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Apicoectomy Stitches Aftercare

After your apicoectomy procedure, you will have stitches on your gums in order to facilitate closing the surgical access opening.


Apicoectomy - Step 2
Apicoectomy

The only way to perform this surgical procedure is by opening the gums, drilling through the bone, and removing the tip of the infected root canal treated tooth. Of course it would be common courtesy for your dentist to stitch your gums back up afterwards.


Our purpose here today is to give you all of the aftercare instructions for apicoectomy sutures. How to take care of them, what to expect, and potential complications. Good post-operative care can help expedite your recovery and healing.


Table of contents:


Post-Op Instructions

There are things which you should and shouldn't do after getting stitches for the apicoectomy. The sutures are located on the gums below your lip or cheek near the apex of the root of the infected root canal tooth.


Dos:

  • Take and finish your antibiotics.

  • Begin taking pain medication before the numbness wears off.

  • Use a cold compress for 20 mins on and 20 mins off alternating on day of.

  • Leave the sutures alone as much as possible.

  • Soft food diet for next 2-3 days.


Don'ts:

  • Do not touch or play with the stitches.

  • Do not put anything on the stitches (orajel or other topical home remedies).

  • Do not remove the stitches on your own.


If you do more of the dos and less of the don'ts, you will heal and recover faster. However, if you do the opposite, you shouldn't be surprised if you get delayed healing.


When the stitches come out

Dissolvable and non-dissolvable stitches may be used for an apicoectomy. Which one you'll get will depend on your dentist's preference.


When do sutures come out:

  • The absorbable ones should fall out on their own within 10-14 days.

  • The non-absorbable ones will need to be removed by your dentist in 1-2 weeks.


The only way to know if they can dissolve or not is by asking your dentist. Although they should've told you what to do with them before you left the appointment.


However, there are some common colors that are used for each type of suture.

  • The dissolving sutures will most likely be violet, yellow, gold, or white in color.

  • The non-dissolving sutures may be black or white.



dissolvable vs non-dissolvable stitches colors
dissolvable vs non-dissolvable stitches colors

What to expect

The severity of the infection does influence the post-op recovery process. It's not unusual to experience some bleeding, mild pain, and tenderness for the tooth that received an apicoectomy.


After all, your dentist literally made an incision into your gums, drilled through the jaw bone, and cut off a piece of the root tip. You just had a surgical procedure done in your mouth so some discomfort is to be expected.


What's normal:

  • Mild toothache or discomfort.

  • Tooth may feel sore or tender.

  • Mild swelling may be present.

  • Bleeding from surgical site.


What's abnormal:

  • Worsening or increasing tooth pain.

  • Facial swelling increasing in size.

  • Gum boil formation.


What patients say

Patients are always doubtful when their dentist tells them that it won't be so bad... That is why you should read some of these comments online about people who went through the procedure.


Painless apicoectomy comments
Painless apicoectomy comments

Some people were saying that the apicoectomy was completely painless while some were saying that it was horrendous.


Painful apicoectomy comments
Painful apicoectomy comments

Once again, the explanation for the varying responses on both extremes is that your post-op really depends on how infected that tooth was. Typically if you go into the procedure with the tooth already inflamed and swollen, you'll most likely have a worse recovery.


However, if you began the procedure while the tooth wasn't particularly inflamed, the chances are that you will have a much smoother healing. That is the rule of thumb for other dental procedures as well such as root canals, tooth extractions, and wisdom teeth removal.


Complications

As with all surgical procedures, the possibility of a complication may arise after you finish the treatment. You'll often notice them appear a few days or weeks afterwards.


Potential apicoectomy complications:

  • Stitches coming out early. If the stitches come out earlier than anticipated, it may cause a delay in your healing process.

  • Worsening pain. Some discomfort is to be expected afterwards but it shouldn't be worse than before you had the procedure done.

  • Increasing swelling. Mild swelling is expected but it shouldn't be the size of a golf ball on your face. That is an indication that something may have went awry.

  • Gum boil. If you notice a pimple develop on your gums after your treatment, that is a tell-tale sign that the infection returned. In other words, the apicoectomy was unsuccessful.

  • Tooth fracture. Fracturing your tooth is a potential possibility for all oral conditions.


If you encounter any of the above signs, you should contact your dentist immediately to have them treated. They will not go away with at home treatments nor will they get better on their own. You will need professional intervention.


Takeaway

You will have stitches after your apicoectomy because the gums have to be reflected in order to access the tooth root. These sutures may or may not be dissolvable, if it is the former they will fall out on their own but if they're the latter, they will need to be removed.


Please do your best to follow the list of dos and don'ts by our dentists in Long Island City for the aftercare so that you can maximize your recovery. Non-compliance will increase the risk of complications and infections.

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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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