Is it possible to have bone spurs in your mouth? A hard, bony lump on gum tissues—sometimes called a “gum bone spur” or "bone spicule" can come from a few different sources. Some are hard, fixed bony growths in your mouth like a “tori,” “torus,” or “exostosis.” Others are a loose bone chip that is wedged in your gum tissues until it is either removed or works itself out on its own.
In general, bone spurs happen when your body undergoes too much stress in a specific area of your mouth. This can happen naturally or as a result of a disease or traumatic injury. Certain dental procedures can also contribute to bone spurs in mouth structures.
Bone spurs (bone spicules) may occur on any bone in your body. But if they’re in your mouth, they are most likely to occur on your palate (roof of the mouth,) outside of the jaw, or around extraction sites. They may be round and bulbous—such as “tori” or “exostosis” or a sharp bone if it’s a bone chip.
The most common examples of bone spurs on gum tissue are related to dental extractions . It has to do with the way the bone immediately surrounding your tooth root reacts when the tooth is removed. Sometimes the bone stays completely intact. Other times, small chips of bone come out with the tooth, either because of the shape of the root or the number of roots involved. Depending on the tooth, your dentist may have to slightly move the tooth side to side before it’s extracted. This motion could potentially dislodge small, tiny flakes of bone around the tooth socket.
If the bone doesn’t come out with the tooth at the time of the extraction, it stays inside of the socket as the gums heal over it. Sometimes, bone fragments can develop without warning following a dental procedure, and as the body naturally eliminates them, they can push through the nearby soft tissues and become visible. This creates a loose bone spur that eventually tries to work itself out on its own.
Having a bone spur on gums after a tooth extraction can range from minor irritation to a painful experience. Luckily, it’s temporary. If the bone fragment doesn’t work itself out on its own, your dentist may recommend a bone spur extraction.
Bone spurs may form in your mouth after any oral surgery or basic dental extraction. They are essentially small pieces of bone that have broken off whenever a tooth is removed. This is extremely common if you have a surgical extraction, as in the instance of an impacted wisdom tooth removal.
Bone spurs may also form on any bone in the body. These spurs are also called osteophytes. They are formed when the body attempts to heal a damaged area of your bone. They are most common in the hip, shoulder, neck, low back, and heels. Most people associate bone spurs with plantar fasciitis and osteoarthritis. But that isn’t always the case when we’re talking about your mouth.
Hard bony lumps on the gums like “tori” or “exostosis” don’t come from bone fragments during surgery. But some specialists link them to traumatic injuries, past endodontic therapy, or even stress. They tend to be bilateral (occurring on both sides of your mouth) or directly in the middle of your mouth and can grow larger over time.
Depending on the type of dental bone spur you have, it may be nothing to worry about. For instance, thousands of people in this country have mandibular tori or exostosis—which are bulbous bony growths—that never need to do anything about them. They’re just there. The only time they tend to be a problem is if you hit them with your toothbrush, bite straight into a hard tortilla chip, or need to get fitted for a denture.
The “loose” bone chips that we see after some dental extractions are not harmful unless they become infected or painful. Since they may not be evident until a week or two after your extraction, it’s best to see your dentist to discuss exactly what’s going on. Hypothetically, a bone chip could be partially lodged in the gums with part of it exposed, which could then get infected or poke into other tissues in your mouth. Pain and minor inflammation could prevent you from being able to eat comfortably, and it could lead to a more serious oral infection.
If your bony growth or bone spur is interfering with eating, always causing discomfort, or prevents you from wearing a denture, your dentist may recommend one of two treatment options: a “watch and wait” approach or surgical removal of hard bony lumps on gums.
Bone chips after an extraction usually work their way out on their own. In some cases, your dentist may want to numb the area and use a small set of tweezer-like tools to remove the bone chip (and make sure no leftover pieces remain hidden behind.)
In the case of fixed, bulbous growths, your dentist may recommend leaving them alone unless they’re interfering with normal daily activities. If you can’t eat or swallow, for instance, surgical removal is usually recommended. This may also be the case if your bone spurs are interfering with wearing a removable denture, as the bony lumps won’t allow the “plate” to rest snuggly against your gums.
Having a bone spur in your mouth can cause serious discomfort until it comes out on its own or you have it removed. It can also cause you to develop a dental infection if it isn’t addressed quickly.
Do not attempt dental bone spur removal on your own. Instead, see your dentist as soon as possible. Your dentist can diagnose a bone spur and prescribe the best treatment. Such as physically removing it or allowing it to work itself out on its own.
In the meantime, keep your gums clean and use an alcohol-free, antiseptic mouthwash. This will help to fight any bacteria that might aggravate the inflammation around your bone spur. An over-the-counter pain reliever and warm saltwater rinse can also help alleviate temporary discomfort.
Try not to irritate the bone spur when you’re brushing your teeth. If you brush too hard, it can irritate the sensitive gum tissues and make them sore for days after.
On the other hand, hard bony lumps on gums—like tori or exostosis—can interfere with wearing removable prosthetics like dentures or partial dentures. Even if your dentist or an oral surgeon removes them, tori and exostosis tend to “grow back” and can prevent your denture from fitting properly.
A bump on your gums could be caused by several conditions such as dental cysts, mandibular tori, oral cancer, periodontal abscess, fibroma, or even a canker sore.
A dental cyst is a fluid-filled sac that can form in the mouth or jawbone, usually as a result of a tooth or gum infection.
Mandibular tori are bony protrusions that can develop on the lower jawbone and are usually harmless.
A periodontal abscess is a painful infection that can cause a swollen, pus-filled lump on the gums.
Fibroma is a non-cancerous growth of connective tissue that can occur in the mouth.
It is important to consult a dentist or oral health provider to properly diagnose and treat any lumps or abnormalities in the mouth, on the upper or lower jaw. Your dentist will provide the best course of action and dental treatment plan.
When someone talks about a gum bone spur, they’re usually referring to one of two things: a bone chip after a dental extraction or a bony growth like a “tori” or “exostosis.” Both can be uncomfortable at times. While bone chips may work their way out on their own, bony growths that interfere with your dentures may need to be surgically removed by a specialist. If you ever have a hard bony lump on your gums that wasn’t there before, make sure you speak to your dentist to rule out any potentially dangerous diagnoses.
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