What Is a Coronectomy?

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on October 25, 2021
3 min read

A coronectomy is a dental procedure used in place of a complete wisdom tooth removal. It’s a newer procedure that’s done only in certain situations. 

Wisdom teeth are a set of third molars that usually grow in around the ages of 17 to 21. They got their name because they come in at an older age than the rest of your teeth. 

Wisdom teeth often need to be removed. But in some cases, they don’t cause problems and can be left in place. 

Most people get their wisdom teeth removed because they don’t have enough room to come in and can grow in a way that leads to pain or dental issues. This is called an impacted wisdom tooth. 

The difference between a coronectomy and a traditional wisdom tooth removal is that the coronectomy removes only the crown or visible parts of the tooth. It leaves the roots intact and in place. 

If your wisdom teeth are growing in, talk to your dentist about what they recommend. Depending on the placement of your teeth, they may tell you to get them removed, have a coronectomy, or let your wisdom teeth grow in. 

The coronectomy came about because the roots of wisdom teeth sometimes grow too close or even on top of the inferior alveolar nerve, which connects to your tongue, lips, and lower jaw. Injury to this nerve from a faulty wisdom tooth removal may affect your feeling in these areas.

You can avoid the risk of permanent numbness or tingling by leaving the tooth’s roots. But you shouldn’t have a coronectomy if there is any issue of decay or infection with your tooth or the roots. Leaving in decayed or infected roots will only lead to more complications. 

You will typically have a coronectomy before the wisdom tooth has fully emerged. Your dentist will first have to make a small cut into your gum and remove some of the bone around the tooth. This will let them remove only the crown of the wisdom tooth. Afterward, the gum will be sewn back together. The procedure usually takes about 40 minutes.  

You notice side effects like these for up to 14 days: 

  • Trouble opening your mouth
  • Bleeding from the wound
  • Infection at the wound site
  • Bruised or injured nerves
  • Swollen gums

It might help to switch your diet to soft or liquid foods while you heal. You may also need to wear bandages to protect the inside of your mouth. Be careful and gentle with your dental hygiene, and make sure to clean your mouth thoroughly.

If you smoke, it’s best to quit while you recover to prevent infection. 

Recovery from a coronectomy will take time. Pain or sensitivity are common around the affected area. But if your gums won't stop bleeding or you have lots of discomfort in your gums or jaw, call your dentist. 

After recovery, the most common complication is wisdom teeth roots that become infected and need to be removed. However, this happens in only about 15% of cases and can be handled with another procedure.