Our molars work hard to crush, grind, and chew our food. They withstand over 100 pounds of pressure per square inch when chewing—and let’s not even discuss stress clenching and grinding! Not surprising, then, that they are our largest and strongest teeth, anchored by multiple roots.
How does this biology work in our favor? Sometimes a tooth suffers decay or damage in the root, or in the bony area surrounding it. When a tooth has only one root, options can be fairly limited. But when a tooth has multiple roots, an endodontist might be able to save your molar with a surgical procedure called a “root resection.”
If the root is too damaged to be repaired by procedures such as a filling, a root canal, or an apicoectomy (removal of the root tip), Drs. Manzoli, Russo, Pauk, Desrosiers, Sahakyants can remove the damaged or infected root entirely. This resection procedure can save a tooth that might otherwise need to be extracted.
What conditions lead your endodontist to recommend a root resection?
- Decay: If serious decay is confined to a single root, a resection might be a good option.
- Damage to the root: A broken root, or one that has suffered a serious fracture or other injury that doesn’t extend too far into the tooth, can be removed to save the healthy part of the tooth.
- Recurring infection: If you have already undergone a root canal for a pulp infection, but the infection keeps reappearing in one root, root removal might be indicated.
- Bone loss caused by gum disease: When periodontitis isn’t promptly treated, the result can be a serious loss of bone around one root. A root resection can facilitate healing in the bone around the tooth, and save the tooth from extraction or loss.
Can all teeth benefit from a root resection?
The maxillary molars, located in the upper jaw, are often the best candidates for a root resection because they generally have three roots, but other multi-rooted teeth might also be considered for root resection treatment. Your endodontist will be able to tell you if the root structure and the overall condition of your molar make root resection an option for saving your tooth.
What’s involved in a root resection?
Because this surgery will necessarily involve the dental pulp, a root canal will be performed before the procedure to remove the nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue inside the tooth. During the root resection, a small incision is made in the gum tissue to expose the roots. The affected root is then sectioned off and removed. The area is carefully cleaned, and the incision closed with a few stiches. Drs. Manzoli, Russo, Pauk, Desrosiers, Sahakyants will give you instructions for post-surgery care, and most likely a permanent crown will be needed to protect the remaining tooth structure.
Roots serve to anchor our teeth, but they aren’t indestructible. On the other hand, an injured or diseased root doesn’t necessarily mean an extraction is necessary or inevitable. If you have a problem in or near a molar root, an endodontic consultation at our Worcester office just might leave you smiling.