Unlike traditional root canal treatment, an apicoectomy is a surgical approach through the gum. After the area is thoroughly numbed with local anesthesia, a small incision is made through the gum tissues at the level of the affected root, permitting direct access to the infected peri-apical tissues (“peri” – around; “apex” – root end). This allows removal of any inflamed or infected tissue near or around the tip of the root — along with a few millimeters of the root tip itself. A very small filling is then placed in the end of the root canal to seal the canal and prevent further infection. Afterward, a few sutures (stitches) are placed to assure that the gum tissues are closed and will heal properly. Where necessary, bone grafting or other techniques are used to help the bone to grow and fill back in, particularly if infection has left a significant void. Over time, the absence of infection will allow the area to heal and return to normal function.