First, a brief lesson in dental anatomy and terminology: the pathway that runs straight down through the root of the tooth and is occupied by the tooth’s nerve and blood vessels is known as the “root canal”. The canal ends at the very tip of the tooth’s root, referred to as the “apex”. When a root canal procedure is performed, the nerve is removed and the canal is sterilized and filled with a permanent filling material. If the tooth had been previously infected or “abscessed”, the root canal procedure typically resolves the infection and the tooth can be restored and saved.
In the event that the root canal procedure cannot effectively resolve the infection, our dual degree oral surgeon serving the Chicago Loop vicinity, can step in to remove the infected portion of the tooth root in order to save your tooth. The surgical procedure known as an apicoectomy, involves the removal of the tooth’s apex as well as any surrounding hard or soft tissue that may have become damaged, infected or if a cyst has developed.
Once the apex has been removed, sometimes a filling is used to seal the root. The area is usually always grafted in with bone and a membrane is used to cover the bony window that was made for access to the tooth root. The overlying gum tissue will be sutured together in the final step and all of this is carried out under the comforts of sedation. In a matter of months, the bone will heal around the root and a follow-up visit will be scheduled to monitor the healing process.
Generally, an apicoectomy is not the solution of choice when the tooth has been root canal has bee re-treated, or when the tooth root is fractured. It is an appropriate “final attempt” which can be an effective method of preserving your natural teeth that are already facing the possibility of extraction, although the success rates are only moderate.
All surgical procedures are unique, and the prognosis for the outcome of the procedure must be determined on an individual basis. In most cases, an apicoectomy is only recommended when there is a reasonable expectation that the tooth can be saved. Long term success, approximately 10 years, can be achieved in select cases. Some statistics demonstrate as high as about 85% of apicoectomy procedures are successful long-term, while others show the success rate as low as 25%. With the help of advanced dental technology, the success rate is often higher than average and the recovery period is more favorable.
To find out if an apicoectomy is necessary to save your tooth, contact ORA® Oral Surgery & Implant Studio at 312-328-9000 today for an evaluation.