An apicoectomy is a surgical treatment performed by oral and maxillofacial surgeons and is necessary when an infection of the tooth cannot be solved by root canal therapy. This treatment can be used on any teeth at any location in the mouth, whether the infection is located in a front tooth with a single root or in the premolars and molars with two or more roots.
One common form of treatment for an infection of the tooth that most patients have heard of is a root canal. A root canal is usually performed by a general dentist or endodontist and is necessary when an infection has developed in the nerve canal or around the tip of the tooth root. The tooth canal acts as a roadway for nerves and blood vessels between the tip of the root and the inside of the crown, which is also known as the pulp chamber. Root canal therapy can be extremely beneficial when the problem is identified early, but an infection may persist after treatment and an additional surgical procedure will be necessary to solve the problem.
Infections around the tooth root occur deep within the bone. Sometimes, infections within the tooth can be solved with root canal therapy; however if the tooth develops another infection after treatment or the problem persists, an apicoectomy is usually recommended. This treatment, also known as endodontic surgery, is usually done with magnification and attempts to ensure that the tooth does not develop additional infections or complications.
What is the purpose of an apicoectomy?
By treating the damaged tooth with an apicoectomy procedure, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon is able to mitigate the problem. When an infection within the tooth root is not properly treated, the infection may result in complete loss of the tooth; an apicoectomy helps the patient avoid tooth extraction. Every patient has a unique oral composition and the structure and shape of some teeth increase the risk of infection.
An apicoectomy may be recommended if your teeth exhibit any of the following characteristics:
- Small Root Branches/Lateral Canals. Patients who have branches or lateral canals that are smaller than average are at a greater risk for persistent infection because they are more difficult to clean and seal during a root canal procedure.
- Curved or Narrow Root Canals. This narrow or curved shape makes it difficult for a general dentist to properly clean the infected area to prevent further infection. Patients whose teeth have narrow or curved root canals run a higher risk of persistent infection following root canal therapy and may need an apicoectomy to solve the problem.
- Root Canal Blockage. On occasion, debris from the first procedure blocks the root canal or the canal is too small and proper cleaning becomes extremely difficult. If this is the case, an apicoectomy may be necessary to take care of the problem. If a patient has already undergone root canal therapy once and develops a second infection at a later date, the dentist may experience difficulty completing a second procedure, which is when the patient is referred to an oral surgeon.
During an apicoectomy, the oral surgeon magnifies the tooth the get the most detailed image of the infection prior to treatment. This can be performed in 30–90 minutes depending on the tooth being treated (front or back) and the severity of the problem.
If you are in need of an apicoectomy, Dr. Hernandez will perform a thorough oral examination during your initial consultation. 3D CT scans may be needed in order for him to determine the least invasive path to solving the problem and ensure optimal recovery following the procedure.
If you are in need of an apicoectomy, we encourage you to contact our office in Fort Lauderdale, FL, for an initial consultation.