WHAT IS AN APICOECTOMY?
It is a minor surgical procedure in which the very tip of the tooth’s root is removed and sealed. It is usually performed by an endodontist, a dentist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of tooth pain from root canal disease.
HOW IS THE PROCEDURE PERFORMED?
In this procedure, the endodontist opens the gum tissue near the tooth to see the underlying bone and to remove any inflamed or infected tissue. The very end of the root is also removed.
A small filling may be placed in the root to seal the end of the root canal, and a few stitches or sutures are placed in the gingiva to help the tissue heal properly.
Over a period of months, the bone heals around the end of the root.
Occasionally, a nonsurgical root canal procedure alone cannot save your tooth and your endodontist will recommend surgery.
WILL THE PROCEDURE HURT?
Local anesthetics make the procedure comfortable. Of course, you may feel some discomfort or experience slight swelling while the incision heals. This is normal for any surgical procedure. Your endodontist will recommend appropriate pain medication to alleviate your discomfort.
Your endodontist will give you specific postoperative instructions to follow. If you have questions after your procedure, or if you have pain that does not respond to medication, call your endodontist.
CAN I DRIVE MYSELF HOME?
Often you can, but you should ask your endodontist before your appointment so that you can make transportation arrangements if necessary.
WHEN CAN I RETURN TO MY NORMAL ACTIVITIES?
Most patients return to work or other routine activities the next day. Your endodontist will be happy to discuss your expected recovery time with you.
HOW DO I KNOW THE SURGERY WILL BE SUCCESSFUL?
Your dentist or endodontist is suggesting endodontic surgery because he or she believes it is the best option for saving your own natural tooth. Of course, there are no guarantees with any surgical procedure. Your endodontist will discuss your chances for success so that you can make an informed decision.
WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES TO ENDODONTIC SURGERY?
Often, the only alternative to surgery is extraction of the tooth. The extracted tooth must then be replaced with an implant, bridge, or removable partial denture to restore chewing function and to prevent adjacent teeth from shifting. Because these alternatives require surgery or dental procedures on adjacent healthy teeth, endodontic surgery is usually the most biologic and cost-effective option for maintaining your oral health.
No matter how effective modern artificial tooth replacements are—and they can be very effective—nothing is as good as a natural tooth. You’ve already made an investment in saving your tooth. The pay-off for choosing endodontic surgery could be a healthy, functioning natural tooth for the rest of your life.
** PLEASE CONSULT WITH YOUR DENTIST FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ABOUT PROCEDURES, RISKS, COMPLICATIONS AND/OR ADVICE REGARDING YOUR CONDITION