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Apicoectomy vs. Root Canal

February 15, 2024
Apicoectomy vs. Root Canal

Root canals and apicoectomies are common endodontic procedures that restore infected, decayed, or severely damaged teeth to good health, thereby preserving the natural tooth and its roots. However, there are significant differences between the two procedures. Here’s everything to know about an apicoectomy vs. root canals.

Surgical vs. Nonsurgical Endodontic Treatment

The most notable difference between an apicoectomy and a root canal is that an apicoectomy is a surgical procedure, while a root canal is a non-surgical procedure. However, an apicoectomy (also called apical surgery or root end surgery) is not a major surgery. It is a minimally invasive surgery performed in your endodontist’s practice under local anesthetic. Patients who experience dental anxiety or dental phobias may request sedation for relaxation during their procedure.


Root Canal and Apicoectomy: What They Treat

A second significant difference between an apical surgery and a root canal lies in what each procedure treats.  A root canal treats infection in the pulp of the tooth. The pulp is accessed via a tiny hole drilled in the crown of the tooth.   A root canal may also be necessary to treat a tooth that has significant decay, that is too extensive to treat with a dental filling. Root canals are also frequently performed on teeth that have sustained acute trauma (fall, direct impact, sports injury, accident, etc.)


During a root canal, the pulp of the tooth is removed. Your endodontist will also reshape the canals inside the tooth to prevent future infection. The interior of the tooth will be disinfected and cleansed. Then they will fill the tooth with a biocompatible material called gutta-percha. The tooth will then be protected with a dental crown.


An apicoectomy is only performed to treat an infection or problem at the very tip of the tooth’s root (apex). During an apicoectomy, your endodontist will access the apex through a small incision made in the gum. The infected tip of the tooth and any infected or inflamed tissue will be removed. Then, the tip of the root will be fixed with a tiny filling to prevent future infection.  The incision will then be sutured.


Apical Surgery and Root Canal: When They Are Necessary

The goal of all endodontic procedures is to preserve natural teeth. Natural teeth and their roots play a vital role in your oral health, overall health, and even physical appearance. The roots connect the jaw to the teeth. If natural teeth are lost, the jawbone will begin to recede. Moreover, once you’ve lost one tooth, you’re at increased risk of losing additional teeth. 


In most cases, a root canal is the first line of defense employed by endodontists to treat an infected, damaged, or severely decayed tooth. Apicoectomies are most often only necessary when a root canal fails to treat the infection or alleviate the pain caused by the infection.  Apicoectomies may also be necessary to treat roots that have holes, bone loss, or fractured teeth, or to remove calcium deposits within the root canal.


Schedule Endodontic Surgery or Root Canal Therapy in Las Vegas

Las Vegas Endodontics is a top-reviewed endodontic practice providing comprehensive endodontic treatment for damaged, infected, and traumatically injured teeth.  Las Vegas Endodontics boasts four experienced, proven leaders in the field of endodontics, to treat patients expediently. Call 702-876-5800 or send us a message to schedule endodontic treatment in Las Vegas.


Frequently Asked Questions

What can I eat after a root canal?

A soft food diet is not required but is preferred by most patients following a root canal. It is normal to experience a bit of tenderness and swelling, so softer foods often work best for the first 24-48 hours.


How long is recovery from an apicoectomy?

You may experience tenderness, mild pain at the incision site, or swelling for the first few days after your endodontic surgery. Within a week you will return to the endodontist for a follow-up appointment. Most patients return to normal activities within 36-48  hours after surgery.

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