Can I leave Fractured Tooth Root In?

After a tooth is extracted, it is possible for the dentist to leave a portion of the root behind. The failure to properly remove the entire tooth can result in infection or other problems. In the event a portion of the root is accidentally left behind, it fortunately can be removed. Once the remaining portion of the root can is removed, pain and infection can also be relieved.

Following the removal of a tooth, one of the possible complications is that a portion of the tooth’s roots can be missed and remain in the mouth. In most cases, this occurs when the dentist performing the extraction is new or has limited experience. It is especially problematic when the tooth’s crown breaks off during the removal. If a tooth has a filling from a large cavity, it is at a higher risk for crumbling or breaking down. When this occurs, the tooth’s roots remain in place under the gums. For the dentist to completely remove the tooth, they must be highly skilled. Remaining roots in the mouth can result in oral health issues such as a dental infection.

When the root is in close proximity to a nerve, fractured tooth fragments can be more common. The teeth can be associated with nerves running throughout the jawbone. When the dentist works to retrieve these leftover fragments, it can cause serious nerve damage. The dentist must be extremely careful to avoid damaging the nerves. The dentist may decide the risk of removing a small fragment of the tooth or root outweighs the benefits and intentionally leave it in the mouth.

One of the most common side effects of a tooth fragment in the mouth is a dental infection. The bacteria can also cause swelling or an abscess. This can eventually lead to systemic issues like Ludwig’s angina. While the condition is quite rare, fragments of wisdom teeth have been associated with the condition. In severe cases, the patient may require hospitalization.

Bone Spicule

It is possible for patients to confuse tooth fragments for bone tissue. After a tooth is extracted, a bone begins to form in the area. This extra formation of bone may even stick out of the gums. The term bone spicule is used to describe this formation. The spicule typically heals and dissolves on its own over time. In some cases, however, it must be removed.

The cost for removing leftover tooth fragments ranges based on specifics of the case such as the location and size of the fragment. On average, the procedure is about $200. Prior to the removal, dentists order x-rays and perform a thorough examination. In most cases, dental insurance does not cover the cost of the procedure.

Below is a summary of the procedure used to remove a tooth fragment:

  1. Application of local anesthetic
  2. Reflection of the gum tissue in the area
  3. Potential need to remove bone surrounding the tooth fragment
  4. Removal of the bone fragment using dental instruments
  5. Irrigation and the placement of a suture

If a patient thinks they have a fractured root following the removal of a tooth, they should contact their dentist immediately. Prompt removal of the root is needed to prevent complications such as infection and discomfort. In many cases, the patient will need to work with a specialist such as an oral surgeon for the procedure. The dentist can help refer patients to the necessary dental professional.

Fractured Root Symptoms and Treatments