When the pulp, or soft tissue, of your tooth becomes inflamed or infected, the most common solution is to perform a root canal. During the procedure, a hole is drilled into the tooth whereby dead or decaying tissue is removed. The area will then be cleaned and treated if signs of an infection are present. The tooth is then filled to restore oral function. In most cases, this is enough to save your tooth, but there are times when further treatment is required.
If you’ve undergone a root canal procedure, and treatment did not effectively eliminate the infection and/or relieve pain, the doctors at Fioritto Family Dental may recommend an apicoectomy. What is an apicoectomy and why is it necessary? What can you expect after an apicoectomy? Here’s what you should know.
What is an Apicoectomy?
This endodontic surgical procedure is performed only after a root canal procedure has been performed and was unsuccessful. Just like a root canal, an apicoectomy is performed under local anesthetic. The procedure begins with an incision in the gums to expose the roots of the tooth.
A hole may be drilled to access the root of the tooth, after which dead or decaying tissue will be removed, along with the root tip and any surrounding tissue that may be infected. The tooth will be inspected for further signs of damage, such as cracks or chips that may make it impossible to salvage the tooth. If this is the case, an extraction would be required.
If the apicoectomy proceeds, the end of the tooth’s canal will be cleaned and sealed to prevent further infection. A bone graft may be needed to stabilize the tooth. Finally, the gums will be sutured where the initial incision was made.
Why is Re-Treatment Necessary?
There are several reasons why an apicoectomy may be necessary. If you’ve already had a root canal procedure, but infection persists or spreads, an apicoectomy is an alternative to another root canal if certain conditions exist.
For example, the tooth in question may have a crown or it may be part of a bridge. In each case, existing dental work would have to be destroyed to perform another root canal. With an apicoectomy, this wouldn’t be necessary. Other problems addressed by this procedure include cracks in the tooth’s roots or an anatomical anomaly, which might make an additional root canal unwise.
What to Expect Following Treatment
Swelling and discomfort are typical following this procedure. They can generally be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Eating soft foods is advised for a few days following treatment, and you should also avoid vigorous brushing. Sutures will either dissolve on their own within several days or they will need to be removed.
If you continue to experience pain long after your root canal procedure, an apicoectomy may be needed. Contact Fioritto Family Dental at 440-951-5511 or complete our online form.