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Apicoectomy Recovery: What to Expect

Seattle, WA Family Dentist

Many people undergo an apicoectomy procedure every year; if you are one of them, you are probably wondering what the recovery process is like. Apicoectomies tend to be very successful procedures, with a high success rate of around 97%. If you are about to have surgery or are in the early stages of your apicoectomy recovery, we are here to help you!

Olympic View Dental is happy to provide you with all the information you need to make a smooth and comfortable recovery, including everything from pain management to diet and exercise.

What is an apicoectomy?

An apicoectomy, or root-end surgery, is a surgical procedure performed to remove the apex of the tooth. This is typically done when a tooth has been damaged by infection or decay and cannot be saved with a traditional filling or crown. Usually, the decaying tooth affects the healthy surrounding teeth and bone, so surgery is needed to prevent further damage. The surgery is relatively minor and can often be completed in one visit. Recovery from an apicoectomy can be tricky, but you can ensure a healthy recovery with proper care.

What does the average apicoectomy cost?

Most apicoectomies cost between $900- $1,300 without insurance. For patients with a dental plan, deductibles can range from $100 to $500. If patient insurance covers dental procedures, up to 90% of the surgery may be substituted. However, the price for prescribing antibiotics for apicoectomy healing will vary.

What is the difference between a root canal procedure and an apicoectomy?

Root canals and apicoectomies are similar, but an apicoectomy is a more extensive process than a root canal treatment.

Inside your tooth, a soft layer of tissue is known as pulp. Your tooth’s pulp contains blood vessels and nerves that help the roots develop. The pulp will break down if it has been damaged by decay or trauma. After that, bacteria will infect the space previously occupied by the pulp. This will ultimately result in a painful abscess. A root canal treatment is a dental procedure that removes this infected pulp. The infected tissue is removed, and the tooth is sealed.

An apicoectomy takes the root canal procedure a step further. In addition to removing the infected tissue, the dentist will also remove the root tip and then seal your tooth to prevent further infection.

An apicoectomy isn’t the first treatment method for a damaged or diseased tooth. The roots of your tooth are complex and consist of multiple root branches. The smaller root branches are prone to accumulating debris and bacteria. If your oral health care provider cannot determine the exact location of the infection, an apicoectomy is the only option.

How do I know if I need an apicoectomy or root canal treatment?

Pain or nerve damage are the most common symptoms of a tooth that needs either a root canal procedure or an apicoectomy. The pain can range from a dull ache to sharp, throbbing pain. The pain is usually worse when chewing or applying pressure to the affected tooth. Additionally, you may experience hot or cold sensitivity and swelling around the tooth.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should contact your dentist right away. Your dentist will examine your teeth and decide which procedure you need in order to fully heal the infection.

How to Prepare for an Apicoectomy

You will learn more about the procedure during your consultation with your dentist. Your general dentist can usually do the surgery, but they may refer you to an endodontist. The endodontist will take X-rays, and you may be given an antimicrobial mouthwash. They may also prescribe antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication before the surgery.

A local anesthetic for an apicoectomy contains about twice as much epinephrine as used during a filling. The additional dose of epinephrine shrinks your blood vessels to reduce bleeding near the surgical site. Your heart rate may speed up after receiving the local anesthetic, but this will subside after a few minutes. You must notify your dentist if you have high blood pressure or any problems with the epinephrine that is in local anesthetics. 

The endodontist will rinse your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash before your surgery, but you should also be sure to do a dental cleaning at home before your appointment. Make sure to brush, floss, and rinse your teeth to remove all the food in your mouth.

What to Expect During the Surgery

The apicoectomy procedure is performed under a general anesthetic, so the patient is asleep. An apicoectomy takes around 40 to 90 minutes to complete depending on the tooth’s location. The dentist will begin by making a small incision in the gum tissue near the tooth and removing the inflamed or infected tissue. They will then use ultrasonic instruments to help clean and seal the root tip with graft material. This material’s purpose is to keep the root structure intact. Finally, the gum tissue is closed with stitches, and you’ll be on your way to feeling back to normal!

What to Expect After an Apicoectomy

You may experience discomfort and swelling following an apicoectomy and might be more swollen on the second day following the procedure. You will likely have some numbness in your gums and lips following the surgery; this is caused by the local anesthesia and will resolve on its own within a few hours. During your follow-up appointment, your stitches will be removed.

Tips for Quick Recovery

It is essential to take it easy during the apicoectomy healing process, as you may feel some discomfort or soreness in the days following your procedure. Rest for the first few days is a critical part of healing and will help your gums heal properly. Your doctor will provide detailed instructions after the surgery, which may include prescription medication and aftercare suggestions, Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Pain and swelling can be treated with over-the-counter pain medications or ice packs. Ice packs should be applied 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off.
  • For the next few days following your procedure, you should avoid chewing on the side of your mouth where the surgery was performed. Eat soft, bland foods and avoid extremely hot or cold beverages. You will likely be able to resume normal activities within a few days. Avoid hard or crunchy foods as they can irritate your gums.
  • Avoid strenuous activity and exercise while you are healing, as this can increase swelling.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol, using a straw, and smoking as these can cause bleeding.
  • You should brush and floss your teeth gently.
  • Be sure to avoid the affected area until it has healed completely.
  • Gargle with salt water or an antiseptic wash.

Even though an apicoectomy is considered surgery, many people say that recovering from this procedure is more manageable than recovering from a root canal.

After surgery, it is essential to follow up with post-operative instructions to prevent additional infection which may cause serious complications. If you believe you may be in need of an apicoectomy, be sure to contact our office for an exam. We will work with you to ensure that your surgery and recovery go as smoothly and comfortably as possible.