When you break a tooth there is no guarantee of a clean break. In fact, more often than not you are going to find that the break is NOT clean and some assistance may be required. So, what do you do if you have a broken tooth with the root still in the gum? Today we will discuss why this happens, what can happen if you don’t visit the dentist, and what your dentist can do to remediate the issue. Without further ado, let’s discuss teeth that break but leave in their roots!
Why is the root of my tooth still stuck there?
Your adult teeth are quite durable and at the base they are connected by 4-prong roots. These can end up being retained in your jaw if a tooth is broken, or even stuck in your gums. Your dentist is extra careful when extracting teeth to be thorough and so this doesn’t occur in a clinic but outside of it… well, sometimes these accidents happen and in a case like this you will want to visit your dentist as soon as possible.
Will a tooth root come out on its own?
Unfortunately the answer is that it will most likely not come out on its own. Retaining a portion of a dead tooth is not a good idea, either. Bacteria from the dead tooth can spread and affect infect other teeth or worse, your gums or even the jaw itself. Due to this risk it is a good idea to contact your dentist if you believe that the tooth has broken off and left roots in place. This is something to deal with right away.
In most cases all that will be required is going to be general anesthesia and your dentist will be able to remove the retained root portions. In some cases it may be more complex, however, and could require removal of a small portion of gum or even the jawbone. Typically if sutures are required your dentist will use the dissolvable kind so that you won’t need to make another visit right away however, a follow-up visit after 2 weeks will be necessary in order for the dentist to see how you are healing and to take X-rays to see if the root portions of the tooth were indeed fully removed.
Are there any risks involved with the surgery?
As with any surgical procedure there are risks involved. Don’t panic, though, as these are fairly standard. Some risks and potential complications include the following:
- Minor bleeding. This is to be expected and should stop within a few hours following the procedure. If the bleeding does not stop then you should contact your dentist in order to determine why the wound is not properly clotting.
- Risk of the wound becoming infected following the procedure. This can be minimized by using a saltwater rinse 2 -3 times daily in conjunction with good oral hygiene.
- It is uncommon, but the blood clot can become dislodged and you end up with a condition known as ‘Dry Socket’. Your dentist can help to remediate this painful condition and it can generally be resolved within a few days.
What can I expect after the surgery?
Following your surgery you can expect soreness in the gums and there may be a little swelling. This is to be expected after a dental procedure of this sort and is no cause for alarm. Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics and medicine for the pain, but barring the latter, ibuprofen can help with the pain and the swelling. You
“You may also feel some stiffness and a little aching when eating”
could also use the old-fashioned classic remedy of an icepack to help bring down the swelling if you like. You may also feel some stiffness and a little aching when eating or talking but that should pass within a few days. The swelling and bruising may last up to 10 days but by your next checkup you should be well on the mend.
Are there some home remedies which I can use for the pain?
If you don’t like using prescription or over-the-counter medication, there are some home remedies which you can try that will help you to get through your recovery with the least amount of discomfort. Some methods you can use with items around the home are as follows:
- Green or Chamomile tea – Save the teabag after you make green or chamomile tea. While it is still warm, place it between lip and gum in the affected area and keep it there for a few minutes. The tannins in these teas have antibacterial properties that can help to keep the wound clean while the warmth soothes that ache to manageable levels.
- Peppermint extract – Aside from the cooling comfort of mint, peppermint extract has a high alcohol content. Soak a cotton ball in this and place it in the affected area of your mouth and within a few minutes the pain should abate noticeably.
- Clove oil – Soaking a cotton ball in clove oil will give you a way to numb the pain that is stronger than the rest of these, but there is a caveat – clove oil has a strong flavor and might not be a fit for everyone. Limit usage to twice a day as this is hard on your stomach.
- Vanilla extract – If you don’t like mint, vanilla has a high alcohol content as well and can help to deaden the pain. Don’t overdo it, though, as the goal is to kill the pain, not ‘drink it away’.
In this article we have discussed what you can do if you are experiencing a broken tooth with the root still in your gum. Remember that this will not go away on it’s own and you will want to seek the help of your dentist. Leaving a dead tooth in place can lead to infection, jaw erosion, and more, so call your dentist immediately!