The field of endodontics has made great strides forward in the last couple decades in regards to technology. As I noted in my last blog post, it’s an exciting time to be in this field as we learn how to perform root canal procedures and surgeries more efficiently and effectively while reducing the pain and discomfort for our patients.

Harvard 4The microscope has revolutionized the field of endodontics to the point where all endodontic residents are now required to learn how to perform procedures under the microscope before they graduate and begin practicing. All endodontists who are opening or joining practices now will use the microscope, which I think is an excellent step in the right direction when it comes to keeping our specialty moving forward. Our office has been using the microscope since we began practicing because we saw the incredible advantages it offers during treatment. We are now able to see canals that would have been difficult or impossible to locate without it. Canals are covered with layers of dentin that need to be uncovered. With the microscope, we are able to be very precise when removing layers of dentin, which results in a less invasive procedure and preservation of more of the tooth structure.

The microscope also helps us to identify very small fractures in teeth that would otherwise be missed. If a tooth is fractured into the root, it is not savable. If a root fracture is not identified and that tooth is operated on, it will become re-infected at some point and all the work that was done will be wasted. With the microscope, we can often make sure we are not performing unnecessary work on a tooth that will just need to be removed because of a fracture. This saves the patient, time, money and, more importantly, future procedures.

New technology is not limited to the microscope, though that is probably the most important advancement. We are also now able to use 3D CT scans to look at the tooth before we operate on it. We use this to identify fractures or roots and also see if the apices are located near nerves or sinuses that we will need to be aware of when we operate. The more information we can have on a tooth’s structure, the more precise we can be when we perform the root canal and the less chance we have of complications.

The instruments we use during treatment are also continually improving. The metallurgy of the files we use is constantly improving to allow us to preserve more tooth structure while more accurately following the curves of the canals. The materials we use to seal the canal are also improving, becoming more biocompatible with the composition of the natural tooth. This all helps us to clean and seal the tooth more thoroughly, which prevents re-infection.

As I have stated before, it’s an incredibly exciting time to be involved in this field—especially when you look at what is coming in the future. Materials and instruments will continue to improve and there is even the possibility that we will be able to re-grow nerve tissues that have been damaged or perhaps even grow an entirely new tooth. This would completely revolutionize the field and the way we are able to help patients.

All of us at Advanced Endodontics are dedicated to learning new technology that will help our patients. With all the new advancements currently in practice, we as a specialty have been able to improve the success rate of apicoectomies from around 50% to over 90%. What was once a hit or miss procedure is now incredibly successful. We’re excited to continue improving our knowledge and utilizing new technology that will help those who are under our care.