Usually, when a tooth develops a bit of decay, it can be treated with a filling. When this decay becomes too severe, however, a root canal treatment may become necessary. A root canal removes decayed and damaged pulp from inside the tooth and fills it in with a synthetic material. If this procedure fails to fix the problem, another procedure will be necessary – an apicoectomy.
An apicoectomy is the most common surgical endodontic procedure. It is also called a root-end surgery as the end of the tooth’s root is removed along with any infected gum tissue that is attached to it (“apico” means root tip and “-ectomy” means removal or resection).
After the completion of the root canal, the gum will be cut in order to access the root tip. A local anesthetic is used to numb the site. The infected tissue is removed, and the root tip is cut. A small filling may be placed on the root at the very end of the root canal in order to seal it, and the gum is put back in place with a few stitches or sutures. This helps the tissue to heal properly.
An apicoectomy procedure can be completed in one office visit as it usually lasts 90 to 120 minutes. The length of the procedure depends on the tooth location and the complexity of the root.
After the surgery, some discomfort may be experienced, which is normal for a surgical procedure. Your dentist can prescribe pain medication to ease the discomfort, and you should be able to resume regular activities the next day.
If a patient does not wish to go through an apicoectomy, the only alternative, unfortunately, is the removal of the tooth. The extracted tooth must then be replaced with a dental prosthetic, such as a crown or bridge.