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Foreign Body Injuries

A common example of a foreign body injury is a wood splinter in the finger, which causes a localized inflammatory response—swelling, pain, redness, and (although it may be imperceptible), a local increase in the temperature of the tissue. The same can happen in the mouth, and a common culprit is the husk of a popcorn kernel, which may embed itself beneath the gums in an area where it cannot easily be removed. Another fairly common occurrence is trauma to the face, which may result in sand, gravel, tooth fragments, or other foreign debris becoming embedded in the lips or other soft tissue.

When foreign body injuries occur, the site becomes inflamed and tender. If the foreign object remains in the tissue, bacterial infection may result. Inflammation is a mechanism by which the body protects itself from foreign objects. A complex system of signaling molecules causes blood flow to the affected area to increase, so that immune cells can be delivered to fight infection. Frequently the foreign object(s) will require mechanical removal by a health professional.

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Author: Thomas J. Greany, D.D.S. / Editor: Ken Lambrecht

This page was last updated on March 2, 2018.

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