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An apicoectomy is really a minor dental procedure that can save a damaged tooth. It’s also known as a root-end resection because it works on the root of your tooth, called the apex, instead of the top of your tooth, called the crown.
During an apicoectomy, your endodontist will remove the inflamed gum tissue along with the end of your tooth. They will leave the top of your tooth alone.
With a root canal, your endodontist will open the tooth, remove the pulp, and clean the area. They will then fill the canal system and seal it so that it cannot become recontaminated. An apicoectomy, on the other hand really only deals with the root of your tooth. It is usually performed after a root canal in order to fix the tissues around the tooth or the root.
While there are several reasons you might need an apicoectomy, the most common one is to fix a tooth that has had a root canal. While root canals usually last a lifetime, it is possible that the tooth won’t heal properly and can become reinfected as a result. In that case, your endodontist will perform an apicoectomy to remove the damaged tissue and save the tooth.
Other common reasons for an apicoectomy include to remove calcium deposits in a root canal, to treat problems that aren’t showing up on an X-ray, to treat a fractured tooth, to treat teeth with extra roots, to treat bone loss that can cause you to lose teeth, to remove a root with a hole, and to treat tooth injuries in children.
Your endodontist will often take X-rays of your teeth and jaw before performing an apicoectomy. This helps them see exactly what’s happening in the root canal, the root in general, and the surrounding tissue. Once they determine an apicoectomy is necessary, you’ll get some cream and local anesthesia to numb the area.
They will then make a small incision in your gums around the tooth so they can examine the bone and remove any infected tissue. If they determine it’s necessary, they will also remove the tip of your tooth root at this time, refill the tip of the root canal to seal it completely, and put in a few stitches to ensure your gum heals properly.