An apicoectomy is a surgical procedure that is pretty straightforward, that can be done both on adults and children as a process to save any teeth that might be susceptible to dental decay or other serious complications.
It is commonly called root-end surgery. As the name suggests, it involves the removal of a tooth’s root tip and the surrounding tissues. It is also called apical surgery, which refers to the apex or the end of the tooth.
If your dental health expert recommends an apicoectomy, it is probably because even though the teeth have already had a root canal, there happens to be an existence of a residual inflammation or infection near the root tip that could reach your jawbone.
What Is an Apicoectomy?
This procedure could be performed by a dentist, though it is usually taken care of by an endodontist- a specialist who is trained in root canal surgeries.
Why It’s Used
This procedure is usually suggested when the standard root canal procedure is already been performed on a tooth, but the tooth still needs additional attention to save the root from further complications.
In certain cases where is an anatomical concern with the root tip, including the ones such as one root crowding into the space of the root next to it, an apicoectomy may be helpful in preventing problems that could affect multiple teeth later on.
If your dentist is recommending this surgery, then there is possibly no other way to save the concerned tooth or teeth except complete extraction of the natural dent. Should that happen, you are most likely to need an implant, bridge, or a removable partial denture to prevent the adjacent teeth from relocating.
Is It Painful?
A tiny bit of discomfort or swelling is normal post-procedure. A study conducted in 2008 confirmed that postoperative pain usually decreases gradually during the initial days, with more than one-third of the subjects, choosing not to take any painkillers.
However, the patients who opted for pain-relieving drugs after the process found sufficient relief from over-the-counter medications.
What’s The Procedure Like?
Here’s a simplified version of the procedure itself:
- Before everything else, you’ll be given a local anesthetic to numb the area around the affected tooth.
- During the procedure, your dentist or endodontist cuts through your gum and pushes the gum tissue aside in order to reach the root. Usually, just a few millimeters of the root are removed, as is any infected tissue surrounding the root.
- After the root tip is removed, the root canal inside the tooth is cleaned and sealed with a small filling to prevent future infection. Your dentist or endodontist may then take another X-ray to make sure your tooth and jaw look good and that there are no spaces where a new infection could take hold.
- The tissue will then be sutured (stitched), so your gum can heal and grow back in place. Your jawbone will also eventually heal around the filling at the end of the root. You shouldn’t feel much if any, pain or discomfort during the procedure.
This process usually takes 30 to 90 minutes to be done with. The time is completely based on the location of the tooth and the intricacy of the root structure.
Post-Apicoectomy and Recovery
You might seem o experience some minor inconvenience and swelling once the anesthetic subsides. This eventually gets better over the next few days, though, and within the next one or two days, you might be able to get back to normalcy.
Your dental health expert might prescribe antibiotics to fight and subside an existing infection or prevent post-operative infection. In cases of pain, anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen should suffice.
Stitches can usually be removed within a week’s time. You are required to be very cautious during brushing and flossing your teeth, near the site of the surgery while the stitches are still on.
Apicoectomy Success Rate
Apicoectomies are considered routine outpatient dental procedures.A study conducted in 2020 confirmed that about 97% of the cases experienced to date have shown excellent results following apical surgery up to 5 years, and good results in more than 75% of cases after 10-13 years on average.
Another study conducted in the same year found that apical surgery was a dependable way to preserve the natural teeth, affected by an infection or other similar problems at the root, with a 91.4% success rate for at least a year.
Risks And Complications
For the rarest of the rare cases, you might unfortunately experience some more infection or nerve damage. However, these incidents are quite unlikely to happen, and their occurrence is not specific to this particular procedure and can happen after other similar dental procedures.
An apicoectomy is considered a failure only if it fails to provide appropriate relief symptoms or doesn’t heal properly. Failure in the domain of this surgery is pretty rare and occurs especially if your dentist or endodontist is not sufficiently experienced.
A study conducted in 2011 study showed that the primary reason behind apical surgery failure is a gap in the filling at the end of the root. This can lead to the bacteria sneaking back into the tooth.
An apicoectomy is a routine outpatient surgical procedure that’s performed when standard root canal therapy isn’t enough to save a tooth. It can prove to be an important step in preventing serious complications involving your oral health, dental hygiene, and your jaw.
Apicoectomies are usually suggested if a root canal surgery was unsuccessful in bringing in the desired results, and there is an infection still present around the root tip of a tooth.
It is important for you to understand that the alternative to this procedure is the extraction of your natural tooth or teeth. So, if your dentist is suggesting root tip surgery, it is probably for the best.
Don’t delay or procrastinate in making a decision about getting an apicoectomy. An infection or inflammation around one of your teeth can spread in no time, leading to serious dental and oral health complications.