When root canal therapy has failed and the tooth is still infected, and re-treatment was unsuccessful or not recommended, your dental professional may refer you to an oral surgeon for an apicoectomy. An apicoectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the root tip of the problem tooth along with any surrounding tissue damage. Then, a filling is placed to avoid any further infection. When a root canal fails, an apicoectomy is performed so that you don’t have to lose your tooth.
To alleviate any dental anxiety you may have about the procedure, here are some answers to some frequently asked questions about both root canals and apicoectomies.
Root Canal and Apicoectomy FAQ’s:
- What are common symptoms of a failed root canal? It is completely normal to have swelling after your root canal treatment, but if this does not go away and you feel pain in that area, you should contact your dentist. Another sign that there is a problem is if you see a pimple form near the tooth. This pimple, which is commonly called a fistula, should be a red flag.
- What happens during an apicoectomy? A small incision will be made in your gum where your tooth is infected. After the incision, the oral surgeon will remove infected tissue he may see around the problem tooth. Then, after he removes the root tip, your tooth will be cleaned and the tooth root will be sealed to prevent further infection. The procedure usually takes from 30 to 90 minutes.
- Are there alternatives to getting an apicoectomy? Yes and no. As I mentioned earlier, an apicoectomy is performed as a last resort to save your natural tooth and saving your natural tooth is typically the desired option. Tooth extraction is the next option and getting a dental implant or partial denture in addition to tooth extraction.
- What are some tips for post-op? It is normal for bruising and swelling to occur at the site of the surgical procedure, but should go away with a week’s worth of TLC. Don’t touch the area so to prevent infection and promote a speedy recovery. Eat soft foods and apply an ice pack, alternating on and off every 20 minutes. Take ibuprofen if you experience pain and when brushing your teeth, be very gentle.
- How do I prevent getting a root canal or apicoectomy? Simple. Since root canals are usually performed because of tooth decay and infection, following simple hygiene habits can reduce your risk of root canals. These simple hygiene habits include: flossing once a day, brushing twice a day, scheduling your regular checkups with your dental professional, and if you play sports, wear a mouthguard.
An apicoectomy sounds daunting, but patients have said that the healing process and actual procedure is less painful than the noninvasive root canal treatment. If you need an apicoectomy, make sure you’re in good hands with an experienced oral surgeon and follow their orders on post-op procedures.
Have any of you readers had an a apicoectomy? Tell me all about it in the comments below. I’d love to hear about your experiences.
Thu Nguyen is a writer at Austin Oral Maxillofacial Surgery. Thu is glad she’s never had to have an apicoectomy.