to the jawbone. Not everyone develops bone spicules after an extraction, but if your child does, he or she may notice swelling around the gum tissue. He or she may also feel the sharp edges of spicules with his or her tongue if they're sticking out of the gum tissue. You may be able to see spicules with a mirror, but some are very tiny and not easily seen.
Will They Go Away on Their Own?
Bone spicules are completely normal, and your child shouldn't be alarmed if he or she notices them. In many cases, they will work out of the gum tissue on their own, or the body will break them down. This natural process may a couple weeks or about a month for the spicules to resolve.
Sometimes the spicules don't work out on their own, so your child may have to go back to the dentist to have them removed if they're bothersome.
What Can You Do to Ease Your Child's Discomfort?
To ease your child's discomfort, make sure they take any prescribed painkillers at the scheduled intervals. Also, ask your dentist when your child can rinse and gargle with saltwater. Saltwater can reduce inflammation and can help speed up the process of spicule exfoliation.
You may be tempted to remove the spicules yourself if you can see them in your child's mouth, but this is a bad idea. For one, at-home tweezers aren't sterilized to the extent like they are in dental offices.
Secondly, if you or your child tries to remove the spicules, you could dislodge the site's blood clot. The blood clot is important because it protects the socket as the gum tissue fully heals. If the clot is dislodged, then your child could develop dry socket. A dry socket is a painful condition that leaves the nerves and jawbone exposed to infection.
If the bone spicules don’t go away on their own and still cause pain, make an appointment with the dentist. He or she can safely extract the spicules without putting your child at risk for infection. Plus, to avoid any pain from any larger bone spicule, the dentist can use a form of anesthetic for your child.
If you child is nearing the age when their wisdom teeth will come in, you should take them to a dentist to see if they’ll need them extracted. Contact us at Youth Dental & Vision for more information about wisdom tooth extractions.