Did you know dentures reduce your ability to chew by at least 30% to 40%? That means if you don’t take care of your teeth now, you’ll have to say goodbye to your favorite chewy snacks and high-fat foods when you get older.
But caring for your teeth isn’t just about getting your bi-annual cleanings. It also means taking care of that cracked tooth that’s been causing you issues for years. That’s where an apicoectomy comes in.
Apicoectomies are also known as endodontic microsurgery. And this dental surgery helps keep your teeth in good shape for years to come.
So, want to know if you’d benefit from endodontic microsurgery? Then check out this guide for everything you need to understand about an apicoectomy.
What is an Apicoectomy and Who Needs One?
When a root canal isn’t enough to fix your damaged tooth, your dentists may recommend an apicoectomy. During this minor surgical procedure, the endodontist removes the tip of the tooth’s root. The root canal is then sealed to prevent further decay and damage.
Ideally, endodontic microsurgery will help the surrounding bone heal. This can save your teeth from future damage, granting you tooth health for many years to come.
Sound good? We think so, too, but keep in mind that not everyone needs to undergo this type of dental surgery. Check out the 5 top reasons people get apicoectomies.
5 Reasons to Get an Apicoectomy
Dentists will typically recommend a root canal first. But in some cases, a root canal doesn’t fix the pain in your tooth. Only then will a dentist refer you to an endodontist because you’re experiencing:
- Tooth pain that doesn’t go away after root canal treatments
- Calcium deposits make a root canal implausible
- A tooth that gets re-infected years after a root canal
- The damage is to the root surface or surrounding bone
- Inflammation and infection persist directly after a root canal
Here are the symptoms to look out for that may mean you need an apicoectomy.
Signs You Need an Apicoectomy
The first sign that you might need endodontic microsurgery is tooth pain. When the pulp of your tooth gets infected or inflamed due to trauma or aging, the pulp may die. This causes a severe toothache, jaw pain, and even migraines.
Dead or decaying tooth pulp also eventually leads to tooth loss. You may recognize a tooth in need of endodontic microsurgery by its brown color. Usually, this means the underlying root and pulp have already died, and the tooth itself in the process of decay.
If you experience any of these symptoms, go first to your dentist. A root canal is the first line of defense. But if your dentist deems the issue too severe, they’ll refer you to an endodontist for an apicoectomy.
How Does Endodontic Microsurgery Work?
So, you think you might need an apicoectomy. But you’re nervous about what to expect from the procedure. We understand your anxiety, and we want to ease it by walking you through the 3 phases of endodontic microsurgery: the pre-operative imaging phase, the surgery itself, and the post-operative care phase.
The Imaging Phase
The first thing an endodontist will do is diagnose the problem. This requires imaging of the infected or decaying tooth. X-rays or cone beam-computed tomography (CBCT) scans are most common for diagnosing teeth in need of surgery. These scans will give the endodontist a 3D view of your teeth, allowing them to identify fractures and other damages to the root canal.
After diagnosing the issue with scans, you’ll come back for the surgery itself. Your endodontist should prepare you with a pre-surgery checklist of what not to do before your surgery.
When you arrive for your procedure, you’ll have anesthesia applied to the region where the surgery will occur. Then, the endodontist makes a small cut in the gum under which the infected root is located. The root is cleaned of inflamed and infected pulp before the tip of the root canal is removed.
After excising the infected tissue and root tip, your endodontist will fill the root canal. This is a tiny filling meant to help the gums heal correctly. Because now that the infection is cleared out, the tissue will have time to mend itself.
For most people, this marks the end of the apicoectomy. But some extreme cases may require bone grafting. Grafts are meant for cases in which the surrounding bone is significantly damaged to the point that it needs to regrow for ideal tooth and gum health.
After the Surgery
Apicoectomies are surprisingly quick and comfortable. Endodontists use state-of-the-art techniques and tools to ensure it. What’s more, endodontic microsurgery is successful in up to 91% of cases.
However, the outcome of your surgery often depends on how well you follow your endodontics after-surgery care instructions. For more information about post-operative self-care, browse this surgical instructions guide.
Alternatives to Apicoectomies
Once you get to the point of needing an apicoectomy, there aren’t many alternatives to consider.
For those who either can’t undergo the procedure or fear surgery, you could opt for a second root canal. This works best when your dentist spots the reoccurring infection early on. The second root canal can easily clean up the infection without having to turn to surgical techniques.
But if the reoccurring infection is far along, there’s usually no alternative to endodontic microsurgery.
Endodontic Microsurgery in Lexington and London, Kentucky
Do you think an apicoectomy could help you get a healthier, brighter smile? Jenkins, Morrow, and Gayheart Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery center can help. Contact us today to get the answers to all your endodontic microsurgery inquiries.