Apicoectomy Surgery: FAQs About This Endodontic Procedure

When your dentist is not able to save your decaying toot with a standard, non-surgical root canal procedure, he or she may recommend visiting an endodontic specialist for an apicoectomy. An apicoectomy is a more involved, surgical root canal procedure in which the gum tissue near the tooth is removed, allowing the endodontist to clear infected tissue away from your tooth and also remove the end of the tooth root to more effectively clear the infected root pulp from the root canals in your teeth.

If you're been scheduled for a apicoectomy, you likely have some questions and concerns about the procedure. Hopefully, these answers will calm your fears and help you know what to expect, so you can step into your surgeon's office feeling comfortable and confident.

Do you need to do anything special to prepare for the surgery?

In most cases, you won't need to prepare for your surgery in any way other than practicing good oral hygiene to keep your oral bacteria levels under control. Brush after every meal, and floss daily. If your tooth is badly infected and is causing you pain, your dentist or endodontist may prescribe antibiotics and/or painkillers for you to take in the days before your surgery. Take these as recommended. You will likely need to attend a pre-surgical appointment, during which your surgeon will take x-rays and make a plan for treating your tooth.

Will the endodontist give you anesthesia during the procedure?

Most apicoectomy procedures are carried out under local anesthesia, which means just your mouth will be numbed while you remain awake. If you are very nervous, your surgeon may also give you a sedative, such as nitrous oxide, to calm you down. In most cases, you should be able to drive yourself home after the surgery, but check with your surgeon to make sure this is the case, and ask someone to drive you, if needed.

Is recovering from an apicoectomy painful?

You will experience some pain as the incision in your gum heals. The area around the treated tooth may also swell. However, your surgeon, from a site like http://www.maplewooddental.com, will recommend either prescription or over-the-counter painkillers to keep the pain and swelling under control. You can also apply cold compresses to your face for 20 minutes at a time to keep the swelling down. Sticking to soft foods and avoiding smoking for about a week after surgery will keep your pain at a minimum and ensure rapid healing.

How much time off of work should you schedule for your apicoectomy?

You will probably want to relax for the rest of the day following your surgery, but should be able to return to work the next day. Most people only take off the day of their procedure; some take off the following day, if they have their surgery in the afternoon or evening. 

Are there risks involved with apicoectomy surgery?

The biggest risk involved in the surgery is that your surgeon will not be able to save the tooth and will need to remove it instead. The chance of this outcome depends on your overall oral health and how severely decayed your tooth is. There is also a small risk of your surgical site becoming infected following the surgery. Following your surgeon's instructions when it comes to sticking to soft foods, keeping your mouth clean, and avoiding smoking will minimize this risk. Contact your surgeon immediately if your mouth is very painful or red after surgery. These are signs of infection, and you'll likely need to take antibiotics to recover properly.

Apicoectomies are used to save teeth that would otherwise need to be removed. If your surgery is successful, you should be able to keep that tooth in your mouth for many more years. Like any surgery, an apicoectomy is not exactly pleasant. However, it is a safer and easier alternative to replacing your tooth with an artificial implant.