Fortunately, Endodontics – the dental specialty which concerns the study and treatment of dental pulp – is an area of dentistry that has seen tremendous growth over the last 20 years. Unfortunately, however, this particular specialty is often still overlooked or dismissed. This can largely be attributed to a lack of understanding, which breeds confusion and fear.
Since we are not supporters of unnecessary fear (spiders and clowns are separate issues entirely), and since we are taking the month of March to focus on Endodontics, we have created “The 7 Steps of Endodontics” to help set your mind at ease! These simple, succinct, steps will help ensure that doctors and patients have successful procedural outcomes during each and every visit. With knowledge increased, and fear decreased, satisfaction reigns supreme!
STEP 1: DIAGNOSIS
The most important aspect of performing an endodontic procedure is to first correctly diagnose the tooth. There are several tools to help you understand just what’s going on with the patient’s tooth: radiographs, percussion tests, pulp testers, and endo sprays.
Recommended Product: Endo Refrigerant Spray
STEP 2: ACCESS
The next step is access, or creating an opening to the tooth’s pulp chamber. This is achieved via the use of endodontic burs, hand or rotary files, and chelating agent.
STEP 3: EXTIRPATION
Next is extirpation, or removing the pulp and nerve in the tooth. This is most often completed through the use of barbed broaches, but clinicians often use hand files or burs to aid them when they deem it necessary.
STEP 4: DEBRIDEMENT
Step four is debridement, or thorough cleaning of the canal. This step is done through the use of irrigants and chemicals such as EDTA and chelating agents. Hand files may also be used in this step. Many doctors like to flush the canal with a sodium hypochlorite rinse to disinfect and remove any lingering bacteria from the canal. So long as the canal is cleaned completely, no method is “more correct” than another – everything is personal preference!
This may be a good time to take another radiograph and measurement to confirm the length of the canal. You could use a traditional X-ray machine and place a hand file in the canal and mark the length. You could also use an apex locator to confirm working length at this time.
STEP 5: DRYING
The next section of the root canal procedure includes drying, so that you can then move on to obturating and restoring the tooth to its natural appearance. Drying the canal is exactly that: dry the canal with paper points. This is an important step both to ensure that the area can be sealed successfully, and to inhibit bacterial growth. Once the canal is completely dry, it is time to fill it.
Recommended Product: Absorbent Paper Points
STEP 6: OBTURATING
As with many of the other steps, filling or obturating the canal can be achieved with a wide variety of methods. This includes root canal sealer, gutta percha points, heated gutta percha guns or systems, pluggers, and spreaders. Pluggers may require the use of a heating element. Sometimes clinicians prefer using a gutta percha product that has a solid core with gutta percha around it.
STEP 7: RESTORATION
Lastly, it is time to restore the tooth. Depending on the patient and plan, temporary crown and bridge material may need to be placed in the tooth for a short time. This “temporary” may be placed for many reasons: if this is part of a two-visit procedure, if the patient has to return to their general practitioner, or if they need a post.
Posts are used to help anchor a core build-up material and crown if the patient requires a crown. Not every patient requires a crown, so a composite filling over the root canal procedure may be the final step to restoring the tooth.
Recommended Product: Temporary Crown and Bridge Kit
Did this 7-step format help clarify the various important aspects of an Endodontics procedure? Let us know in the comments below! If you’re interested in reading more on this subject, stop by our March (Tooth) Picks blog post, which outlines 8 products at the “root” of root canals.
ABOUT PATTERSON PRIVATE LABEL PRODUCTS
You may have noticed that the recommended products in this article are Patterson’s own Private Label brand. Here’s a little bit more about that product line:
What distinguishes Patterson Private Label products is a strong balance of quality, value, and commitment to customer satisfaction. The high-quality, extensive Private Label product line is available at a surprisingly competitive price point. This offers an obvious advantage to the consumer: better products at a better price. When adding Private Label products, Patterson is meticulous in choosing only the highest quality products for the customer base.