February 3, 2010


The Basics of Endodontics

Endodontic treatment targets the “pulp” that is found in the tooth’s root canal as well as the tissues that surround the root. Tooth decay or damage can sometimes lead to an infection or inflammation of this soft inner tissue. This can often be painful, and it may lead to an abscess at the root’s tip. If left alone, this may lead to the need for a tooth to be removed. The key purpose of endodontic therapy (or a “root canal”) is to save the tooth and avoid this outcome.

When a Root Canal Won’t Do

While the root canal process is often all it takes to treat infected or damaged pulp, more work may be called for. Endodontic therapy is a way to extract the damaged pulp. When the pulp is gone, the root canal is cleaned, sculpted, and sealed.

In some cases, the endodontist may advise the patient to have surgery. Endodontic surgery helps the endodontist to find breaks or cracks in the tooth that can cause pain and may be too small to show up in x-rays.

How an Apicoectomy Works

The standard endodontic surgery is known as an apicoectomy (sometimes called a “root-end resection”).

In this type of procedure, the endodontist cuts into the gum tissue to reveal the bone under the tooth as well as the inflamed tissue around it. The damaged tissue is removed along with the tip or “apex” of the root. A filling is then placed in the root-end in order to block a return of the root infection. The gum is then closed and the bone heals over the course of a few months.

After an Apicoectomy

After this procedure, the patient may have some swelling and discomfort. To help deal with the pain, the endodontist may prescribe or recommend pain meds. Those who have pain that is not helped by the meds should talk to their endodontist.

If you have more questions about apicoectomy or related subjects, be sure to talk to your dentist.

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