A Bone to Pick: How to Remove a Fish Bone from Your Gums

Getting a small, but sharp, fish bone stuck in your gum is painful. Removing such a small foreign body can also be quite tricky. However, because of the risk of infection, it is important that you try to extract the fish bone as soon as possible.

Do Not Use Force to Remove the Bone

Fish bones are quite brittle. Therefore, using force to remove them is not the answer. With that in mind, refrain from attempting to remove a fish bone with a toothbrush, a length of floss or an object such as a toothpick. Using any of these items could cause the bone to break, leaving part of it lodged in the gum tissue.

Lodged Foreign Bodies Cause Infections

Although at first, a lodged fish bone may cause minor irritation, swelling and bleeding, if it becomes deeply embedded within the gum tissue, an abscess could form. A periodontal abscess, also known as a gum boil, is a sac filled with bacteria and white blood cells. Because this pus has nowhere to go, it soon causes toothache-like pain and swelling.

If left unchecked, this infection could lead to gum disease and cause the periodontal ligaments and bone around the affected area to disintegrate. This is why it is important that you are gentle when attempting to remove a fish bone from your gum.

Use Warm Saltwater

Saltwater reduces inflammation. This is important because swollen gum tissue may make it hard to remove a trapped fish bone. Mix a teaspoon of salt with a glass of warm water and gently swish it around the area where the fish bone is trapped. This will reduce the swelling, helping you to better locate, and hopefully remove, the fish bone.

Use an Oral Syringe

Once the swelling has gone down, use an oral syringe filled with warm water to dislodge the trapped fish bone. Direct the spray at the area where the fish bone is trapped and attempt to gently nudge the bone out of the gum tissue with each jet of water. Since your saliva will also help to soften the fish bone, you may be able to successfully remove it.

Book a Dental Appointment

If you are unable to dislodge the fish bone yourself, book an appointment with a dentist as soon as you can. The sooner a dentist locates the bone with a dental x-ray and removes it, the sooner your gum tissue can heal. An abscess can form within hours, so it is important that a dentist remove the bone before this happens.

Although it may be painful and somewhat irritating, be gentle with a trapped fish bone. Lastly, don't leave it and hope the situation improves. An abscess, followed by gum disease, could be the result of doing nothing.