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 »  Home  »  Endodontic Articles 4  »  In vivo performance of the new non-instrumentation technology (NIT) for root canal obturation
In vivo performance of the new non-instrumentation technology (NIT) for root canal obturation
Introduction - Materials and methods.

A. Lussi, B. Suter, A. Fritzsche, M. Gygax & P. Portmann
Department of Operative, Preventive and Paediatric Dentistry, University of Bern, School of Dental Medicine, Bern, Switzerland.

Modern methods of root canal treatment are based on mechanical debridement, chemical disinfection and bacteria-tight sealing of the root canals with a filling material. Unfortunately, the intricate anatomy of most canals may be one of the reasons for failure in root canal treatment as mechanical enlargement of the main canals and the removal of infected dentine from the canal walls, may not remove bacteria in those areas which cannot be instrumented. The main function of irrigating solutions is the inactivation of these remaining bacteria and the removal of soft tissue debris.
Buckley & Spångberg (1995) found that 31.3% of root-filled teeth had signs of periapical disease with only 42% of all roots adequately filled. Monfared & Hartwell (1996) reported that 44% of the roots with evidence of periapical pathology were inadequately obturated. Saunders et al . (1997) found that root canal fillings judged to be adequate radiographically had a reduced incidence of radiolucencies periapically. Teeth obturated beyond the apex had more radiolucencies than those obturated flush with or within 2 mm of the radiographic apex.
Recently, a method and device have been presented which allow cleansing of root canals without the need for manual instrumentation (Lussi et al. 1993, 1995, 1999a). The canals are irrigated with a NaOCl solution under alternating pressure fields producing hydrodynamic turbulence, making the irrigant perfuse even minute ramifications of the root canal system. Experiments have demonstrated that NaOCl concentrations above 1% are best suited for the new device (Lussi et al . 1993, 1997b). With this non-instrumentation technology (NIT) the root canals are not enlarged mechanically to standardized dimensions. Therefore, it has become necessary to develop a new method for root canal obturation (NIT), that is, one that can fill entirely the unprepared canal space. The concept was to produce a profound low pressure (‘vacuum’) within the tooth and thus aspirate sealer into the entire root canal system. It was demonstrated in vitro that a reduced (absolute) pressure of 15 hPa (=15 mbar) or less was sufficient to produce radiographically dense root canal fillings (Portmann & Lussi 1994, Lussi et al . 1995, 1999b). Negative absolute pressures lower than 10 hPa have already been achieved in vivo (Lussi et al . 1996, 1997a). However, no clinical studies to demonstrate the performance of the technique were available.
The aim of this study was to compare in vivo the radiographic quality of root canal fillings performed by the NIT-obturation method versus conventional mechanical obturation both after cleaning and shaping the canals of the test and the control groups by conventional mechanical methods.

Materials and methods.
Sixty-six patients needing root canal treatment participated in this study. The treatments were performed by three private practitioners. The teeth were selected consecutively, applying the following exclusion criteria: no open apices, no cyst (as judged by radiography) present at the time of root canal filling, no apparent communication with the paranasal sinuses or with the mandibular nerve, no primary teeth, no known allergies to material used, no severe or terminal illness.
All subjects participated voluntarily in this study. A written consent form was signed before any treatment was carried out, and all work was approved by the Ethical Committee of the University of Bern, Switzerland.
Patients were assigned either to the control group ( n = 34, 78 root canals) or to the test group ( n = 32, 74 root canals) (Table 1).

Control group (conventional techniques).
All root canals were instrumented with K-Flexofiles (Dentsply Maillefer SA, Ballaigues, Switzerland) to a master apical file (MAF) between sizes 25 and 60, followed by step-back flaring up to size 70. Copious irrigation was used throughout the instrumentation procedure with NaOCl (3%). Each operator made a judgement whether a calcium hydroxide dressing was placed in the canals for at least 1 week.
The teeth were filled using AH 26 (De Trey Dentsply, Konstanz, Germany), mixed according to manufacturer’s instructions. The sealer was applied to the canal walls with a slowly rotating Lentulo spiral filler (Dentsply Maillefer SA). A master gutta-percha cone fitted to the size and length of the MAF was then seated into the canal. Compaction of the obturation material was achieved either by lateral condensation with a finger spreader and accessory cones (46 root canals) or with the McSpadden technique (Gutta condenser A0242 25 mm, sizes 060 or 080, Dentsply Maillefer SA) (24 root canals). In eight canals only one master gutta-percha cone was seated into the root canal. Following filling, parallel dental radiographs were taken with the aid of a film holder (Hawe Neos Dental, Biaggio, Switzerland).

Table 1. Specifications of the different treatment groups.

