After months of a toothache in my top left second molar, the pain got so bad that I had to see a dentist right away. I was between dentists because I decided not to return to the dental practice I used to visit. I was not fond of the large dental chain feel. Anyway, the dentist I saw had a same-day appointment available and said the tooth was so infected that he wanted to extract it right away. That was two days ago, but today when I was cleaning the surgical site, it looked like the dentist left two tooth roots behind. I am planning on getting an implant. Will the root be n the way? And what kind of problems might this cause later? Thank you. Alejandra from Arkansas
Thank you for contacting our office.
After tooth removal, it is challenging—if not impossible—to see into the socket far enough and tell whether a dentist left tooth roots behind. Are you sure that what you saw was not some debris stuck in the tooth socket?
Why Might a Dentist Leave Root Tips After an Extraction?
If a dentist leaves tooth root tips behind after an extraction, it is often because of the risks involved with removing them. What are the risks?
- High-risk position – When removing tooth roots close to the sinus or nerve, removing them might damage the tissue or nerve they are touching. So a dentist will remove the tooth and most of the root but leave the tips.
- Lack of skill or instruments – If a dentist is not skilled with—or lacks the skills for—retrieving tips that break during extraction, they may leave the root tips behind.
- Risk of prolonged attempts to remove root tips – The March 2015 British Dental Journal published an article on retained root fragments after dental extraction. The report notes that prolonged surgery to remove root tips can result in bone inflammation.
However, regardless of the reason for leaving root tips behind, your dentist should explain to you what happened and how it happened. Also, a dentist must ensure that the roots left behind are not infected. Otherwise, the infection can present issues later.
Will Leftover Root Tips Interfere with a Dental Implant?
A dentist or oral surgeon must remove leftover tooth root tips from an extraction before placing dental implants. If you get the roots removed soon, it will make the extraction easier. Also, it can help you avoid a second dental emergency.
Dr. David Finley, a Monroe, Louisiana dentist, sponsors this post. Dr. Finley is a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry.