A tooth with infected pulp (the soft inner portion) requires endodontic, or root canal, therapy to make it healthy again. Sometimes, however, an infected tooth cannot be effectively treated with a conventional root canal. This can happen when the roots are very curved or when the hollow part of the tooth containing the nerve has calcified. Likewise, a tooth which failed to respond to root canal therapy can sometimes be impossible to re-treat. In these cases, extraction is the only option, unless a special procedure, known as an apicoectomy, can be performed. Dr. Joseph Olechowski at Perfect Smiles, LLC in Totowa, NJ, is experienced in performing root canals and other types of endodontic therapy. In most cases, he can perform conventional root canal therapy to bring a tooth back to health, but occasionally, an apicoectomy is required. He and his associate, Dr. Ryan Maher, want their patients to know what this entails.
The Apicoectomy Procedure
An apicoectomy, also known as a root-end resection, is a surgical dental procedure designed to give the dentist access to the tip of a diseased tooth root. It is both safe and predictable, and the procedure is relatively straightforward:
- The surgeon first makes a small incision in the gum tissue adjacent to the affected tooth. The gum tissue is then gently reflected away from the tooth to expose the tip of the root.
- The diseased root tip, along with all the inflamed and infected soft tissue associated with it, is carefully removed and the area thoroughly debrided.
- The end of the root that remains is then filled with a permanent restorative material to seal off the canal of the tooth.
- The gum tissue is then replaced to its original position and secured with three or four stitches.
The entire procedure takes about an hour and can be done in the dental office using local anesthesia to make the area completely numb. Patients who are apprehensive can also be sedated.
What to Expect Afterward
After the procedure is completed, patients are advised to go home and rest for the remainder of the day. They may experience some discomfort, swelling, and bleeding, but these are almost always easily controlled with analgesic medications the doctor will prescribe, along with the application of pressure and ice packs. A soft diet and avoiding very hot or cold foods for several days can help to minimize sensitivity. Patients can usually return to their normal activities the next day.
Over the following months, the area at the tip of the tooth, where the infection was located, will heal and fill in with newly formed bone. The long-term prognosis for a tooth successfully treated with an apicoectomy is excellent.
Get the Facts from the Doctors at Perfect Smiles
Our team understands the importance of a healthy, attractive smile and we strive to provide all the services you need to maintain this goal. To learn more about apicoectomies, as well as other dental health issues, patients are encouraged to contact the experts at Perfect Smiles Family and Cosmetic Dentistry. Contact the practice online to schedule an appointment.