A brief explanation of apicoectomies

19 April 2017
 Categories: Dentist, Blog


The root of a tooth is referred to as its 'apex'. The apex serves as the entry point through which blood vessels and nerves enter the tooth structure and reach its pulp chamber. An apicoectomy is the removal of the apex. It is usually performed on a severely infected tooth. Read on to learn more about this dental procedure.

What type of preparations are carried out before this procedure is performed?

Prior to an apicoectomy, the patient's dentist will take several x-rays, so that they can examine the condition of the tooth and the surrounding bone. They will also instruct their patient to rinse out their mouth with a medicated, antimicrobial mouthwash. Additionally, they may recommend that the patient takes a course of preventative antibiotics to reduce the risk of a new infection developing as a result of the procedure.

What happens during an apicoectomy?

During this procedure, an incision is made in the gum tissue around the affected tooth. Any infected or inflamed tissue inside the pulp chamber is then be removed. After this stage is completed, the apex of the tooth is then cut off and taken out. Because this usually results in the end of the tooth's root canal being exposed, a filling needs to be placed on top of this opening to seal it off. Finally, the incision in the gum will be closed with a few stitches.

In what circumstances is this procedure necessary?

An apicoectomy is considered necessary if a dentist has already carried out multiple unsuccessful root canals on a patient's infected tooth (a root canal involves the removal of infected pulp tissue from a tooth, and it is deemed unsuccessful if it does not completely remove the infection). In this situation, an apicoectomy may be needed in order to avoid a tooth extraction.

Recovering from an apicoectomy

A person who has undergone an apicoectomy will almost always experience some swelling, soreness and bruising on the side of their face where the procedure was performed. The soreness and swelling can be eased by periodically applying an ice pack to the face. Their dentist may advise them to purchase some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication to reduce the level of inflammation at the wound site.

The person will also usually be instructed to avoid touching the site of the incision, rinsing their mouth vigorously with mouthwash, or consuming hard or crunchy foods, as these behaviours could potentially unbind the stitches before the wound has fully healed.

For more information about this dental procedure or other treatments for your infected tooth, contact a dentist in your area.