Popcorn Kernal Feels Like a Splinter Under My Gum

This question was submitted by by Pam Holloway from Bellingham, Wa.   She feels something stuck under her gum that 5 different dentists have not been able to find.  


Pam's question:

My tooth number 6 feels like there is a pocket and food gets caught under it.

There has been bone loss and no matter what I do, I can not get what ever is under the tooth out. 

I have had two deep cleanings under the gum in that area and two or more regular cleanings since this happened about two years ago. 

popcorn stuck under gums

I have seen about 5 different dentists and have an appointment with a periodontist.

I almost feel like pulling out the tooth, I just don't know what to do, or what is the answer. 

It feels like a sliver is under gum or whatever it is, is so far in gum that it is imbedded like a sliver would be. 

How should I deal with it and when I go to the periodontist, what should I tell him. all the dentist I go to, seem to think I am hypochondriac and they say, the tooth looks fine,they will admit there is bone loss, but just say get more cleanings. 

I have had many x rays also of this tooth, and not sure why no one can figure out the problem Pam Holloway

My Reply:

Hi Pam, I'm sorry that spot is driving you crazy.

I'm not sure what to tell you without knowing the condition of the tooth but if that many dentists have assured you that it is fine, it seems it would be best to keep the tooth and try to figure out how to make it feel better.

When you are describing the problem to the periodontist give as many details as possible.

When reading your post I wondered about a few things..

What makes it feel like a splinter?
Does it hurt? 
If yes, what makes it hurt?
Does it bleed? 
If so, what makes it bleed?

If the gum doesn't bleed or the tooth doesn't hurt you may just be feeing something unfamiliar with your tongue. 

I have thought I had popcorn stuck before when it was really the edge of a crown that I had never noticed before. 

If your gum is receded you may be feeling the line where your enamel ends and the cementum on your root surface begins. This line is called the CEJ or cementoenamel junction. This line is normal tooth anatomy but is usually under the gum so you don't feel it with your tongue. 

Your tongue is super sensitive and can make something really small feel big.

Give your periodontist as much detail as you can and show them exactly where you feel the popcorn or sliver so he or she can help you figure it out. 

Thanks for writing and good luck,


There is a spot that is sore, I know exactly where the sore spot is, it feels like your finger that might get a splinter that did not come out yet.

I understand the ridge you are talking about and had a dentist smooth it out.

It bleeds when I start to use a tooth pick or anything to try and dig it out, one dentist said to not use toothpicks as I was irritating it, so I did stop for a while and it still was sore.

Like I said I have had it cleaned many times, even with numbing the area, and whatever is there still has not been removed.

I hope the periodontist can find out what it is, but I think that he will just say, since I have bone loss I have to live with ( I think there is a reason for the bone loss, like a foreign object under the gum, that no one can locate.

How do dentists locate it? Will it show up in X Ray, if there is something under the gum?


My Reply:

Hi Pam,  I'm sure the tooth has been X-Rayed a few times already.  Popcorn won't show on an X-ray.

Calculus (tarter) build up that is under the gums will sometimes show on an Xray depending on the angle and amount of build up that is there. But after 2 deep cleanings and 2 or 3 regular cleanings there should not be any. 

If the area is too sensitive for a toothpick, try using a WaterPik Flosser with a capful of Listerine added to the water reservoir.  A WaterPik irrigator is ideal for some situations.  Read more about WaterPik here.

There are some antibiotic medications that can be placed under the gum and may be helpful for you.  Arestin is one that is commonly used.

Good luck,

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