One of the key parts of a successful root canal treatment is irrigation. The irrigation process allows endodontists to eliminate bacteria and clean parts of the root system that their other instruments can’t reach. This ensures that the root canal is a success and that your tooth is on the path to recovery.
An endodontist’s goal is to remove the infection in the center of a tooth. This center area is made up of pulp, dentin, and other tissues. During a root canal, endodontists will extract these tissues and clean the channels they occupied in order to remove bacteria. They will utilize irrigation to help with aspects of the procedure such as:
- Getting sterilizing fluid to areas of the tooth’s root that cannot be reached by instruments
- Continuously flush out the root system and keep infected pulp, dentin, and other tissues from getting stuck, potentially leading to reinfection
- Cooling both the endodontist’s file and the tooth itself to keep your procedure comfortable
What Fluids Does Irrigation Use?
Most endodontists use sodium hypochlorite for their irrigation procedures. It is the only solution that is capable of dissolving organic matter inside the canals. It helps remove infected tissue that manual tools have difficulty with. Due to its strength in higher concentrations, sodium hypochlorite is used in small amounts.
The other widely used fluid in endodontic irrigation is ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, or EDTA. EDTA is used to eliminate what is called the “smear layer.” The smear layer is the name for the film that’s left behind after a round of irrigation, composed of dentin, tissue debris, and irrigant liquid. EDTA is applied to bond with the smear layer, which can then be flushed out. This leaves the canals open for another round of irrigation, if needed.
Other fluids used in endodontic irrigation are sterile water and saline. These are used to clean out the tooth between alternating applications of sodium hypochlorite and EDTA. Flushing out the tooth with water ensures that both of the other liquids do their job properly.
What Tools Are Used in Irrigation?
An endodontist may use the classic method of a syringe and needle to irrigate your tooth during a root canal. They will fill several with each of the fluids they plan on using. Then they will apply them as needed during the procedure.
There are also modern pieces of equipment used in endodontic irrigation. Ultrasonic devices inject irrigants into the canals through a vibrating tip. These devices serve two purposes. First, the tip helps push irrigants into hard to reach areas of the canals. Second, the vibrations can help dislodge infected pulp. Both of these ensure your root system is cleaned fully.
Irrigation is one of the most important parts of root canal treatment. It helps dissolve infected tissue and has an antimicrobial effect that ensures the success of the procedure. For more information about endodontic irrigation, or root canals in general, contact our experienced endodontist, Dr. Scott A. Norton, today.
Scott A. Norton, DMD of Louisville
Phone: (502) 899-5559
4010 Dupont Circle, Suite #276
Louisville, KY 40207