Having an apicoectomy can save your tooth, but like other forms of oral surgery, you will need some recovery time after the procedure. Before you have your apicoectomy, prepare yourself to have a successful recovery with minimal pain and disruption to your life.
What Is an Apicoectomy?
Apicoectomy is the most frequently performed type of endodontic surgery. Its name comes from cutting into the apex of the tooth, which the doctor must do to stop infection in your tooth from spreading elsewhere.
If you need apicoectomy, you have already had one form of endodontic treatment, root canal therapy. Sometimes, a tooth treated with a root canal will have an infection that remains at the apex of the tooth. To reach this distant part from the tooth’s crown, an endodontist must cut into the gums to reach the root end, also known as the apex.
While a root canal is a non-surgical procedure, an apicoectomy is surgical, since it requires the endodontist to cut through the gums to reach the tooth’s apex. Complete healing requires a little extra time compared to non-surgical procedures, as the body needs to regrow bone and close the gum opening.
What Happens During an Apicoectomy?
Depending on which tooth the endodontist treats, an apicoectomy only requires a single visit and up to 90 minutes of treatment time.
Before the endodontist does anything, they will numb your gums around the area of the surgery with an injection of local anesthesia. This should take effect quickly, ensuring that you will not feel anything during the surgery.
The surgery involves the doctor making a small incision in your gum at the base of the tooth that needs treatment. This cut allows the endodontist to reach the tooth’s apex and clean the area. They will remove inflamed and infected tissue from the area, fill, and seal the tooth’s root end.
Once finished, the doctor closes the site with a few stitches over the opening to hold it closed as it heals. You may need to return to have these removed in a few days.
Your procedure ends after the stitches go into place, and you can go home or back to work. Now, your recovery process begins.
How Long Does It Take to Recover from an Apicoectomy?
Surprisingly, many people who need apicoectomies report that the process had a faster, less painful healing than the root canal treatments they initially had. After just a couple of weeks, you should have recovered entirely from any lingering pressure or pain from the procedure. To make the process easier, you should know the various stages that you will go through during the recovery process.
The Day of the Procedure and the Next 24 Hours
Since this type of surgery only uses local anesthesia, you can drive yourself home after the procedure. However, to allow your body to begin the healing process, try to give yourself plenty of time over the next 24 hours to rest and relax.
In the time after the apicoectomy, your mouth will continue to feel numb until the local anesthesia wears off. This may require several hours after the procedure. Until your mouth no longer feels numb, avoid eating or drinking. Trying to chew with your mouth feeling numb, raises the chances that you will unknowingly bite your tongue or the inside of your cheek. These bites can be painful and even become infected.
When you do have sensation restored to your mouth, be very gentle when eating, brushing and flossing on the side of your mouth the endodontist operated on.
Swelling, bruising, and pain at the operation site are common later on the day of the surgery and over the next 24 hours. To control swelling, apply a cold compress to the outside of your mouth. Most people notice that pain and inflammation increase in the first 24 hours and during the day after surgery.
Control pain by keeping it at a minimum. To do this, use the clock instead of your pain levels to schedule your medicine. Take two 200 mg tablets of ibuprofen every four hours or six times a day. Never take more than 3200 mg of ibuprofen in a day. Ibuprofen acts as both a pain reducer and an anti-inflammatory medicine, which will lower your pain and swelling.
If ibuprofen doesn’t keep your pain at a manageable level, add to your regime two 500 mg tablets of acetaminophen every eight hours, taking no more than 3000 mg in a day. Call your endodontist if you still have unbearable pain even when taking these medicines by the clock or if you cannot take either of these pain relievers for medical reasons.
To avoid ripping the stitches or preventing blood clot formation, do not brush the site, rinse your mouth too hard, bite down on hard foods on that side, or pull on your lips.
The Week Following the Surgery
Your endodontist will tell you when to return in the week after surgery to have your stitches removed. At this time, the doctor will ensure your incision has healed as expected.
Two Weeks After an Apicoectomy
After two weeks, your incision will have healed, and the bone around your tooth will regrow. By this time, you should feel back to normal and be able to eat and drink your favorite foods.
When to Call Your Endodontist After an Apicoectomy
As you heal, any pain or discomfort that you feel immediately after the procedure will slowly subside over the days after the surgery. However, call your endodontist if you experience new pain, severe pain, new numbness, or fever after your procedure. When you have a doubt about any unusual symptoms, call the endodontist to get expert advice. Asking questions about your healing process can help you identify if you develop any rare complications in their earliest stages.
See the Top Endodontists in the Tri-Parish Area at Southern Endodontic Specialists
You should know that the endodontist performing your apicoectomy is a trusted expert in their field. At Southern Endodontic Specialists, you’ll get the top doctors in the Tri-Parish area, whether you visit our Houma or Thibodaux location. Contact us today if you need an apicoectomy or other endodontic treatment. You’ll get quality care close to home.