I've got a tooth sticking out the top of my gum.
June 3, 2011 6:33 AM   Subscribe

I've got a tooth sticking out the top of my gum.

Anonymous because I feel silly freaking out about this.

I am a female and in my early 20s I got braces to correct an overbite. I tend to be a worrywart and I remember at the time thinking that my upper canine teeth seemed to end up in a strange position, because they appear to be at a funny angle, and they are more sensitive to cold foods than they used to be. That whole incident is one of my big regrets because it was expensive and didn't correct the overbite as much as I was expecting.

Flash forward 8 years. Sometime within the past 2 or 3 weeks I developed what I thought was a canker sore on one of my upper gums. I didn't think much of it, until I was brushing my teeth last night and noticed, "Boy, that canker sore has been there for a long time." I put my finger on it, and to my shock, it felt solid/hard underneath. That's when it dawned on me that this was not a canker sore, that this may be a piece of the upper part of my canine tooth (the root?) poking through the top of my gum. The gum on the other side of my mouth does have a rather large bulge right above the canine tooth, which lets me think that their strange positioning is causing them to pop out of the gum.

My husband was skeptical when I mentioned it to him, but when I had him feel the spot with his finger, he had to admit that it seemed possible.

I have not Googled for any information about this, because I am one of those patients for whom a little information is a dangerous thing - I think I would just freak out more. I know I should see my dentist, but their office is not open on Fridays. They do have an emergency number I can call (which I believe is just the dentist's cell phone) but I don't know if this qualifies as an actual emergency.

As I said, I am completely freaked out about this, and I don't want to wait until Monday (I'm going to be obsessing all weekend). On the other hand, if I've had this for 2-3 weeks and been okay, 3 more days shouldn't hurt. (But what if it gets infected?)

I need a voice of reason from the hive mind. I know YANMD, but could this actually be a tooth coming through the gum? Should I call the dentist and say it's an emergency? What can even be done about this? I'm envisioning needing some kind of oral surgery, or needing braces again, or something else that I can't afford.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Words of comfort?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It could be a tooth coming through the gum but I don't know that it's an emergency that can't wait until Monday.

Get some mouthwash and use it consistently between now and Monday if you're concerned about infections. Or get some gauze and antiseptic and soak the gauze in the antiseptic and wedge it between the tooth and your cheek.

And then call the dentist's office on Monday.
posted by dfriedman at 6:41 AM on June 3, 2011

I was born with two sets of canines. The two rear canines in each set were slowly pushing the front canines out from their position in the gumline, causing my gums to recede. It wasn't until I found a new dentist at age 28 that they actually decided to do something about it. Upon X-raying, he also found another (!) tooth lodged deep in my gums which had never emerged - which was complete news to me, as no dentist had mentioned it before. Has your dentist looked thoroughly at your X-rays?

(The extraction, incidentally, was totally fine. They knocked me out, I woke up like nothing had happened, and I got to enjoy a Percocet fog for a few days. And although IANAD, I think you'll be totally fine over a mere weekend... but don't stall on this any longer.)
posted by mykescipark at 6:50 AM on June 3, 2011

Call the dentist. There's no reason to spend the weekend freaked out if you don't have to.
posted by something something at 6:52 AM on June 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

I had a freak sliver of wisdom (? no one was really sure) tooth growing laterally out of my gum, right above another tooth. It is possible that what you're feeling is part of a similar freak tooth, rather than your canine.
posted by coppermoss at 7:13 AM on June 3, 2011

I wish I could give you an answer but I don't have one. I just wanted to chime in and say that I also have a tooth where it looks like the top has almost pushed through my gums. It hasn't yet but it looks/feels like it might eventually. So you aren't the only one and are def not crazy. :) Please update with what you find out.
posted by halseyaa at 7:28 AM on June 3, 2011

Did your orthodontist or your dentist ever say that there was anything odd about your x-rays? Do you happen to particularly *remember* your canines falling out when you were losing your baby teeth? It could even be your first adult set, but having extras is also not impossible. Almost certainly not an emergency, but a canker sore is pretty much exactly how they feel when they start to come in, properly or not, from personal experience.
posted by gracedissolved at 7:35 AM on June 3, 2011

Call the dentist, let the office decide how urgent it is (or reassure you that's its not as bad as you fear), and deal with it on their recommended timeline. Personally, I wouldn't put getting it checked out much longer, but as long as you're not in pain, (and maybe use some mouthwash if you're worried about infection) my guess is another few days or even weeks aren't going to be a big deal. Teeth move slowly :)
posted by cgg at 7:55 AM on June 3, 2011

If it makes you feel better, I have the same problem, canine as well. I asked the dentist about it once and he said it wasn't a problem unless it became painfu. I never had any problems, and I've probably had it for 3 years now (25 year old female).
posted by piper4 at 8:10 AM on June 3, 2011

I am also a shark with benign hyperdontia. It is sometimes hard to see on standard bitewing x-rays, though, usually, better series have been taken if you have appliances. If it is extra dentation or some other lesion or gum problem what matters is pain, sensitivity, fever, redness, swelling, and exudate (drainage). If those warning signs are absent, make a regular DDS appointment. If they are present, call the emergency number and they will likely triage you by asking follow-up questions to see if you need to come in.

