Over these past few years, I have made a commitment to try to shine a spotlight on raising awareness of the importance of dental health in our community. Whether from my blog posts, my dental video parodies (“Mama gotta root canal” and “Bringing flossing back”) or simply through direct communication with people I meet, I’ve tried to encourage people to take ownership of their own lives in all areas.
As a PHYSICAL FITNESS buff, I’ve always made exercise a number one priority in my life and encourage YOU to do the same. Fitness helps you feel good, have a better mindset and encourages HAPPINESS! Whatever your level of fitness, you can always find SIMPLE WAYS TO GET BETTER AND IMPROVE.
As an ENDODONTIST, it is imperative for me to stress the importance of TAKING CARE OF YOUR TEETH on a day to day basis. We all know that brushing and flossing your teeth a couple times a day is easy and can prevent the development of tooth decay, periodontal disease and tooth loss. We also know the COST TO FIX OR REPLACE a tooth can be super EXPENSIVE not to mention time consuming! Simple daily preventive maintenance can prevent costly procedures in the future and enhance your overall systemic health. So, if I’m preaching to the choir...great! But if you are not already meticulously tending to your PEARLY WHITES on a structured daily schedule, then there is no better time to start than right now...makes me wanna go brush just writing this!
That being said, we also all know that life happens. WE ARE NOT PERFECT. We all have a past. Maybe you weren’t taught the importance of dental care as a child...or were taught but didn’t listen! Or, maybe you do take decent care of your teeth but STILL get a cavity or two once in a while. It’s okay. If it’s happened it’s happened. Maybe it’s a tooth that doesn’t have decay, but you might have had a filling or a crown placed on it years ago and the pulp has now degenerated causing the need for a root canal...again, it’s okay!
Root canal treatments are NOT what they used to be. I have been practicing endodontics now for 19 years and have seen several major improvements over that time that have allowed us to treat root canals more predictably and efficiently. Several innovations have been developed over the last 10 to 20 years that have made the practice of endodontics BETTER...more predictable, more efficient, and less painful! The following list describes a few of these newer technologies:
DENTAL OPERATING MICROSCOPE: Offers enhanced ability to see inside a tooth in order to help us remove decay, locate and clean the canals and inspect for cracks in teeth.
CONE BEAM COMPUTED TOMOGRAPHY (CBCT): Digital imaging that allows 3 dimensional visualization of the dental and skeletal anatomy without distortion. This technology gives us the ability to see how many canals are in a tooth, how long the roots are before we start, and gives a better view of small infections that may be present around the tip of a root.
INTRAOSSEOUS INJECTIONS made by STABIDENT: Allows us to anesthetize more successfully than we could before (especially those lower molars!!!) to help provide a painless experience.
APEX LOCATOR: Provides electronic root length measurement without having to take a radiograph of an instrument inside the tooth like the old days!
HEAT TREATED ROTARY INSTRUMENTS/FILES: Amazingly flexible endodontic files that help us remove tissue and bacteria from inside root canal systems while maintaining the original shape of the inside of the tooth.
AND NOW, THE MOST RECENT ADDITION TO OUR ARMAMENTARIUM…
The GENTLEWAVE system is a device designed about 5 years ago to help ENDODONTISTS more efficiently and effectively clean the inside of a root canal system. It’s an optimized process to distribute irrigating solutions inside a tooth to the depths of the canal systems and allows the tiny “nooks and crannies” to be cleaned more predictably.
We’ve always known that root canal systems are extremely complex, especially the molars and pre-molars. Every root of every tooth has at least one “canal” or “channel” inside the root. Some roots have multiple canals with intricate communications of tissue between them. The canals contain very small blood vessels and nerve tissue (DENTAL PULP) that was needed during childhood to allow the teeth to develop. If the PULP tissue becomes diseased and contaminated, pain and infection ensues which then requires the need for root canal treatment or extraction.
Historically, a ROOT CANAL TREATMENT consisted of cleaning out the decay in a tooth, then locating the pulp. After the canals were located, many different sizes of files were used to ENLARGE the canal openings so that we could TRY to get the irrigating solutions to reach into the depths of the tooth. Usually, this was very effective and most (roughly 95%) of the teeth would heal and feel better. However, some teeth would have multiple canal systems that couldn’t be located with files or have curvatures that prevented complete cleaning. Oftentimes, the root canal might be OVER-ENLARGED which could lead to root fractures. Also, in our attempt to get our files to reach way down to the end of the roots, we could inadvertently cause extrusion of bacteria or irrigating solutions beyond the root tip into the surrounding ligament and bone which could likely cause more post-operative pain.
The GENTLEWAVE PROCEDURE was created in an attempt to resolve some of these issues.
LESS CANAL FILING...LESS CHANCE OF ROOT FRACTURE
MORE IRRIGATING SOLUTIONS INTO THE CANALS...MORE CLEAN ROOTS
LESS POST-OPERATIVE PAIN...A NEGATIVE PRESSURE CLOSED SYSTEM LESSENS THE CHANCE OF DEBRIS EXTRUSION AT THE ROOT TIP
The GENTLEWAVE procedure utilizes degassed fluids that are constantly refreshed and circulated through the canal system. A patented “SOUNDBAR” causes cavitation of the solutions which creates a vortical flow of rinses that induce maximum tissue debridement and dissolution. After the canals are clean we use root canal sealer and filling materials to fill the spaces. I have seen first hand many cases where the sealer has filled in lateral canals, isthmuses and “nooks and crannies” that we didn’t see before. Now, I am sure that some teeth that have a lot of infection at the ends of the roots may still require an additional treatment that may not resolve with this procedure, but I believe the chances are less likely long term.
Overall, after having used the system for about 3 months now, I am feeling more comfortable with the new protocol and more confident in the GENTLEWAVEs ability to CLEAN CANALS BETTER!!! So, let this be an inspiration for us all to CONTINUE TO ADVANCE ourselves in ALL AREAS of our lives!
CLEAN YOUR TEETH...CLEAN YOUR LIFE!!!
...AND DON’T FORGET TO BRUSH AND FLOSS!!!