Infected teeth are a massive hurdle to tackle, as infections and damage throughout the root canal system are oftentimes complicated to disinfect and treat. Finding these issues often leads to tooth extractions, which often results in more costly restorative treatments. For endodontists focused on preserving the natural tooth, alternative treatments need to be sought out to avoid tooth extractions, and one of the best parts of the endodontic field is the ability to save the tooth through more conservative methods. This process of finding alternative treatments is an ever-long struggle, but due to today’s technology, newer methods have begun revolutionizing the diagnosis and treatment process.
In today’s endodontics, there are three areas of technology that affect treatment for root canals and tooth damage. Microscopes, cone beam computerized technology and irrigation delivery systems are the trifecta of devices used in endodontics to avoid tooth extractions and change the way treatment is delivered. In this article, we’ll be looking into the advancements and see how they have changed the endodontic practice.
The Microscope and the Beginnings of Endodontic Microsurgery
Microscopes have been used for ages in scientific studies, but the thought of introducing this technology into endodontics wasn’t conceived until the mid-1970s. The microscope could allow dentists to directly see the anatomical tooth and gain more visual insight into the tooth’s structure and state of disease. Alongside the use of radiographs, microscopes finally allowed dentists to successfully prepare the cavity area and find many of the hidden canals that wouldn’t normally be seen with previous methods. Microscopes allow for endodontists to see hairline fractures, calcified canals, and infected MB2 canals. The use of microscopes was truly transformed by Dr. Gary Carr, who is now credited as the father of microscopic endodontics due to his advancements in surgical equipment and research for endodontic practices.
Today, the use of microscopes is now a completely necessary component in endodontic procedures; it grants endodontists the ability to look into the canals and diagnose problems that couldn’t normally be seen through x-rays and radiographs. Through the use of this technology, it allowed for advancements in surgical methods such as microsurgery. Microsurgeries now use microscopes to help create smaller openings for the removal of inflamed and infected tissues and can help resolve failed root canal procedures. It’s now common for microscopes to be used in both surgical and nonsurgical procedures, and it won’t be going anywhere for a while.
Advancing Diagnosis With Cone Bean Computerized Technology
CBCT technology is less commonly known among patients, but this piece of technology is considered a highly important part of standard care. Today, many endodontists require CBCT technology in their practices because of its versatile uses. CBCT technology is applicable in areas of diagnosis, implant treatment, surgical treatment plans, and other areas of endodontic treatments. CBCT technology has helped replace the need for less conservative treatments such as tooth extractions and has given endodontists the ability to explore the tooth in areas where infections cannot be seen through normal means. CBCT technology also allows dentists to explore the tooth’s cavities hands-free, giving a 3D look inside the tooth that can help save teeth from unnecessary treatments.
By combining CBCT technology with microscopes, many dentists can now diagnose conditions more effectively and plan treatments more conservatively. However, this type of technology is often considered to be an expensive venture for new and upcoming practices, and to use CBCT technology means understanding how to interpret and read findings. With CBCT technology, there is also a legal responsibility for planning treatments, and any data captured from using this device means that it needs to be properly scanned, documented, and read before moving forward. Although the hurdles with this technology are rough to overcome, hopefully, they will become more available to new practices in the endodontic field.
The Upcoming Trend of Irrigation/Fluid Delivery Systems
In the face of unusual tooth formations, such as curved canals, the curvatures and uniqueness of tooth formations can often prevent endodontists from performing easy disinfection techniques. Irrigation is a primary set of methods used to disinfect and clean the inner working of the tooth, and when these oddities do show up, more complex methods are needed to remove harmful outcomes. As a cornerstone of successful endodontic therapy, conventional methods are often used as a primary basis, using needles and cannulas to apply chemical agents to the affected areas, but in recent years, there has been a desire for more falt-proof measures, as conventional irrigation methods often don’t include how to treat lateral canals and oddly shaped canal roots.
Updates to the irrigation system have helped either combine or completely remove the needle and cannula methods with the introduction of fluid delivery systems. These systems help provide more manual control over the delivery of chemical agents such as NaCOL, and help reduce the risk of hypochlorite accidents within the affected area. These fluid delivery systems help treat hard-to-reach canals and can help dentists find and treat other areas of infection and decay previously unnoticed during the diagnosis process. While traditional irrigation methods are still required in many cases, the advancements in irrigation systems through more automated means can help patients experience quicker, more pain-free treatments that provide successful results.
The Trifecta of Endodontics: How They All Come Together
These pieces of technology help bring more insight into the endodontic field; the introduction of the microscope, CBCT technology, and irrigation systems all create a cohesive way for endodontics to approach tooth challenges that were struggles twenty years earlier. Microscopes help dentists look inside the tooth with a more hands-on approach for treating affected teeth. CBCT technology can create multi-dimensional images and data to search for signs of infection and decay inside the tooth’s roots. As for irrigation systems, more manual functions have been able to help dentists during treatment find and treat areas of infection with better control and accuracy. For new endodontic practices, investing in these pieces of technology can help many patients receive more comprehensive care and are game-changers today that present so many opportunities for better treatment.