Help! Must I get to the dentist NOW?
June 29, 2007 2:37 PM   Subscribe

I have an inflammation in my gum plus what looks like popcorn sort of stuck inside...

I had some pain in my gum the last few days and when I went to look, it looks like there is some popcorn wedged in there with the gums inflamed all around it. is this possible? I am going to try to get to the dentist asap, considering I don't have one (i have insurance) and it's friday night. Can/Should I try to get the popcorn out and will this help? how can this have happened? my teeth are usually ok. no major work done besides a few cavities.
posted by sweetkid to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Yeah little bits of the kernel can get stuck in your gums. Usually brushing my teeth gets it out. That would definitely inflame your gums if its been stuck there for a few days. See if you can get it out and no more gum problems. Not something I would pay a dentist to do personally. Use a flashlight and your fingernail or something if the toothbrush doesn't get it.
posted by dino terror at 2:44 PM on June 29, 2007

Yeah, brush your teeth and floss gently. Chances are it'll pop out, and once it's out it should heal up quickly. If you can't get it out by brushing/flossing/poking the gum, then it's time to see the dentist.
posted by vorfeed at 2:49 PM on June 29, 2007

This happens to me occasionally. I think I must have had a cavity drilled a while back and not filled properly. If toothbrushing doesn't get it out, I'd try flossing. My gum swelling usually goes away shortly after removing the offending bit of stuck food.
posted by scottreynen at 2:50 PM on June 29, 2007

Response by poster: Oh, phew. This is good news.
posted by sweetkid at 2:51 PM on June 29, 2007

I'm not a dentist, but I've had crap get stuck between my teeth & gums and get very irritated, and have had no qualms about flossing the crap out of it to dislodge the foreign matter. Again, take my advice with a grain of salt, but I say give it your best, but rinse with Listerine after you pick at it, and have some Orajel on hand. I figure if you were going to go to the dentist anyway to get it checked out, it can't hurt to see if you can't do some at-home troubleshooting.

(I have a very loose policy with regards to trying to solve my own medical mysteries though, so seriously take what I say with a grain of salt.)
posted by tastybrains at 3:01 PM on June 29, 2007

Response by poster: Well, I wasn't sure how worried to be about the inflammation. If it might go down in a few days, I might not bother with the dentist.
posted by sweetkid at 3:02 PM on June 29, 2007

Best answer: I assume you did eat popcorn recently? Once you get it out (try a toothpick if the fingernail is to big, don't dig too deep) then do a saline rinse two or three times a day for a few days (a tsp or two of salt to a cup of water, gargle and spit) to keep out any new infection and help the old one heal up. It should heal in a matter of days, if not then that's the time to see the dentist.
posted by shelleycat at 3:07 PM on June 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you can get the bit of food out, the irritation should start to go down almost immediately. Every time this has happened to me, removing the food caused near-instant relief, and the spot was entirely better by the next day. So take heart, it should definitely be better in "a few days". If not, like shelleycat says, see the dentist.
posted by vorfeed at 3:10 PM on June 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

It sounds like popcorn. I had this happen. Once was enough, and I no longer eat popcorn. Once you get the popcorn out, it should feel a lot better, but contrary to vorfeed's experience, mine didn't feel entirely better for almost a week. In fact, I ended up going to the dentist, thinking there was still something lodged in there (it was in the back of my mouth, on the top), but they couldn't find anything and basically told me, "Yeah, it was probably popcorn, but we don't see anything except for some mild inflammation."
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:13 PM on June 29, 2007

Best answer: One thing I never knew until I asked my dentist is that you cannot floss too hard or deep. Feel free to get way down there and saw like your jaw is made of wood.
posted by rhizome at 3:39 PM on June 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

I have the same problem occasionally. If flossing doesn't get it, you can try purchasing a (for lack of a better term) dental pick at the drug store. It's a metal probe with a soft rubber pointed pick at the end. Good for getting in gaps between tooth and gum for removing foreign matter. I have one and use it often for situations like you describe. Good luck.
posted by capcuervo at 4:02 PM on June 29, 2007

Response by poster: I got home and flossed the heck out of the spot, which I had been avoiding doing since it was so tender. There's some bleeding, but it does feel a LOT better right away. Awesome! Somehow I had no idea something like this could happen. For a day or so I thought I had brushed too hard, and then realized something was stuck in there.
posted by sweetkid at 4:13 PM on June 29, 2007

One thing I never knew until I asked my dentist is that you cannot floss too hard or deep.

I don't want to say "you're wrong", but I sense this could be really bad advice if it's not true ;-) (you can brush too hard after all, who'da thunk it?) .. Googling for "floss too hard" gives plenty of warnings, but none from anyone convincing. Any good citations for this advice online (anyone)?
posted by wackybrit at 4:41 PM on June 29, 2007

If all previous advice fails, you may be in for a trip to the dentist. I once had a popcorn kernel get stuck so far up in my gums that they had to use novacaine to get it out.

But it's just a simple teeth-cleaning, and it doesn't hurt when they do it, if it makes you feel better.
posted by brina at 5:07 PM on June 29, 2007

(Did you actually see the popcorn kernel come out when you flossed? If so, you're good. If not, you'll start to feel like you have a cavity in about a day and a half.)
posted by brina at 5:09 PM on June 29, 2007

As all the previous posters said, try the flossing, the toothpicks, stimudents, etc. While it's inflamed, also get some Colgate Peroxyl though. I find that swishing with that really helps any gum irritation start healing same day.
posted by ick at 5:33 PM on June 29, 2007

Response by poster: I did see the popcorn kernel come out. Pretty gross. I didn't know gums sucked stuff up like that.
posted by sweetkid at 6:07 PM on June 29, 2007

I had the shell of a kernel stab the side of, and then proceed to get lodged, in my gums. Not good times. I ended up pulling it out with a pair of pointy tweezers and then using a diluted peroxide rinse.
posted by jerseygirl at 6:50 PM on June 29, 2007

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