The teeth are held securely in place by roots that extend into the jawbone. Molars and premolars have two or more roots. However, the front teeth only have a one root. The end of each root is called the apex. Here, the nerves and blood vessels enter the tooth, and aid in the delivery of blood to the crown.
An apicoectomy is recommended when an infection develops after root canal treatment. During root canal treatment, the pulp, which is the living tissue inside the tooth, is removed in order to save the tooth. Next, the area is filled with special, medicated, dental materials, in effort to reestablish the tooth to its full function. However, infected debris can persist and possibly avert healing or cause re-infection in the future. In an apicoectomy, the infected tissue and root tip (apex) is removed. Next, a filling is placed to seal the end of the root.
Infected roots that are untreated may potentially damage additional teeth, spread infection and even cause regression of the jawbone. The dentist typically only considers an apicoectomy when a root canal treatment has failed.
Some examples that make a apicoectomy necessary are small adjoining root branches, blocked root canal or narrow/curved root canals.
What is the process of getting an apicoectomy?
- Panoramic x-rays are taken prior to the surgery. The dentist also typically prescribes an antibiotic or anti-inflammatory medication.
- Next, the dentist will make a small incision in the gum and reveal the root by lifting away the gum.
- Ultrasonic instruments will be used to remove the edge of the root tip and infected connective tissues.
- A filling material called retrofill will seal the root. The gum may require several stitches.