Like most health-enhancing procedures, the technologies and techniques used to provide root canals have been steadily advancing, especially over the past few decades. Today’s root canal procedure is considerably easier on patients than it was in the 1980s, or even the 1990s.
Something that may surprise you, however, is that root canals have been around for well over a century. Here’s a brief list of historical milestones related to root canal procedures, to foster appreciation for how they have developed.
Important Dates In Root Canal History
- 1728 – Pierre Fauchard, a French physician regarded as the father of modern dentistry, authors the book “Le chirurgien dentiste,” which describes the existence of dental pulp.
- 1838 – American Edwin Maynard creates the first root canal instrument, which he fashions from a watch spring.
- 1847 – Gutta-percha is introduced as a material for filling dental canals.
- 1890s – Crowns are becoming increasingly popular as a dental restoration. Many require canal posts, which increases interest in endodontic treatments such as root canals.
- 1900 – The emerging imaging technology of X-rays is identified as an important tool for diagnosing tooth root problems.
- 1943 – The American Association of Endodontics is established to facilitate professional practice in this specialty.
- 1950s – After a half-century of controversy, research establishes that natural teeth needing root canals do not cause systemic health problems, leading to a renewed interest in endodontics.
- 1990s to the present – Endodontic root canal treatments receive an upgrade due to improved imaging techniques, the advent of rotary nickel-titanium files to clean canals, and use of new irrigating solutions.
“Root canals have never been a static procedure, with only ‘one right way’ to preserve a challenged natural tooth,” says Dr. Susan L. Wood of the Phoenix Endodontic Group. “Endodontists in all eras have striven to improve the experience for patients and create successful outcomes.”