In general, bone spicules are bony spurs or ledges that occur along the edges or on top of bones.

Bone spurs may grow following bone damage, or after bone loss like that caused by osteoarthritis. Bone spurs commonly grow where bones meet, such as in the knees, spine, hips, and feet.

In the mouth, bone spicules may occur following tooth extraction or other kinds of oral surgery. Some dentists may refer to these as bone sequestra. This is your body’s way of removing extra bone from the tooth extraction site.

While uncomfortable, dental bone spicules usually aren’t a cause for concern.

While bone spurs that occur in other parts of the body may cause no noticeable symptoms, bone spicules that occur in the mouth can be quite noticeable.

Symptoms of an oral bone spicule include:

  • roughness on your gums
  • white bone-looking fragment stuck in your gums
  • pain in your mouth
  • discomfort (may feel like there are tiny, sharp flakes stuck in one area of your gums)
  • signs of infection, including
    • headache
    • fever
    • pus
    • redness
    • inflammation

There are several possible oral procedures that may cause dental bone spicules to form in your mouth. These procedures can cause trauma to the bone that lies under a tooth or teeth.

Immediately after an oral procedure, the surrounding bone naturally begins to heal itself. But in some cases, there are fragments of bone left at the surgery site. The body sends these bone fragments away from the healing bone and out of your body through your gums.

Procedures capable of causing bone spicules include:

Tooth extraction

Tooth extraction is the removal of a tooth or teeth from your jawbones. Common reasons for tooth extraction, including wisdom tooth extraction, include:

Dental implants

Dental implant surgery is the replacement of a tooth’s roots with a metal post shaped like a screw, and placement of artificial teeth on these posts. The metal posts are implanted into your jawbone.

Oral bone biopsy

If you’re being tested or treated for cancer of the oral bones or gums, your doctor may need to perform a biopsy.

A biopsy is the removal of bone or tissue from the body with a small needle or knife. A biopsy can detect if abnormal cells, like those that cause cancer, are present.

Many dental specialists recommend that bone spicules be removed from the gums to prevent or treat infection, and to promote quicker healing. The surgery for removal of bone spicules in the mouth is usually brief and minimally invasive.

If you’re having tooth extractions done, your dental surgeon may choose to do an alveoplasty at the same time, where extra instruments are used to smooth your jawbone.

The device will grind off any pieces of jawbone that stick out following oral surgery and could possibly form into a spicule. Alveoloplasty isn’t a sure way to stop bone spicules from forming, but it’s commonly used as a preventative measure.

Most oral bone spicules will work their way out of your gums as your mouth continues to heal in the weeks following an oral procedure. In these cases, you can look after bone spicules at home.

Tooth extraction and other oral surgeries can cause pain during the healing process. Bone spicules are no exception. If you’re experiencing pain as the result of bone spicules, the following at-home treatments may bring relief:

Good aftercare following oral surgery and during the healing process can prevent any possible complications from your surgery, such as dry socket and additional pain.

If you’re concerned you might have oral bone spicules, let your dentist know. They may recommend you come in for a visit to evaluate whether you might benefit from surgical removal.

Call a doctor right away if you’re showing signs of infection, such as facial swelling, fever and headache. Also, call your dentist if the spicule doesn’t heal in 1 to 2 months, or doesn’t seem to be improving.

Like bone spurs on other parts of the body, oral bone spicules are the body’s reaction to bone disease or damage. Oral bone spicules may form following an oral surgery procedure.

Usually, oral bone spicules heal on their own in weeks, and pose no long-term risk. Although they can cause soreness and pain, there are some simple ways to ease any discomfort caused by oral bone spicules at home.

But in some cases, like when an infection is present, it may be necessary for a dentist to remove your oral bone spicules. Call a doctor right away if you’re experiencing a fever or other signs of infection.