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It can be concerning when a health professional tells you that you need a certain procedure, and you don’t know what it is, such as an apicoectomy. So, what is an apicoectomy and what does it mean for your dental health?

In dentistry, it can sometimes feel as though there is a multitude of words and phrases thrown around that you don’t understand. An apicoectomy is a surgical procedure which removes the apex of the tooth. This is the area where the root and the tooth come together. The procedure is carried out under local anaesthetic and will only be carried out if absolutely necessary.

Why do I need an apicoectomy?

An apicoectomy is carried out when a person has tooth pain caused by an infection. It is generally carried out when root canal treatment has failed. Root canal treatment is different from an apicoectomy. In root canal treatment, the nerve and pulp are removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned. With an apicoectomy, the infection is directly targeted through the removal of the apex. Your dentist will only carry out an apicoectomy after attempting a root canal, as they may be able to target your pain through a root canal initially. An apicoectomy is a much more complex procedure, so they will want to try a root canal procedure first.

How does it work?

If you have been told you need an apicoectomy, the first step will be to have a consultation with an endodontist, who will take an X-Ray or CBCT scan of the infected tooth and assess the situation. On the day of the procedure, you will be put under local anaesthetic. During the procedure, a small incision will be made into the gum tissue near the troubled tooth, and the infected tissue and root tips will be removed. The tooth canal will then be cleaned and sealed, and a small fitting will be placed to prevent reinfection and to help with the healing process.

What is the recovery like?

Luckily, because you will have been put under local anaesthetic, you won’t have experienced any pain during the procedure. However, afterwards, you may experience some soreness around the treated tooth. You may find that it is slightly swollen or bruised. Following the procedure, you will need to put ice on the area regularly for the first twelve hours and make sure you get plenty of rest. Don’t do any strenuous activity.

Your dentist will advise you on what food you can eat, as you may feel some pain when doing so. Soft foods are generally advised. You should also avoid any rigorous brushing or flossing. Most importantly, you will need to make sure you arrange a follow-up appointment with your dentist. They will be able to assess the area and ensure that it is healing correctly. If you follow all advice and guidance, you should make a quick recovery after an apicoectomy, and your sore tooth will feel better in no time.