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An apicoectomy, also called a surgical root canal, is a dental treatment for an infected tooth root.  An apicoectomy involves surgically removing the tip of the root and the infection.  A filling is placed at the root tip to prevent re-infection.  An apicoectomy may be necessary if root canal therapy fails or is not an option.
In the majority of cases, root canal treatment is successful.  Some people may need a repeated root canal treatment.  Root canal treatments are used to treat pulp infections.  Pulp is the soft substance inside of your teeth.  It can become infected when a cavity or opening in a tooth’s outer layer allows bacteria inside.  However, in cases when root canal treatment has failed or is not an option, an apicoectomy may be performed.

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A pulp infection may or may not cause pain.  You may notice a bump that resembles a pimple on your gum.  You should contact your dentist as soon as possible to ensure prompt treatment.

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Your dentist can examine a re-infected tooth by carefully examining your teeth.  X-rays are used to show if there is a problem.

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After numbing your gums, your dentist will make an incision.  The inflamed gum tissue, the root tip, and infection are removed.  A root-end filling is placed to prevent re-infection of your tooth.  Sometimes a bone substitute might be place to help with healing.  Your gums will be closed with stitches.  After a few months, the bone around the tooth root will heal, restoring full function.
You may experience slight swelling and discomfort following your procedure.  Your dentist may recommend a pain reliever and an icing schedule.  Your dentist will advise you of any restrictions.  Stitches are usually removed 5 to 7 days after a surgery.

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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit