An apicoectomy is a treatment that can be performed on both adults and children to save at-risk teeth. Our endodontists in Toronto discuss apicoectomies, why they are performed, and what's involved in the procedure.
What is an apicoectomy?
Often referred to as root-end surgery, an apicoectomy involves removing a tooth's root tip and surrounding tissue. It's usually performed by an endodontist, but can also be done by your dentist. If you've already had a root canal, you might require an apicoectomy due to persistent inflammation that has reached your jawbone.
Why is an apicoectomy used?
An apicoectomy removes the root tip of a tooth to help avoid complications that might impact several teeth in the future. When a regular root canal treatment is insufficient, the technique is normally advised. If there are no other options, you may require a tooth extraction and an implant, bridge, or removable partial denture to prevent nearby teeth from shifting.
Is an apicoectomy painful?
During the surgery, patients will be given a local anesthetic to assist in preventing any pain. Most will only feel pressure during the procedure itself. Minor soreness and swelling are common following the treatment, and over-the-counter pain relievers are normally advised.
What is an apicoectomy procedure like?
Before the surgery begins, you will be given a local anesthetic to numb the surgical area. The dentist or endodontist will then cut through the gum and push the gum tissue aside to reach the root. Usually, only a few millimetres of the root are removed.
After this, the dentist or endodontist will clean the root canal and seal it with a small filling to prevent future infection. They might take additional dental x-rays to see that your tooth and jaw are in good working order. Finally, the tissue will be stitched back together so your gums can heal and grow back in place.
Stitches are normally removed within a week, and brushing and flossing near the site of your procedure should be done with caution. Anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, should be adequate for pain relief. Antibiotics might be prescribed by your doctor to help treat an existing infection or to avoid a postoperative infection.
Are there risks?
While it is rare, you may experience further infections or nerve damage. Because apicoectomies are also considered routine dental procedures, these side effects are unlikely and are considered to be risks of any dental procedures, not just apicoectomies.
An apicoectomy is a routine procedure usually recommended if a root canal isn't sufficient. Apicoectomies can also be advisable if a root canal operation has failed and an infection has developed around the root tip of a tooth. The alternative to an apicoectomy is tooth extraction. An infection around one of your teeth has the potential to spread and cause major oral health issues. Thus, it is important to contact your dentist as soon as possible if you are experiencing tooth pain.