Specifications of the different treatment groups

NIT group.
Cleaning and shaping the root canals with conventional instruments up to a MAF between sizes 25 and 50 was carried out and followed by step-back flaring up to size 60. Calcium hydroxide was placed in the canals for at least 1 week.
The principle of the new obturation device is shown in Fig. 1. Its mode of function has been described in detail previously (Lussi et al . 1995). For obturation, the teeth were connected to the 4-stage vacuum pump via tubing equipped with a valve. The pressure in the canals was reduced to at least 15 10 2 Pa (=15 hPa). In the meantime, AH 26 (DeTrey Dentsply, Konstanz, Germany) was mixed with a powder to resin ratio of 1 : 1 (by volume). This ratio was chosen in order to make it more fluid, yet not change the sealing properties of the material (Barthel et al . 1994). In order to reduce trapped air bubbles to a minimum, the mixed sealer was evacuated for 5 min by means of a special vibrating device connected to a vacuum pump. The sealer was placed into a reservoir and then a valve was opened allowing it to be sucked into the pulp space. Since the diameter of the ‘tubing’ entering the tooth was bigger than that of the tube exiting the tooth, the obturation paste flowed into the tooth first. Evacuation was stopped as soon as sealer appeared in the evacuation tubing from the tooth to the pump.
The procedure for obtaining a tight fitting attachment to the tooth for the hose to the vacuum pump was as follows (Lussi et al . 1996): To keep the orifices of the canals open until obturation, flexible sterile nylon threads were inserted into the root canals. The occlusal ends of the nylon filaments were threaded into the conical connector and the latter held in situ whilst the gap between the access cavity and the adaptor sleeve was filled with a fast addition-curing silicone ( Jet Bite, Coltène, Altstätten, Switzerland) as shown in Fig. 2(a–d). After sealing and removing the nylon threads, the tooth was connected to the vacuum pump. The required vacuum indicated by a LED-display was usually reached within approximately 10 min (mean 6 min; range 2–14 min). In a few teeth technical problems occurred and an appropriate vacuum could not be reached. This teeth were not obturated by NIT and therefore not included in the study.
Upon completion of the root filling by NIT only, a first radiograph was taken (=NIT group, see Table 1). Then a master gutta-percha cone was inserted in the root canals of the same teeth as above, additional gutta-percha cones were fitted into the root canals without using lateral condensation and the second radiograph was taken (NIT/gutta-percha group, see Table 1).

Figure 1. Principle of the new obturation procedure: The connecting piece tightly fitted in the access cavity of the tooth consists of:
(1) reservoir for filling paste;
(2) a steel ball placed on top of the filling paste;
(3) an integrated valve, and
(4) a pipe to the vacuum pump (from Lussi et al. 1995).

Principle of the new obturation procedure

For assessing the two-dimensional quality of the root canal fillings, coded radiographs were projected onto a wall (magnification 10), traced on paper and then analysed morphometrically (MOP, Kontron, Munich, Germany) (Lussi et al . 1995). The root canal curvatures were scored as follows (Lussi et al . 1993): deviations 0– 5 , straight canal; deviations 5–30 , slightly curved canal; deviations >30 , curved canal. A reference point AC (apical constriction) was defined at 1.1 mm coronally to the radiographic apex (Guldener & Langeland 1993). Then, the apico-coronal extension of the root canal fillings was determined in relation to the reference point. Overextended (in relation to the apical constriction) fillings produced positive, underextended fillings negative readings [mm]. For overextended fillings, the area of the overfilling was measured. Further, the total obturated area was determined in three sections of the root canal: apical (0–2 mm coronal to AC), in the middle (2–4 mm coronal to AC) and coronal (4–7 mm coronal to AC). The periapical region was scored according to the PRI Index (Reit & Gröndahl 1983): PRI 1; periapical destruction of bone definitely not present; PRI 2; periapical destruction of bone probably not present, PRI 3; uncertain, PRI 4; periapical destruction of bone probably present, PRI 5; periapical destruction of bone definitely present.

Figure 2. Procedure for obtaining a tight filling attachment:
(a) Preparation of an access cavity with a standardized conical bur. Flexible sterile nylon threads are inserted and the conical connector put in place.
(b) A fast setting silicone is placed over the entire tooth crown.
(c) The tooth is connected to the vacuum pump.
(d) After reaching the required vacuum, which takes between 2 and 14 min, the filling material is sucked into the root canal system.

Procedure for obtaining a tight filling attachment
Preparation of an access cavity with a standardized conical bur

Statistical analysis.
The data were first analysed graphically using box plots. As they were not normally distributed, Kruskall–Wallis one-way analysis of variance was used to analyse the data. When the result indicated significant differences between groups, these groups were individually compared by means of the Mann–Whitney U -test, adjusting the significance level according to Bonferroni. In the NIT-group the number of gutta-percha cones used was correlated with the extension of the root canal filling by means of Spearman’s Correlation. Categorical data (PRI Index and root canal curvature) were compared using the chi-squared test. The level of significance chosen for all tests was P = 0.05.