Dental Tribune USA

Root canal performed on American TV

By Fred Michmershuizen, DTA
February 02, 2009

When endodontists go to work, they invariably think about things like access, working length, cyclic fatigue and obturation. But when patients think about a root canal, they are primarily concerned about one thing and one thing alone — pain.

So when Dr Bill Dorfman and Dr Darrell Chun presented a case for endodontic treatment on the nationally televised programme The Doctors recently, the discussion focused on pain — specifically, the lack thereof. Dorfman explained how using Waterlase MD laser technology, available from Biolase, would make the procedure 'painless' for the patient.

“The cool thing about this is usually there’s no pain, no shots, and we’re using a combination of the laser plus water to clean out the root instead of using Clorox and files like we used to use,” Dorfman told viewers at the beginning of the show.

In addition to alleviating viewers’ concerns over the actual amount of pain involved in treatment, Dorfman also used an animation to show viewers what happens to a tooth when the pulp chamber becomes infected, and to explain the need for root canal therapy.

“When that becomes infected we need to remove the nerve, otherwise your face just blows up,” Dorfman said. “So it’s really important to do a root canal when you start having pain like that.”

The patient, a woman named Kenya, expressed her happiness at the conclusion of the procedure. “It was absolutely painless, and I’m not afraid to go to the dentist now,” she said. “It was wonderful. I almost went to sleep, it was that painless.”

Dorfman used a model of human teeth to educate viewers even further. “When you have a normal, healthy tooth, the nerve is pink and healthy,” he said. “But what happened with Kenya is she started to get decay in here. That decay grew and grew and grew, and then the nerve died. Once the nerve dies, we have to take it out. If you don’t take the nerve out, you get this big abscess.”

He explained how Chun had removed Kenya’s nerve, cleaned the area with a laser and then filled the canal with gutta-percha. “That gutta-percha is like a resin, and that will stay there for the rest of her life,” Dorfman explained to viewers.

In addition to using the Waterlase laser to clean out the tooth and remove the nerve, decay and infection, the doctors also used a handheld NOMAD Pro X-ray machine, available from Aribex. A HotShot cordless backfill device, available from Discus Dental, was used to obturate the canal.

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