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Oral Surgery/extraction of former root canal


QUESTION: About more than a decade ago, I had a root canal done that by now has fallen off. The post with pieces of plastic like came out several years ago, and now, 10 days ago a small piece of tooth came off, leaving only a little piece of tooth left. Since the small piece of tooth came off 0 days ago, the area is slightly hurting, not sure if it's the tooth or the gum as it started to hurt when I ate pretzels and it hit the area. The area hurts when I brush there, eat something cold and every now and then I will get a touch of pain throughout the day. Next Wednesday I am having it extracted by an oral surgeon. Just wondering if extracting this small piece of tooth, which was previously a root canal, will be different any from extracting a regular tooth. Since it's so small, will it be difficult to extract? Also, I will be leaving for Europe on July 7th, are 12 days enough to recover well? If the dentist wants to prescribe antibiotics, can I avoid them and let my immune system kick in? Thank you!

ANSWER: Melissa - the removal of the remaining portion of the tooth, most likely all root, is a little more difficult than a regular extraction.  The root might be loose from infection, but occasionally it becomes tighter.  The surgeon might have to cut the gum to better expose the root.  So this will be different than a regular extraction.

Usually, even difficult extraction sites heal within 7-10 days.  So having the extraction done soon should be OK. So get the tooth removed soon.  I wish you well and hope it all goes well. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me again.

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QUESTION: Thank you for replying. Would a surgical extraction for a remaining portion of a root canal tooth be comparable to an impacted wisdom tooth, or is it much easier? Is is a problem for the surgeon if I tend to gag at times and need a break to rest my jaw every now and then (I have TMJ). Also, are complications such as severe pain, extensive bleeding and infection after the extraction likely? I am so scared. thank you.

Melissa - the removal of that root should be less intricate and than the extraction of an impacted wisdom tooth.  Gagging should not be a problem, but it is important to advise the surgeon in advance so he can make sure not to stimulate a gag.  It is also important to advise him of the jaw situation.  He can prevent a problem my providing an appliance for you to bite on and remover all the forces on your TMJ.  

Bleeding and pain are always possible.  It is tough for me to predict your possible problems, but usually a single root extraction may provide some soreness afterwards but not excessive pain.

So relax.  If you are seeing a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon, there should be minimal problems at the most.

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Joel S. Teig, DMD, Diplomate ABOMS, retired


I am a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon available to answer questions related to tooth extractions, implant insertion, facial recontruction, facial and oral tumor removal, TMJ dysfunction and various successful treatments, including surgery if all else fails, and occlusal discrepancy requiring orthognathic or jaw surgery.


Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon practicing for over 20 years. Assistant Clincal Professor at State University School of Dentistry.

American Dental Association, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

BA- University of Connecticut DMD-University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine Oral and Maxillofacial Surgical Residency - Roosevelt Hospital, NYC

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