Chronic Apical Periodontitis
Chronic apical periodontitis is generally a non-painful condition in which the apical portion (i.e. the part around the tip) of a tooth’s root is chronically inflamed. The term chronic means the condition has been present for a significant length of time (at least several weeks, and sometimes much longer). There may be drainage through the gums from around the tooth’s root. Drainage into a major nerve canal can lead to numbness, which is generally temporary and resolves following successful treatment of the condition.
To clarify use of the term, “apical” in the diagnosis, it is becoming more commonplace to hear the term “periradicular” instead of “apical” or “periapical”. This is because the word “apical” implies that the problem originated at the tooth’s root tip; “periapical” implies that it began somewhere around the root tip. The term periradicular accurately reflects that the problem may have arisen along the root.
In fact, the problem frequently originates along the root somewhere (periradicular). Thus, the diagnosis is also beginning to be reported using these other descriptive terms.