Deep inside the tooth is a soft mass of tissue called the pulp. If the tooth is damaged – either by injury or decay – it may cause the pulp to get infected. If this happens, your dentist may carry out a root canal treatment, but if the infection spreads to the end of the root and into the bone, the dentist may have to perform an apicectomy.

During this treatment, which is done under local anaesthetic, the dentist makes a very small cut in the gum, cleans out any infection and then puts a small filling at the end of the root canal to stop any future infection. Once this is done, the dentist stitches the gum – and, because the cut is made as far away from the tooth as possible, there is little chance of visible scarring.

Apicectomies are relatively rare as they are only carried out when root canal treatment has failed.