This is a procedure that may be performed to reduce the risk of nerve damage if you require removal of a lower wisdom tooth that Dr Mallorie feels is lying very close to the main nerve that runs within the lower jaw (called the inferior alveolar nerve).
Before removing any wisdom tooth we first obtain a 2-DImensional X-ray called an Orthopantomography, or "OPG" for short. This is a standard dental panoramic X-ray that allows the surgeon to assess the anatomical shape of the roots of the wisdom teeth to be removed as well as their proximity to the major nerve canal that runs under the lower teeth supplying sensation to the teeth and the skin of the lip and chin. It is vital to determine whether or not the nerve is in intimate contact with the wisdom tooth prior to it's removal in order to try and keep the risk of damaging the nerve as low as possible.
If the 2-Dimensional X-ray suggests the nerve may be intimately contacting the tooth Dr Mallorie sends his patients for a 3-Dimenisional cone beam CT scan which allows absolute visualisation of where the nerve runs in relation to the roots. If the nerve is a safe distance then conventional removal of the tooth is planned. However, if the nerve is in intimate contact with the roots then a procedure called a "coronectomy" is performed. This essentially involves removing the top half of the tooth and leaving the lower half in place. Proving the tooth was not infected to begin with, your body heals up around the root fragment and the gum seals across the top as normal as if the tooth had been removed completely. The huge advantage of this procedure is that it has been shown to cut the risk of nerve damage in high risk cases from as much as 8% down to 0.06% which is a huge benefit to our patients. [Patel, V., Gleeson, C.F., Kwok, J. and Sproat, C., 2013. Coronectomy practice. Paper 2: complications and long term management. British Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, 51(4), pp.347-352.]
Dr Mallorie has been performing this procedure for many years and in his hands it is a safe and predictable process.