Endodontics became a specialty in the early 1960s, but dentists have been performing root canal procedures on patients since the 1800s. Thankfully, the world of root canals has come a long way since the turn of the 19th century.
Implementing a root canal has gotten much easier, and the overall outcome of the procedure itself has improved since the introduction of nickel-titanium files. These files were first introduced in the late 1980s and are made of a unique alloy that is extremely flexible, which helps to preserve the original anatomy of the root canal. This, in turn, results in better efficiency, predictability, and improved clinical results of endodontic treatment, especially in significantly curved canals.
Digital radiography is another handy tool that we use as endodontists. Originally introduced in the 1990s, it has certainly revolutionized the field of endodontics, as well as the entire dental community, by allowing the dentist to manipulate an image and provide a much higher overall diagnostic quality. Thankfully, it does this with much less radiation than was needed to capture a standard radiographic dental film in the past.
In addition to digital radiography, the operating microscope is relatively new in the endodontic world. Magnification and fiber optic illumination are helpful in aiding the endodontist by allowing him or her to see very small details inside the teeth that that need work. Also, a tiny video camera on the operating microscope can record images of a patient’s tooth to further document the doctor’s findings.
Finally, three-dimensional radiographs (cone-beam commuted tomography) allows endodontists to help diagnose potential issues more accurately and provide treatment with unprecedented confidence. Unlike a traditional spiral CT scanner, this 3D system provides precise, crystal-clear digital images while minimizing the patient’s exposure to radiation. This system allows for unmatched visualization of anatomical detail, which aids in diagnosis, treatment planning, and the actual root canal treatment. Your doctors can use this innovative technology to quickly and easily share 3D images of the area of concern with your referring doctor, giving them an opportunity to collaborate on your care, improve your experience, and deliver a positive treatment outcome.
Although there are many other advancements in endodontics on the horizon (stem-cell regeneration of the root canal system, as well as reconstructing the teeth themselves), the current ones allow for much better diagnosis, treatment planning, and pain-free root canals than ever before.