What Is an Apicoectomy and How Is It Performed?
Though the word may sound unfamiliar, apicoectomy is actually a very common procedure, and if you've had a root canal, you may have had an apicoectomy as well. So what exactly is an apicoectomy, and why is it used?
The Structure of Your Teeth
Common known, teeth are connected to the jawbone by roots. Most teeth have one root, but larger teeth, like molars and premolars, have two or more. The end of each root (otherwise known as the apex) is the canal through which nerves and blood vessels funnel into the pulp of the tooth. If there is an infection of the canal tissue or the pulp, a root canal treatment is needed. Your dentist will use a file to clean the infected tissue from these canals. Due to the complex nature of the canals, with many smaller parts branching off, it isn't uncommon for a small piece of infected tissue to be left behind. Sometimes the remaining infected tissue can prevent healing or cause another infection in the future. This is where the apicoectomy comes in.
Indications for an Apicoectomy
An apicoectomy is done on a microscopic scale, and thus requires an experienced oral surgeon with advanced training. The purpose of the surgery is to remove the tip, or apex, of the root and seal off the canal. This makes it impossible for the infection to travel back through the canal again. The surgery is initiated when the previous root canal has failed, resulting in re-infection, or when your dentist doesn't want to weaken the crown of your tooth with a secondary root canal. Apicoectomies can also be performed to diagnose persistent tooth issues with unknown causes. By examining the entire root of the tooth, your dentist can identify the problem. If you have other damage to the surface of the root or bone surrounding the tooth, your dentist may want to perform the surgery.
How an Apicoectomy Is Performed
The oral surgeon will use a tool to make a tiny incision in your gum. They will then lift your gum up and away from the tooth, and may use a drill to access the root. Using a dental microscope and an ultrasonic light, the surgeon will remove the rest of the infected tissue and clean and seal off the remainder of the root's canal. Afterwards, the gum tissue will be stitched back into place. Anpicoectomies usually only take 30-90 minutes, depending on the complexity of your root canals. Aftercare entails the same procedures as with any oral surgery, being careful not to brush hard, eating soft foods, and taking OTC pain medication.
Contact us for any other questions regarding this at Solace Oral Surgery, 615-320-1392