Most people know that root canals can help save teeth badly damaged by decay or trauma. But there’s another important dental procedure that’s not as well known — one that focuses on the tip of the tooth root. It’s called an apicoectomy, and like root canal therapy, it plays a critical role in preventing tooth loss.
While a root canal treats damage in the central pulp portion of a tooth, an apicoectomy takes care of infection and inflammation involving the end of the root that’s embedded in your jaw. This simple surgical procedure helps prevent infection from spreading and potentially damaging the bone tissue.
The team at Compassionate Endodontists New York/NYC uses advanced apicoectomy techniques to treat deep infections in patients from throughout New York City. If an apicoectomy is in your future, here’s what to expect.
When an apicoectomy is performed
An apicoectomy is similar to a root canal in that both address infection and damage to the “unseen” parts of your tooth. But while a root canal handles damage in the central pulp part of the tooth, an apicoectomy focuses on the end of the tooth root (sometimes called the apical tip).
Typically, an apicoectomy is performed when a prior root canal or similar restorative treatment has failed to relieve pain or eliminate an infection, when a tooth treated by root canal is reinfected at the root, or when root canal therapy is not an option. Other reasons for an apicoectomy include:
- To treat a fracture in the lower part of the tooth
- To remove calcium buildup in the root canal
- To remove a tooth root that’s developed a hole
- To treat bone loss that could cause tooth loss
Like root canal therapy, an apicoectomy helps save a natural tooth and maintain your normal bite mechanics.
Sometimes, in the case of a very minor soft tissue infection, antibiotics may be all that’s needed to stop an infection. But when the root tip is involved, apicoectomy is the best option to relieve symptoms and prevent the infection from spreading into the jaw or other areas.
What happens during an apicoectomy
Prior to recommending an apicoectomy, our team will use imaging techniques, like X-rays and 3D digital imaging, to evaluate the tooth root and the tissue surrounding it. Digital imaging lets our team map out your treatment ahead of time, too.
At the start of treatment, we’ll numb your gums with a local anesthetic to keep you comfortable. No general anesthesia or sedation is required.
Once your tissue is numb, we make a small incision over the tooth root so we can examine the area. Next, we remove diseased gum tissue along with the tip of the tooth root. The root cavity is filled with a special filling to seal it off, then the gum tissue is closed with a few stitches.
What to expect after your procedure
After your procedure, you might have some minor bleeding, but this typically stops within a couple of hours. It’s best to keep your head elevated to reduce swelling in the area. Over-the-counter pain medicine can help with swelling and discomfort. There’s no downtime afterward, and you can go back to your regular routine.
You can still brush and floss, but you should avoid the treated area during the early stages of healing. Rinsing with salt water can help bring down swelling. Our team will provide you with complete care instructions before you leave the office.
Don’t ignore jaw pain
An apicoectomy plays an important role in preserving natural teeth and preventing serious infections. If you have jaw or tooth pain after a root canal or in an untreated tooth, don’t ignore it. Call 929-229-0255 or book an appointment online at Compassionate Endodontists New York/NYC today.