New technology makes root canal procedure less dreadful

Nobody wants to hear they need a root canal, but new technology is helping change that, and Arizona is now leading the way with a new procedure called "Gentle Wave".

Some patients are saying it's easier than getting a filling. The dreaded root canal can now be not so dreadful, it's all thanks to this new technology.

Back in the 90's, when Red Mountain Endodontics opened its doors, a root canal procedure was much different than it is today.

"By hand, we would actually physically take the nerves and blood vessels out with a hand file," said Dr. Steven Frost.

Nowadays, Dr. Frost and his team are using the latest technology, with Gentle Wave.

"This technology is different because it uses liquid. It uses the regular traditional chemicals such as bleach and mild acids to clean out the root, but it does it in a way that the mechanism of action is energy, so we're creating energy inside the tooth that dislodges tissue and brings out tissue through the hand piece, and we get a better clean, we get a more thorough debridement of the root canal system," said Dr. Frost.

Unlike a standard root canal, the Gentle Wave is able to reach all throughout your tooth, even in the microscopic places where bacteria can hide. Dr. Frost compares it to a power washer for your tooth, and the process takes eight minutes from start to finish.

"If you get a really good power washer at Home Depot or wherever, it's 3,000 PSI. It will clean your sidewalk to where you can practically eat off of it," said Dr. Frost. "This technology uses 9,600 PSI coming through the device actually into the chamber of the tooth, and that creates energy that is doing the ultimate cleaning."

There are benefits to this form of treatment.

"We're actually using less instrumentation on the roots," said Dr. Frost. "In the past, for us to get irrigation down to the tip of the root, we'd have to hog out the roots really wide, which makes the tooth more susceptible to fracture. So, with the Gentle Wave procedure, we don't have to do these big preps to get irrigant down, so we're using less files, less drilling. Who doesn't love that?"

Another major factor, your natural tooth has a better chance of being saved. That being the case for David Holland.

"This was nothing at all," said Holland. "Very simple, very easy, very painless, very quick too."

Holland had a tooth on the verge of having to be pulled.

"We didn't have to drill a big hole in the top or the side of the tooth to expose that defect," said Dr. Steven Richardson with Red Mountain Endodontics. "We were able to access the resorption area using a small pinhole in the top of the tooth, and as the fluid cycled through and I looked through the top of the microscope, you could see down the walls of the tooth just how clean and sharp all of those edges were."

"That was pretty amazing," said Holland. "When I looked at the X-Ray, I thought oh that's gone and find out no it's not."

Although getting a root canal isn't the best way to spend your day, it's safe to say the deep drilling agony of the standard procedure may be a thing of the past. So far, studies have shown a 98% success rate when using this technology.