There Is No "One Key" To Great Dental Health

What To Expect If You Have A Popcorn Kernel Stuck Under Your Gumline

If you've recently eaten popcorn and one of the kernels has slid under your gum line, you should see a dentist right away. While it may seem like a mildly irritating problem, this simple food item can potentially put your oral health at risk. Read on to learn why your oral health is in danger and what you can expect when you visit the dentist to have it fixed. 

The Danger of Popcorn Kernels

There are few foods that can pose the threat to your gums and tooth root like popcorn kernels can. They're thin, stiff, and in addition to getting stuck between your teeth, they can slide between the tooth and the gum. If you're lucky, you can use floss or a dental tool to pull it back out, but once the kernel completely disappears under your gum line, you'll need medical attention.

Popcorn kernels don't break down when exposed to saliva like other foods do, so if it gets under your gum, it's not going to go away on its own. In the meantime, it'll cause extreme irritation for your gums, and can harbor harmful bacteria that will start to erode the vulnerable root of your teeth.

Dental Procedure

Your dentist has several ways of removing popcorn kernels from your gumline, depending on how far under they've gone. If the popcorn kernel is still partially exposed, your dentist may be able to use a pick to gingerly pull it back out. They'll then clean the pocket that it created under your gum to remove any bacteria, and you'll be ready to go.

If the kernel has gone completely under the gumline, the procedure may be a bit more intensive. Your dentist may be able to get the kernel out by using an ultrasonic scaler; this is the same tool that's used to loosen plaque from your teeth. The gentle ultrasonic pulse may be able to force the kernel back out.  

If this method fails, your dentist may need to make a small incision in the gumline to remove the kernel. This is an outpatient procedure that can be done quickly under local anesthesia. Once the kernel is accessible, your dentist will thoroughly clean the area and suture the incision back together.

Preventing it From Happening Again

If this has happened to you, chances are you have the early stages of gum disease. Healthy gums typically have a snug seal around your teeth which should prevent objects like popcorn kernels from getting in. However, with gum disease, the gums become puffy and loosen their seal, increasing the risk of bacteria and food debris getting under them.

Your dentist will let you know if you appear to have the signs of gum disease. If so, work with your dentist to treat the existing gum disease and make sure to regularly floss, brush, and use mouthwash at home to prevent the gum disease from developing again.

Getting a popcorn kernel stuck under your gum is an unpleasant thing to have happen, but it's preventable with proper dental care. If this has happened to you, don't hesitate to see your dentist, even if you need to make an emergency appointment (with a professional such as Dr. Daniel Bade DDS).