How Apexification Can Save Your Teeth

How Apexification Can Save Your Teeth

It’s natural to only think about the part of your teeth you see when you brush, floss, or smile. But below your gumline, the roots of your teeth play an important role in your dental health, keeping each tooth in place and allowing you to sense temperature and more when you eat. 

Even after your permanent teeth grow in, the roots continue forming for years. If you need a root canal before the root is finished forming, you might need a procedure called apexification to save your tooth. 

At his private practice in Hickory and Statesville, North Carolina, endodontist Robert Scott Nance, DDS, specializes in performing tooth-saving procedures, like apexification. Here’s what you need to know about this special dental procedure. 

Understanding apexification

To help you understand this procedure, we need to review the parts of your teeth. The part of your tooth you see above the gumline is called the crown. It’s made up of hard enamel that protects the softer dentin and pulp within. 

Below your gumline, the dentin and pulp continue to help create part of your tooth’s roots. The roots of your teeth help hold your tooth in place and have canals, called root canals, where nerves and blood vessels enter to serve each tooth. 

Each root has an apex at the very tip or end of the root. After your permanent teeth erupt through your gums, it takes about three years for this opening to close.   

Apexification is an endodontic procedure that creates a calcified barrier to form over an open apex so we can perform a traditional root canal and tooth restoration. You might need this if your tooth is injured, infected, or gets a cavity. 

How apexification saves your teeth

When you have an open apex, it’s easier for bacteria to enter your tooth and create infection or decay in the pulp of your tooth. Root canals are a safe and effective treatment in which Dr. Nance removes the affected pulp, cleans the root canal, and seals the tooth to restore your dental health.

But in patients with an open apex, root canals aren’t possible. To save your tooth, Dr. Nance performs apexification. The calcified barrier the procedure produces allows him to safely complete a root canal and preserve your tooth.   

What to expect from apexification

If apexification is right for you, you can expect to visit Dr. Nance several times to complete the procedure. Dr. Nance starts by administering a local anesthetic to keep you comfortable. 

Once you’re numb, Dr. Nance drills a hole and cleans out the affected tooth. He then applies a chemical solution, most commonly calcium hydroxide or trioxide aggregate, to seal the end of the root canal (apex). 

As the solution dries, it hardens to form a barrier that helps protect your tooth. You visit Dr. Nance every few weeks for about six months to ensure the apex seals completely and that your tooth is functioning properly. 

Once the seal is complete, Dr. Nance can then give you the root canal you need to preserve your natural tooth. He finishes the process by restoring the crown of your tooth with a dental filling or prosthetic crown. 

Are you ready to learn more about apexification and whether it’s right for you? Schedule an appointment with Dr. Nance in Hickory or Statesville, North Carolina.

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