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A complex system of roots hold your teeth in place. They extend from just beneath your teeth all the way down to the jawbone. Although most teeth only have one root, others like the premolars or molars tend to have two or more. Nerves and blood vessels that enter the tooth are stored at the tooth's end and run all the way around the canal of your root into the tooth's pulp chamber. Problems in this area are usually dealt with through use of a root canal procedure. This involves the cleaning of the root's canals and the extraction of any infected tissue. There are a number of reasons why a root canal will fail to totally reverse the infection and in cases such as this, an apicetomy is often required. Without treatment bone loss in the area will continue, causing the patient a great deal of pain.

Apicectomy Procedure

Prior to having an apicectomy, you will have your dental and medical history looked at by your surgeon who should talk you through the treatment. It is common to have a few x-rays of your teeth and nearby bone structure, before surgery.

Your surgeon will begin by applying a local anaesthetic to the affected area, which will spare you a lot of discomfort. Following this a cut is made into your gum, allowing it to be parted from the bone and enabling easy access. Your dentist then makes use of a dental drill to bore a small hole in the bone covering the tooth's root. Any infected tissue in the area will be cleared away using ultrasonic dental tools before the tip of the root is extracted. The length of the process can often vary, depending on how complex your root structure is but usually takes around an hour to complete.

Aftercare following an Apicectomy

Immediately after surgery most patients will feel some discomfort in the area and it is common to be prescribed painkiller to help with the pain. You will also be prescribed antibiotics to protect against infection and aid the healing process. You will need to keep the affected area as clean as you can after surgery, especially following meals. Any lingering pain in your gums should disappear about a month following surgery.

Risks of an Apicectomy

There are risks involved with any surgical procedure and an apicectomy is no different. If previous apicectomies have been performed on the teeth then the chances of success are often low. Some patients will go on to experience numbness in their gums. Fortunately, this is usually temporary and should completely dissipate after a few months. Complications involving local anaesthetics, whilst rare, do sometimes occur.

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Guide to Dental Diseases, Conditions & Surgery