Thursday, December 27, 2007

Endodontic Healing with Perforation Repair

This patient came to my office in March of 2003. She had two large "all porcelain" bridges done a year and a half earlier between #22-#27. Teeth #24 & #25 were diagnosed as necrotic with Chronic Apical Periodontitis. Endodontic therapy was initiated.

To my dismay, a suprabony perforation was created on the distal of #24.

After a little redirection, the canals were located and then instrumented and obturated.

Both teeth were obturated with gutta percha. Because the perforation was suprabony, Geristore was selected as the repair material. Since geristore is a resin, it will not wash out, making it ideal for a defect above the level of crestal bone. The patient was informed of the perforation defect and its repair.

Typically I would re-evaluate this case 6 months to a year following completion. This patient chose not to return until another tooth needed endodontic treatment.
The patient reported no symptoms and our recall film at 3 yrs 9 months shows complete healing of the apical radiolucencies.
Retaining these teeth with endodontic therapy allows for healing of the bone and maintains the crestal level of the bone as well as provides more life from the recently placed porcelain bridges.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Fractured Tooth

This patient came in today with a necrotic tooth #14. She had a draining sinus tract on the palatal and recounted a history of massive palatal swelling. Diagnostic tests found #14 Necrotic Pulp with Chronic Apical Abscess.
The tooth had a MO amalgam & O amalgam. Patient also has a history of bruxism with cuspal fractures on other teeth.

Upon access, a crack running down the distal wall and a crack running down the mesial wall both took a left turn and met across the pulpal floor. This tooth was then diagnosed as non-restorable and an extraction was recommended.
Had this tooth been crowned previously, it may have been saved. When patients exhibit severe patterns of occlusion with bruxism, I would recommend cuspal coverage at an earlier stage.
If you have difficulty making this recommendation to your patients, I would be glad to send you some pictures from my photographic collection called, "Teeth that might not have fractured if they had been crowned". You could make a nice picture book with these photos.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Treatment of Patients taking Bisphosphonates

Bisphosphonates are a group of drugs that are commonly prescribed in the prevention and treatment of resorptive bone conditions. These would include osteoporosis, bone metastasis associated with breast & prostate cancer, multiple myeloma, Paget's disease & other conditions that cause chronic bone fragility.

Some common bisphosphonates would include Aredia(pamidronate), Fosamax(alendronate), Zometa(zolendronate). These drugs work by inhibiting osteoclast formation. Osteoclasts are cells with the ability to break down bone. These drugs come in an oral form and IV form.

There has been recent concern regarding this class of drugs and the increasing awareness of a rare side effect known as osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ). ONJ is the inability of the bone to heal. Signs & symptoms may include gingival ulceration with exposure of the bone, pain or swelling in the jaw, infection of the jaw & altered sensation. ONJ occurs more frequently in the mandible than the maxilla.

Treatment of ONJ is very difficult. Treatments that have had limited success include surgical wound debridement, bone resection, antibiotics & hyperbaric oxygen. Prevention is the best treatment for ONJ.

Recognizing patients who are taking these drugs, and eliminating any treatment that would cause direct trauma/irritation to the bone is essential (extraction, implants or any type of surgical procedure). Patients who are taking or have taken the IV form of these drugs are at a higher risk of ONJ.

For additional information regarding recommendations and treatment guidelines for patients using bisphosphonates: click here

(Source: Endodontics Colleagues for Excellence, Winter 2007, Bisphosphonate-Associated Osteonecrosis of the Jaw. American Association of Endodontists)


This patient came to my office after having broken the crown off of tooth #13. Recurrent decay was to the level of the crestal bone. The root was very short. The patient is currently being treated for multiple myeloma. Her past treatment have included IV bisphosphonates. Due to history of IV bisphosphonates, an extraction of #13 is contraindicated due to her high risk of ONJ.

Endodontic treatment is completed to remove any source of infection and the tooth is "banked". Banking indicates removing decay, completing RCT and placing a permanent access restoration with no intention of restoring the crown of the tooth.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Finding a Calcified Canal

This patient came in for treatment of #11. Single root, single canal, no crown, you would think that this would be an easy root canal. However, notice the calcification of the canal. Sometimes when the crown is gone, it is difficult to determine the long axis of the tooth. You can see the the original access is getting slightly off centered toward the distal & lingual. This wise dentist knew to stop before a perforation occured.

If you look closely (select the image to enlarge), you can see the difference in color between the primary and secondary dentin. You can actually see where the canal used to be, before it calcified in. Right in the center of that secondary dentin is a small white speck. This is where the dentinal chips have accumulated in the canal. That little white spot is the remnant of the canal.

Micro-opener used to open the canal.

The rest of the case goes without a glitch.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Root Amputation

This tooth had been retreated once, and was failing to heal. Over time, an increase in the radiolucent lesion around the MB root was detected. The patient was then presented the options:
1. Root canal surgery to treat the MB root
2. Extraction & tooth replacement
Since the crown was in good shape, the patient wanted to try and save the tooth. The patient was informed that we would surgically expose the tooth, evaluated the root end. If no fractures are found, then we would recontour the root end (apical resection) and then place a reverse filling (retrofilling) in the end of the root. Patient was also informed if a crack is found down the length of the root, we'll have to review other options.

After flap reflection and curretage and apical root resection. You can see that there is only a small bridge of bone across the buccal of the MB root.

A crack is seen on the palatal side of the MB root. The patient at this point is informed of the fractured root. He is given the option to stop and extract the tooth, or proceed with a root amputation.

Here you can see the MB root has been removed. The gutta percha is exposed. A retropreparation and retrofilling must still be completed to prevent coronal leakage into the canals system.
A root amputation is a great way to buy some time for this tooth. It allows the patient to retain the natural tooth, but I make sure the patient knows that if another root becomes fractured, they will have to remove this tooth.

Following the retropreparation. I have sometimes seen root amputations performed without doing a retropreparation and retrofill. That would be the same as doing a root canal without placing a permanent restoration. Bacteria will leak in and contaminate the root canal.

Retrofilling placed. In this case, it was a glass ionomer.

Final Film. After root amputation is completed. It is important to reduce the occlusion to make sure that all occlusal forces are directed over the remaining roots. While a root amputation is not the best call for all patients, we should be aware of this treatment option and the service that it can provide to our patients.