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What Is Apexification?

You might think that as soon as an adult tooth completely erupts from the gums, the tooth is fully formed. After all, the entirety of the visible tooth seems complete and ready for a lifetime of use. But, in actuality, there’s more going on beneath the surface. 

Beneath the gum line, the tooth root is still forming. This root, which makes up about two-thirds of the tooth, holds it in place. But it takes time for your tooth to build that stable foundation. In fact, the tooth root can take as long as three years to fully form after the tooth breaks through the gums. 

If you need a root canal when your tooth root hasn’t fully developed, part of the process will include apexification, a procedure to seal the tooth root.  At his offices in Statesville and Hickory, North Carolina, Robert Scott Nance, D.D.S., M.S., P.A., applies his endodontic specialty to ensure adolescents and young adults have the whole, healthy, strong tooth they need. 

Why some people need apexification

While the tooth root isn’t fully formed, it creates a passageway through which bacteria can enter the tooth. This can lead to significant damage and decay. Fortunately, with a root canal, Dr. Nance can remove the damaged pulp — the tooth’s interior — and seal the tooth, so it can continue to function pain-free for you through the years.

But if the tooth root hasn’t formed completely, a root canal isn’t possible yet. If Dr. Nance tried to fill the tooth, there would be no bottom to contain it. It would be a little like pouring water into a cup with a hole in it.

So that you can get the root canal you need to preserve your tooth, Dr. Nance performs apexification. During this procedure, he uses a chemical solution to seal off the end of your root canal. He first drills into your tooth and removes the damaged pulp, then he completes the apexification on your tooth root. As the chemical solution he applies to the end of your root canal dries, it creates a calcific barrier. 

What to expect after apexification

After your procedure, Dr. Nance talks with you so that you know how to care for the tooth in the coming weeks. Over the next six months, you’ll visit his office every few weeks or so to give Dr. Nance the opportunity to confirm that your tooth root is sealing the way it should and that you can still feel temperature and pressure with the tooth. 

Once your tooth is sealed, Dr. Nance performs your root canal and seals the tooth with a filling or protects it with a crown. With proper care, that tooth should serve you the rest of your life, problem-free.

To learn more about apexification, whether you’re an adolescent or young adult who needs the procedure or a parent wondering what to expect for your child, don’t hesitate to call Dr. Nance’s office.

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