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The History of Root Canal Treatment

Root canal treatment removes infected tissue from the root canal, or the pulp-filled cavity of a tooth. Referred to as endodontics, this area of dentistry has a long history, with the most exciting innovations being introduced within the past decade.

What is Endodontics?

Meaning “inside the tooth,” endodontics is the area of dentistry specializing in the treatment of the dental pulp—the tissue within the root canal of the tooth. Standard endodontic treatment has largely remained the same over time, with minimal changes in the instrumentation used and the overall process of treatment.

Root Canal Instruments

The first root canal instrument was constructed from a watch spring in 1838,* used to access the pulp within the root of the tooth. Now referred to as files, these instruments are manually operated by the endodontist throughout standard root canal treatment—first used to open the path to the canal, and then assisting in the cleaning and shaping of the root canal.  

After they are cleaned and disinfected, the roots are filled to prevent reinfection. The filling material, gutta percha, was first introduced in 1847* and is still used today in root canal therapy.

These two tools—the file and gutta percha filling—remain part of standard endodontic treatment. The most recent innovation in root canal therapy, the GentleWave® Procedure, occurred in the past decade.

GentleWave ProcedureThe GentleWave Procedure uses fewer files than standard root canal treatment, as they are only used at the beginning of the procedure to open a path to the root canal. Once the path is opened and the endodontist has access to the root canal system, fluid dynamics take the lead. A vortex of procedure fluids then travel through the complex twists and turns of the canal to clean and disinfect the root canal system. The GentleWave Procedure reaches even the deepest portions where bacteria can hide,1 making it today’s alternative to standard root canal treatment.  

Finding a Root Canal Provider

If you’ve been told that you need a root canal, the next step is finding a root canal provider in your area. While both dentists and endodontists may perform root canal treatment, not all providers offer an alternative to standard treatment—the GentleWave Procedure!

To find a dentist or endodontist in your area with the GentleWave System, use our Provider Finder.

* Castellucci, A. A Brief History of Endodontics. Endodontics, Volume 1, Pg. 2

The GentleWave® Procedure is a medical procedure that is designed to prepare, clean and preserve the structure of teeth1,2,4 indicated for root canal therapy. Similar to other root canal treatment procedures, there is a potential risk of adverse effects. If you are considering the GentleWave Procedure, ask your clinician if you are a proper candidate. For additional information, visit

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