I'm in healthcare, but not a dentist. In pediatrics we're taught to screen for signs and symptoms of infection or to refer for lesions when we look in a kid's mouth and that's the beginning and end of what I can do. I also have the experience of extra teeth getting discovered in my head due to an experience similar to yours, which is why I'm responding. In any event, if you are unwell or in pain, seek care immediately. If there is something non-progressive that is unusual for you, seek care according to the office's timeline. And the emergency line will talk you through your questions for both possibilities. Take care!
posted by rumposinc at 8:11 AM on June 3, 2011

It's a really good idea to go to the dentist asap
posted by KokuRyu at 8:12 AM on June 3, 2011

If infection is a real worry, the dentist might want to start you on prophylactic antibiotics until the appropriate procedures can be scheduled. Give them a call.
posted by endless_forms at 8:16 AM on June 3, 2011

Like piper4, I have the same thing and was instructed not to worry by my otherwise quick-to-prescribe-root-canals dentist. Not saying it would need a root canal; it wouldn't, but my dentist seems to love messing about in my mouth and didn't take this opportunity to do so. I'm 28 and have had this for a few years.

If it doesn't hurt, wait it out. If the anxiety is making you tongue the darn thing every 3 seconds, it will probably be irritated, so try not to poke at it too much. That'll only make you more worried.

Good luck. Tooth stuff is scary and terrible and I understand why you're anxious. I really think it is ok, but you can always call your dentist if you need to. That's what the after hours number is for.
posted by k8lin at 9:03 AM on June 3, 2011

Where on your upper gums is it? Is it in the back? Have you had your wisdom teeth out?

If not, it could be one of those pushing through - that was my first sign of them, shortly before I had all four removed.
posted by bookdragoness at 10:02 AM on June 3, 2011

Sorry, reread where it specified above the canines, where it's unlikely your wisdom teeth would be.
posted by bookdragoness at 10:03 AM on June 3, 2011

I have bumps on the inside of my upper gums which are abnormal bone growth. It's apparently fairly common, and they don't do - or need to do - anything about it. I'm not a dentist, and I understand why you're freaked out, but I suspect that the issue won't turn out to be a huge big deal (whether it is what piper4 mentioned or something else) as there are all kinds of lumps and bumps of tooth and bone you can get in your mouth which are benign. A lot of us have them.

If you are really worried then by all means go to the dentist as soon as you can, but it will certainly keep until Monday.

It sounds dumb to say, "Try not to panic", but do try.
posted by rubbish bin night at 10:15 AM on June 3, 2011

When I was 21, a random shard of a long-ago-lost baby tooth (well, that's what my dentist said it was) decided to poke its way out of my gums. It was right next to my top left incisor. Dentist looked at it for a couple of seconds and then told me to wiggle it around until it popped out. With consistent poking and prodding over a few days, I was able to yank it out. I make this sound like I was really calm, but I was freaked out until I saw my dentist.

If you're worried about infection but planning to wait a couple days, rinse your mouth with water or a saline solution after eating anything. Don't touch your mouth if you haven't washed your hands first. Leave the affected area alone. That's the standard aftercare for mouth piercings.
posted by giraffe at 12:38 PM on June 3, 2011

I still have a baby tooth and can feel the permanent tooth in my gum above it (although it hasn't erupted like yours). It's quite common to have extra teeth hanging out in your gums.

Certainly see the dentist but if you have no pain then there is no need to freak out or rush to an emergency dentist.
posted by dave99 at 5:50 PM on June 3, 2011

Would be nice to have three sets of teeth instead of two, I think.

I read a page recently that said an adult shark keeps a tooth an average of seven days. That must be why they only have cartilage instead of bones-- they need all the calcium for their teeth.

Anonymous, I'm afraid I think your canines were injured by your orthodontia.

I'd say pushing them back has caused a sharp bend in each root, and that the bumps you feel under your gums are knees of those bends.

That "they appear to be at a funny angle, and they are more sensitive to cold foods than they used to be" makes me think the sharp bends have partially compromised the continuity of the roots.

That you have developed what you "thought was a canker sore on one of my upper gums" makes me think that root, at least, could have suffered a 'green stick' break, where part of the root bends and part of it breaks, and that the upper end of the break is pushing through your gum.

It's not too surprising the canines might be hard to move around intact, the roots of mine go all the way up to my eyesockets (hence the alternate name 'eyeteeth', possibly).

Do go to a dentist, but not the one who did your orthodontic work, or one of his associates.
posted by jamjam at 7:43 PM on June 4, 2011

i'm a little late to the party. but this happened to me. my baby canine teeth never fell out, and the adult ones started erupting on the gums in my mid-20's. it took about 4 years total to sort it all out, with extractions, braces, little chains, brackets. it sucked, but it's now over. if you want all the sordid deets, mefi-mail me.
posted by apostrophe at 7:51 AM on June 6, 2011

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