What Are Bone Spicules and Why Do They Happen After Dental Procedures?

Bone spicules are one of the most common side effects of dental procedures. But are also among the easiest to deal with.

When most people think of bone spicules, they imagine sharp, little pieces of bone stabbing them from the inside out. This can cause intense pain whenever they move their jaw or bite down on something hard like a crunchy apple.

This experience can be alarming and even painful. So, it’s important to know what these spicules are and why they happen after dental procedures.

What Is a Dental Bone Spicule

A dentist may refer to a bone spicule as a bone-within-bone structure. This description refers to how bone beneath your jaw, called alveolar bone, grows around dental implants in your mouth. This growth resembles a tooth’s form; it’s also visible on X-rays and dental CT scans.

A bone spicule isn’t cancerous or harmful; it’s part of an appropriate healing process following dental implant surgery. Bone spicules are also referred to as pseudotumors, which means they may look similar to tumors but aren’t cancerous.

The most popular causes of dental bone spicules are due to tooth extraction. The causes include but are not limited to:

  • Improper tooth growth
  • A broken or damaged tooth
  • Gum disease (and the procedures that deal wit it)
  • Tooth decay
  • Crowding or misalignment of teeth

Other causes are dental implants or having an oral bone biopsy (in cases of cancer of the oral bones or gums).

Symptoms Of a Dental Bone Spicule

The most common symptom is extreme pain following a dental procedure, which eventually resolves as spicule formation occurs.

Often, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly where a patient is experiencing discomfort. This is because bone spicules can occur anywhere there is a bone in the body. If you believe you have experienced symptoms of an oral bone spicule, schedule an appointment with your dentist.

In some cases, patients don’t realize they have oral bone spicules until they experience symptoms of unrelated conditions like arthritis or lupus erythematosus (lupus).

Some popular symptoms of dental bone spicules include:

  • Rough gums
  • White-ish bone fragments sticking through the gums
  • Oral pain
  • Discomfort in gums

How Are Dental Bone Spicules Treated?

Oral bone spicules are generally not treated because they do not pose a health threat to patients. If you experience discomfort, your dentist may prescribe an anti-inflammatory drug or rest for your jaw. To ensure your oral health, addressing any discomfort promptly is crucial. Don’t hesitate to contact a dentist to arrange an appointment for a thorough evaluation.

It’s also recommended that you continue to see your dentist regularly so that they can monitor any changes in bone spicule formation. The bone will eventually reabsorb into your jawbone naturally over time, but it can take up to several months for them to disappear completely.

A dental procedure may increase your risk of developing oral bone spicules in the future, so it’s important to discuss all risks and benefits with your dentist before undergoing any oral surgery procedures. Treatment is not always necessary for this issue but can help limit complications.

As always, it is imperative that the risks of having bone spicules are weighed against the benefits of the procedure, and that is a conversation you should be having with your dentist. While it may seem unpleasant, the consequences of foregoing treatment may end up being significantly worse.