How an Apicoectomy Can Save Your Tooth
By J. Brent Gorrell on March 07, 2018
When the inside structures of a tooth become compromised, root canal therapy may be necessary. But what happens if the problem persists after your procedure? In these rare cases, an apicoectomy can be performed to remove the very end of the problematic tooth root. At our Mountain View, CA practice, Dr. J. Brent Gorrell offers a variety of treatments in endodontics, including apicoectomies. Read on to learn more about this procedure, and how it can help preserve your oral health.
When is an Apicoectomy Necessary?
If your tooth becomes infected or inflamed again after you have undergone root canal therapy, is often the result of a problematic root. Sometimes, root canal re-treatment is considered as a first option. However, if this is not feasible, an apicoectomy is generally recommended. This procedure can save the tooth from extraction and help preserve your natural smile.
Apicoectomy vs Root Amputation
An apicoectomy is similar to a root amputation. In both cases, the offending portion of the tooth is removed. However, a root amputation involves re-sectioning the tooth and removing the entire root. In contrast, an apicoectomy simply involves eliminating the tip of the root in an effort to isolate and remove any infection and bacteria.
Preparing for an Apicoectomy
Before undergoing the procedure, Dr. Gorrell will take x-rays and perform a thorough assessment to make sure an apicoectomy is the most appropriate option. If the infection around the root is severe, your doctor may recommend taking antibiotics for a few days before the treatment. You may also be given an antibacterial mouth rinse.
How the Procedure Works
When you arrive on the day of your procedure, Dr. Gorrell will administer local anesthesia to keep you comfortable and numb the gums during the procedure. To access the tooth root, a small incision will be made in the gum tissue, and the gums will be moved back. Before proceeding, Dr. Gorrell will use a dye to illuminate any fractures, which can sometimes be difficult to see on an x-ray. If a fracture is discovered, the tooth will be removed instead of performing an apicoectomy. If the tooth is otherwise stable, the treatment will continue. Using specialized dental instruments, the tip of the root will be excised and removed along with any necrotic surrounding tissue. The remaining portion of the tooth root will be cleaned and disinfected, and the tooth will be sealed to deter bacteria from re-infecting the area. Finally, an x-ray will be taken before closing the surgical site with stitches. Generally, the entire procedure can be completed in about an hour or so in our office. Molar teeth may take slightly longer since they are located in the very back of the mouth.
Following Your Apicoectomy
Upon leaving our office, you will be given a detailed list of post-operative instructions regarding aftercare and medication guidelines. During the first 24 hours, apply a cold compress to the external jaw in 20-minute increments. This will help reduce swelling and inflammation. In addition to the prescription medications, over-the-counter anti-inflammatories can be taken as well, as swelling tends to peak around the second or third day.
Contact Us to Learn More
Saving a tooth is always preferable when feasible. If you are experiencing complications from a failed root canal, an apicoectomy could be the solution for you. To learn more, contact us online or call our office at (650) 967-1441.
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“I moved out of the area 20 years ago and happily drive 40 miles to still see Dr. Gorrell. Best dentist ever.” Kevin B.