What is an apicoectomy?

An apicoectomy is a minor surgical procedure performed when patients have an infection in the root of their tooth. Our teeth are held in place by roots that travel into our jawbone. The number of roots a tooth has is dependent on the tooth’s location in the mouth. Front teeth generally only have a single root, while molars can have two or more. An apicoectomy removes the infection along with the very tip, or apex, of the root.

Why would this procedure be necessary?

Your endodontist may recommend an apicoectomy when a traditional root canal has failed to achieve the desired results, and re-treatment was not successful or is not advised. This surgical procedure allows the patient to preserve their natural tooth, which may otherwise have to be removed. Removing a tooth is always a last resort for your dental care team.

What is involved in the procedure?

Local anesthesia will be administered to keep the patient comfortable during the procedure. A small incision is made in the gum line near the base of the affected tooth. This incision allows your dental care professional access to examine and remove any infected tissue. State-of-the-art instruments including fiber optic lights, microscopes, and high-frequency vibration cleaning tools are utilized to remove any plaque, decay, or infection.  To prevent further infection, the tip or apex of the root is removed and capped off with a specialized filling to help ensure the tooth’s health. The incision in the gum is repaired with sutures to aid in proper healing. Depending on the tooth’s location and the severity of the infection, your apicoectomy will take around 30-90 minutes to complete. Over the following months, the bone will heal itself around the root of the tooth restoring its full function.

What to expect after the procedure?

As with any surgical procedure, minor discomfort and swelling afterward is normal. Your dentist or endodontist will provide a post-operative care routine that will include medications to reduce discomfort, foods and beverages to avoid, and a cleaning and maintenance routine. While rest is critical after any surgical procedure, most patients can return to work and their normal routine the following day. If you have any questions or issues regarding your recovery, please contact our office for assistance.