When you experience a surgical tooth extraction, you may be expecting only one surgical procedure. Sometimes, however, things don’t turn out exactly as planned, necessitating a root tip extraction. Here’s what you need to know about this procedure.

When is a root tip extraction necessary?

Your teeth have two main exterior parts: the area above the gumline (the crown) and the area below it (the root). The roots themselves can extend deeply below the gumline, ending in what is known as a root tip.

During a regular tooth extraction, the tooth’s crown and the root are both removed at the same time. In some cases, the root’s tip breaks off and may need to be removed separately. Not all dentists agree on how to approach this procedure, however.

The first approach is that, if you are not planning to get an implant, a separate root tip extraction is an unnecessary surgery. This may be especially true if your tooth extraction is already healed. This approach assumes that there is no infection or decay in the root tip itself.

The other approach is that root tip extraction is absolutely required, even if there is no planned implant. The theory behind this is that there is no way to know for sure if the root tip is clear of decay. It could be a source of residual infection. Another reason for root tip extraction is because it is hard to predict the future. You may feel like an implant is not necessary today but realize in a couple years that implants work better for you.

By working closely with your dentist, you can find the best approach to your root tip extraction.

What can I expect during a root tip extraction procedure?

Your root tip extraction procedure will differ depending on where the root tip is located and how much there is to extract. In general, your dentist will follow these four steps.

#1: Confirm the location of the root tip

Using an X-ray, your dentist will confirm where the root tip is located and how much of it is left.

This is important because if it has been awhile since your tooth extraction and the extraction site has healed, the root tip may have moved in the gum.

#2: Prepare the root tip extraction site

Your dentist will use a local anesthetic such as Novocain to numb the surgical area.

If you are at all anxious about the procedure, they can also prescribe a mild sedative to help calm you. They may also use nitrous oxide during the procedure.

#3: Extract the root tip

There are two ways to remove a root tip. If the root tip is not in contact with the bone and has migrated towards the surface of the gum, your dentist may be able to make a small incision to locate and remove the root tip.

If your root tip is still connected to the jawbone, the procedure may be more invasive. Your dentist will open a flap of gum tissue in the side of the gum (as opposed to straight from the top). This gives them better access to the jawbone.

Using an X-ray to guide them, the dentist will then remove a bit of bone surrounding the root tip to help loosen it from the jawbone. They may use a drill to remove the bone surrounding the root tip before extracting the root tip. Even if you undergo this treatment, your dentist will monitor you closely to manage any pain during the procedure.

#4: Close the wound

Your dentist will carefully clean the surgical site and stitch up the wound.

Is a root tip extraction painful?

Generally, you should not feel root tip extraction pain during the procedure. Because your dentist is performing a surgery to the gum and bone removal, they will make sure that the area is completely numb before you begin.

If your dentist uses a drill to remove bone material, you may feel pressure in the area and vibrations from the drill. However, there should be no pain during the root tip extraction itself.

What are the basics of root tip extraction aftercare?

The speed of your root tip extraction recovery depends upon the quality of your root tip extraction aftercare. This qualifies as a surgical tooth extraction and should be treated as such.

Here are some aftercare tips for a speedy and comfortable recovery from a root tip