Activation of Alkaline Irrigation Fluids in Endodontics
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In conventional endodontic treatment, alkaline solutions of sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl) and ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) are used in combination to disinfect the root canal system and to eliminate debris and smear layers. An important concept that has emerged over recent years is the use of active physical methods for agitating these fluids to improve their penetration within areas that are not reached by endodontic instruments and to accelerate the chemical actions of these alkaline fluids against planktonic microorganisms, biofilms, soft tissue remnants and smear layers. Ultrasonic agitation and more recently pulsed lasers have emerged as two promising methods for activating endodontic irrigation fluids. Ultrasonic agitation with piezoelectric devices employs a moving tip, while laser agitation uses a stationary tip. Both methods cause cavitation, followed by implosions and shear forces which assist with debridement. Fluid streaming further enhances the activity of the fluids. While agitation enhances performance of irrigants, extrusion of fluids from the root canal during activation is a hazard that must be controlled.
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Chemical Sciences not elsewhere classified