The roots of your teeth have small openings at the bottoms buried within your gums and jawbone. Those openings, called apexes, allow important blood cells, tissue, and nerves to travel from your bone and soft tissue into the tooth's root canal – and then back again. Problems with the apexes can cut off this vital supply root and impact the health and potentially the life of the affected tooth.
How can your general or family dentistry office help treat apex problems? There are a few potential treatments depending on the nature of the problem.
Apexogenesis is a procedure used when a still developing tooth starts to show signs of root weakness. If the dentist allowed the tooth to continue erupting with weak roots, that tooth could eventually become loose and fall out.
Apexogenesis involves the dentist applying a calcifying agent to the pulp of the developing tooth. The pulp then transfers the agent into the root canal and the interior of the tooth roots, where the agent will harden and provide a backbone of sorts for the tooth's continued development. The tooth roots and apexes can now develop properly without the risk of collapse or inadvertent closures for the nerve and tissue supply lines.
If a fully developed tooth gets an infection within the pulp material, the pulp can carry the infection down into the apexes of the tooth. A standard root canal procedure used to remove the infection from within the tooth doesn't always reach the last bits of infection stuck in the apexes. These lingering bits can cause the infection to recur even after you have undergone root canal therapy.
The dentist can make sure no infection is left behind with an apicoectomy. The procedure involves snipping off the infected apex tips and then closing the remaining root with a dissolving biocement so that no new infection can pass into or out of the tooth while the dentist heals the infection.
An apexification combines the methods described for the other procedures in the case when a developing tooth gets a deep infection. The dentist will clean out the infected pulp with root canal therapy, wait for the infection to clear up, and then apply a calcifying agent to the new, healthy pulp to carry through the tooth to provide added strength.
The apexification ensures that the tooth doesn't suffer any infection-related damage while also ensuring that the tooth grows stronger in the future. Failure to provide this assistance to the suffering tooth can lead to the loss of the tooth and an expensive dental replacement at a young age.