1. It is usually difficult to remove broken tooth fragments. Broken tooth fragments tend to get trapped underneath the gums and can become soft and fragile over the years. Removing them is more difficult than removing whole teeth as there is not much left to grab onto. Since most general dentists don’t remove a lot of teeth fragments, chances are your dentist will struggle trying to remove these. Your dentist may wisely choose to refer you to an oral surgeon to avoid damaging your jawbone or other vital structures when removing these fragments. You might want to confirm with your dentist that he or she is comfortable doing this surgery or otherwise request a referral to an oral surgeon.
- Sometimes after removing the tooth fragment a sharp piece of bone may be left behind. Don’t panic as this is usually an easy fix. Bone fragments are usually loose and can be removed with a tweezer like instrument without even the need to numb you. If the bone fragment is not loose you may have to go in for a second surgery to dissect and remove it.
- Many times the stitch will loosen up before your check up appointment. Again, don’t panic as this is not a problem. The stitch is only important for the first two to three days and it doesn’t do much after that period. It is perfectly acceptable to remove it by yourself at this point if they are hanging loose. Dark sutures are usually permanent and require your dentist to remove them while the tan colored ones are dissolvable and vanish on their own.
2. If you are planning on placing a dental implant soon. If you’re planning to place a dental implant where the tooth fragment is, you should leave the fragment alone until the time of the surgery. Unless of course it is infected. Retaining a tooth fragment for a few months will actually help preserve the jawbone until it is time to place the implant. As soon as the broken tooth fragment is removed your bone will start shrinking at an accelerated rate and the success rate and results of the dental implant will decrease. Of course this only works for short-term situations. Planning on leaving a tooth fragment behind for a few years until you receive a dental implant is not an advisable option and you are more likely to end up with pain and infection as a result.
3. Sometimes the risk of removing a tooth fragment outweighs its benefits. This typically applies to wisdom teeth fragments left behind in dangerous locations. Sometimes when your dentist or oral surgeon removes the tooth and a small piece breaks off and becomes dislodged deep within your jawbone. If your dentist feels that removing the tooth fragment can cause damage to your vital tissues, such as your nerves or your sinuses, he or she may elect to leave it alone and simply monitor the situation. It is important that this information is clearly explained to you and that you fully comprehend and understand where and why the tooth fragment is left behind.
- Make sure to always remember this information as chances are years later you may go to another dentist and they may become concerned over this fragment, so unless you can recall and explain the situation to them you might be faced with an unnecessary surgery or biopsy!