Your tooth extends into your jawbone with strong roots. These are what keep your teeth in place and protect the pulp of the tooth. The tip of each root is called an apex, which is where nerves and blood vessels enter the tooth and allow blood flow.
If you are still dealing with infection after a root canal procedure, you may need an apicoectomy. This procedure removes the apex of the tooth and then fills it to seal from further infection. If left untreated, the infection can spread to other teeth and cause irreversible damage to the jaw bone.
Reasons for an apicoectomy
Apicoectomy is used as a last resort before extracting a tooth. A dentist will usually only consider doing the procedure if a root canal procedure has already been done. Talk to your dentist if you are unsure if this procedure is right for you.
There are several reasons why an apicoectomy may be necessary:
- Small Adjoining Root Branches: Tooth roots may branch off to several little branches. These can be difficult to get to during a root canal procedure. If one of these branches was infected but not treated, the infection can spread.
- Blocked Root Canal: When the root canal is blocked from prior treatment, it can be hard for the dentist to effectively complete the procedure.
- Narrow or Curved Root Canals: If a root canal is curved, it may be hard the clean out the tip where the infection is. If the infection is left untreated, it can spread and lead to tooth and bone loss.
What is the apicoectomy procedure?
The first step is for the dentist to take x-rays of the affected area in order to the plan for the procedure accordingly. You may be prescribed antibiotics to fight any underlying infection.
Under local anesthesia, the dentist will make an incision in the gum and expose the root of the affected tooth. Sometimes it is necessary to remove a small portion of jawbone to get to the tooth’s root. Using special equipment, the dentist will remove the tip of the root and any excess infection. Once all the infection is cleared, the root will be repaired with a filling material and the gum will be stitched together.
You will receive instructions on aftercare. You may be in pain, so paid medications will be prescribed if necessary. Once ready, the stitches will be removed by your dentist and everything will fully heal over the course of several months.
Contact us if you are experiencing pain in a tooth that has received root canal therapy.