Cutting Edge Technology

What is an Apicoectomy?

Published on June 21st, 2019

Simply stated, an apicoectomy is a surgical procedure performed by an endodontist as an alternative treatment option to a conventional root canal. During this minor surgical procedure, the very tip of the tooth’s root is removed and sealed.

Without getting too far into the “scientific weeds,” the space inside the tooth called the pulp chamber houses the pulp, the tissue that keeps the tooth alive. A root canal is needed when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected, and this can happen for any number of reasons. It might be deep tooth decay, repeated dental procedures performed on one tooth or some traumatic damage to the tooth.

Performing a conventional root canal, an endodontist drills a small access hole into the pulp chamber, removing inflamed or infected tissue from the pulp chamber and root canals. The area is then disinfected, filled and sealed. The access hole is filled, and a crown may be used to replace lost tooth structure and protect the tooth from further damage.

Root Canal Alternatives

Unfortunately, a conventional root canal does not always resolve the problem with a tooth. A root canal may become re-infected because of new or recurrent decay, possibly from previously undetected extra canals branching from the primary canal at the end of the tooth. In these situations, a better alternative is treating the infection at the end of the root with an apicoectomy.

In contrast to a traditional root canal, an apicoectomy is performed through the gum rather than through the tooth. Once the area is thoroughly numbed, the surgeon makes a small incision through the gum tissue giving access to the infected area. Infected or inflamed tissue is removed along with a small portion of the root tip. A small filling is placed at the end of the root canal to prevent further infection, and the surgeon uses sutures to close the incision so that it heals properly.

An apicoectomy for a failing root canal-treated tooth performed by our highly skilled endodontists at South Loop Dental Specialists or Dental Specialists of North Shore can save it, returning tooth, bone and gum tissues to health for years to come.

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