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Patient's Guide to an Apicectomy

written by: R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 10/29/2009

This article will focus on an apicectomy and everything a patient needs to know.

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    An apicectomy is a dental procedure in which any infected and inflamed tissue is removed during a root canal procedure. It is important because it helps to prevent future infections, and in turn future root canals. If an infection occurs after a root canal, either another root canal will need to be performed, or more extensive surgery may be required.

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    Why is This Procedure Done?

    This procedure is done to remove infected and inflamed tissue that is found during a root canal. By removing this tissue, a root canal can fully heal. This procedure is also done to help prevent an infection from recurring.

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    What is the Required Preparation?

    Before a patient has this procedure, their dentist will take x-rays of the affected tooth and the bone that surrounds it. Patients will use an antimicrobial rinse, will receive a course of antibiotics, and will receive medications to combat the inflammation. The dentist will then go over the patient's dental and medical history.

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    How is This Procedure Performed and What is Involved?

    An endodontist will begin by cutting the gum and lifting it from the tooth so that they can access the root. A small portion of the root tip and the infected tissue will be removed. A breaks and cracks in a tooth will then be highlighted with a dye to determine if the tooth should be extracted. The end of the tooth canal will then be cleansed and closed. The tooth and surrounding area will then be x-rayed again to make sure the procedure was a success and then the endodontist will stitch the tissues back into place.

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    What are the Risks?

    One of the biggest risks is that the surgery will not be a success. If this occurs, the patient may need to have their tooth extracted. Other possible risks include affecting the sinuses, infection, congestion, and nerve damage. If a patient experiences swelling or pain, or develops a fistula, they should call their dentist as soon as possible.

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    What is the Recovery Like?

    Patients may experience soreness and mild pain for a few days. They may also experience some swelling and bruising. Patients will have to restrict what they drink and eat for a few days. Patients will have to avoid brushing that area of their mouth for a few days. They may be prescribed and antibiotic and a pain medication. They should not smoke when they are recovering. Most patients should be fully recovered within two weeks.

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    Resources

    Health Development Advice. (2009). Apicectomy. Retrieved on October 23, 2009 from Website: http://www.hda-online.org.uk/dentistry/apicectomy/index.html

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