In dentistry and related fields, the apex is the term used to describe the tip or end portion of the root of a tooth. The roots of your teeth stretch under the surface of your gums and are actually long enough to reach into the upper or lower jaw bone area.
Different types of teeth are structured differently, so while certain teeth only have one root, others actually have multiple roots extending from the same tooth and ending in a different apex. These roots are reinforced within the gums by cementium, a white substance that surrounds the root all the way down to the apex to protect it.
What Does The Apex Do?
The apex serves as an entrance point for important nutrients and blood vessels to enter the root system and eventually get to the teeth.
After entering through the apical foramen, located at the end of the apex, the nutrients travel through the system of roots to the inside of the tooth, where they become dental pulp. The dental pulp feeds each tooth to keep it healthy and strong from the inside out. This process is vital to the overall health of the tooth.
When these roots are compromised or dead, or the pulp is damaged, the resulting pain and decay is often resolved by performing a root canal to remove the damage and seal the tooth.
How Does an Endodontist Locate the Apex?
Every tooth root is different, so there is no standard formula that can be used to determine where the apex is located.
Because the apex and apical foramen are placed so deep within the gums and jaw, endodontists and other dental professionals typically use x-rays or a device called an electronic apex locator to estimate where the apex is. This knowledge can help the endodontist to better plan a Houston root canal, as it helps him or her to assess how deep the root is and how much open space exists for a root canal to be performed.