By: Catherine Yeh for Dental1
Root canals are generally performed by eliminating the deep cavity and tissue inside of an infected tooth (generally a result of cavity, fracture, or injury). These areas are distant and hard to reach within the dental tubular system; however, the process of disinfecting the root canal is extremely important for tooth preservation. The dentist manually cleans the infected area by scratching the interior of the canal and irrigating with a disinfectant. Rinsing solutions are also used but they are not fully effective in washing away the bacteria, which can penetrate deeper into the root. Now, researchers believe the bacteria in root canals can be ablated through the use of laser technology.
|Don’t delay in getting a root canal procedure – you’ll reduce the risk of larger infection. What to ask your dentist when inquiring about the laser root canal procedure:|
What are the advantages of using a laser as disinfectant?
What other options exist for a root canal and what are the advantages and disadvantages?
What is the cost of the laser root canal procedure?
Are there risks involved if the laser procedure does not eliminate all of the bacteria?
The Journal of the American Dental Association published study results in their July, 2007 issue that revealed high-tech dental lasers to be effective in eradicating root canal bacteria. According to the study, “In general, dental lasers provide access to formerly unreachable parts of the tubular network, owing to the fact that they penetrate dental tissues better than rinsing solutions.”
The laser being used is called an erbium, chromium: yttrium-scandium-gallium-garnet laser, or an Er, Cr: YSGG laser. This laser has been used in the past for preparing cavities for restoration. According to Dr. Ulrich Schoop and his team of researchers in the dental school at the University of Vienna, miniaturized and flexible fiber tips are the reason the laser is able to be used in root canal treatment. The Er, Cr: YSGG laser has been shown to have a good cutting effect on root surface and it causes no burning sensations or melting after the laser treatment.
In assessing the effectiveness of the Er, Cr: YSGG laser, the team inoculated 60 extracted human teeth with either E. faecalis or E. coli bacteria. The laser was effective in eliminating both types of bacteria in contaminated root canals – and the even at lower power settings it was effective in removing E. coli. Furthermore, the laser at higher power reduced the E.coli to below detection level. Researchers found the Er, Cr: YSGG laser eliminated other debris and smeared layers from the root canal walls as well.
Dr. Roy Stevens and a team of researchers at Temple University’s Kornberg School of Dentistry examined this same laser with a new tip that emits radiation radically. This team examined the efficiency of the new laser tip on dentin walls infected with E. Faecalis bacteria. They found the new tip effective in reducing the amount of E. Faecalis within the root canals.
Although this breakthrough in laser technology is great news for root canal patients, one must be cautious and realize research is still in the early stages. Because these study results are recent, more research will be done and many dentists will need to learn more in order to use the laser efficiently and effectively.