The Story Behind Dental EndoMaster

MirrorWorks Dental's avatar
Jun 21, 2024
The Story Behind Dental EndoMaster


After graduating from dental school, I encountered my first molar root canal treatment while working as a public health dentist. However, I hadn't gained enough practical experience in school, and I had no one to seek help from, which unfortunately led to the tooth's extraction.

Many novice dentists share similar experiences. While theoretical knowledge is provided in dental school, there is often a lack of practical experience in performing root canal treatments on actual patients. Consequently, it can take over ten years to build sufficient experience, with many difficulties and setbacks along the way.

To address these issues, I analyzed why root canal treatment is challenging and researched methods for faster mastery. Today, I want to share the solutions I discovered with you.

The Challenges of Root Canal Treatment: The Hurdles of Limited Visibility

Root canal treatment requires skilled techniques and delicate procedures. But why is it particularly challenging compared to other treatments? The primary reason, I believe, is the inherent limitation of visibility.

Unlike caries treatment, where you can directly observe and remove decay, root canal treatment involves navigating the tiny, intricate internal structures of the tooth. This limited visibility makes the procedure more complex.

Despite learning dental anatomy and using X-rays to understand the internal structure of teeth, accurately locating the root canal orifices during treatment is difficult. Particularly with calcified canals or high-complexity cases, it feels like blindly searching for a needle in a haystack. Even experienced dentists find this challenging.

Another issue is the difficulty in directly confirming treatment results. While you can visually verify the success of caries treatment, root canal treatment involves internal changes that are not visible, making it hard to judge success. This uncertainty increases anxiety about the procedure and slows down the learning process.

The Journey to Expertise: The Reality and Challenges of Root Canal Training

Various educational programs are available to improve root canal skills. Online lectures, offline seminars, and practical opportunities provide theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience. I also learned a lot from online lectures when I was a fresh graduate.

However, applying these skills clinically was more challenging than expected. Specifically, accurately identifying the exact location and shape of the canals in each tooth is very difficult. For example, the advice often available with upper molars was experiential, like accessing toward the largest canal from the center of the occlusal surface, the palatal canal. This kind of ambiguous information made it hard to perform successful root canal treatments.

Additionally, learning the essential techniques and know-how required for treatment is difficult. These limitations in education make root canal treatment a particularly challenging field.

The View of Experts: The Difficulty of Conveying Invisible Expertise

An interesting point is that even experts with years of research and experience find it challenging to effectively convey their skills to beginners. This is the difficulty of transmitting invisible know-how.

Experienced root canal specialists use X-rays and anatomical knowledge to understand the tooth’s internal microstructure and proceed with treatment. For example, locating calcified canal orifices is a skill acquired through years of practice. Since the target is an invisible 3D maze, explaining it to others is difficult.

The most effective method of teaching root canal treatment would be to guide learners through real patient treatments step by step. However, this is practically difficult to achieve.

Is There a Better Way to Master Root Canal Treatment?

Given the challenges of learning root canal treatment due to its focus on invisible internal structures, learners and educators face significant hurdles. This results in lengthy and costly training processes.

Is there a way to overcome time and experience constraints in root canal training? How can we most efficiently master root canal techniques?

We need to understand why root canal treatment is difficult to find the answer. The primary challenge is the internal structures of the tooth that are not visible. If we had a tool to see inside the tooth, root canal treatment would no longer be challenging. It would be as easy as caries treatment, where you can see what you are doing. Modern CBCT (Cone Beam Computed Tomography) technology helps visualize internal structures, significantly aiding complex cases.

We aimed to solve this issue using the latest technology to visualize the invisible parts.

Understanding Tooth Internal Structures: Utilizing Visual Tools for Precision

Training to predict the internal structure of teeth can reduce the difficulty of root canal treatment to the level of caries removal. This requires breaking some fixed ideas.

1. Are all tooth interiors different?

One of the first things you learn in endodontic education is that "the shape of the canals varies between teeth." This statement can be both true and false. In cases where dentists cannot find a canal, variations in canal shape are often the easiest aspect to blame. Since it's invisible, any deviation from expectation is attributed to variation. This experience reinforces the belief that each tooth has a unique internal structure, which solidifies as fact. As a result, instead of anticipating the internal anatomy and preparing an access cavity accordingly, practitioners start and adjust their strategy based on the unfolding situation. This reactive approach often fails with calcified chambers or narrow canal entries and does not build a solid knowledge base.

2. Finding Consistency in Canal Shapes

Are canal shapes different for each tooth? As mentioned earlier, the pulp chamber conforms to the tooth’s external shape. By understanding the typical shapes of pulp chambers, you can easily locate the canal entrances that start at the chamber’s floor. However, the shapes within the root are more variable.

3. Knowing Pulp Chamber Shapes Makes Root Canal Treatment Easier

Generalizing the less variable shapes of pulp chambers provides several clinical advantages. The first is standardizing the shape of access cavities. We can pre-design the access cavity shape by predicting the positions of critical points like the pulp horns and canal entries. This offers several benefits:

  1. Optimized Access Cavity Design: Initially, predictions may be inaccurate, making it difficult to find the optimal range. However, repeated cases allow for refinement, comparing predictions with variations to achieve optimization. This is difficult to accomplish without starting with a prediction and reacting to each situation instead.

  2. Problem-solving during Treatment: Consider encountering calcified canals. Traditionally, you would approach until you felt the “sinking sensation” of the bur, then widen the cavity. If the first step fails, unexpected situations arise, and the next steps rely on experience rather than protocol. Inexperienced practitioners may cause iatrogenic damage. Conversely, planning and approaching the canal orifices beforehand ensures that even with calcification, the positions remain predictable. Careful exploration in expected areas minimizes unnecessary removal of tooth structure, enhances the chance of locating the canals, and builds valuable experience by comparing plans with outcomes.

Accurately predicting the internal structure of teeth and planning treatments accordingly can significantly reduce the difficulty of root canal therapy, leading to better outcomes.

Finding Internal Landmarks of Teeth: Enhancing Understanding through 3D Visualization.

Once we define the general structure of root canals, we need to find a practical way to locate them. Historically, education has presented the external and internal structures of teeth separately.

For example, while micro-CT images are commonly used to visualize internal structures, they rarely show where these internal landmarks align with the occlusal surface. Existing research indicates that the pulp chamber roof is near the CEJ line, but the precise locations of canal entries on the occlusal surface are unknown.

Using these external landmarks to estimate the positions of internal structures would be like treating the tooth with knowledge of its internal anatomy. This would allow for more precise treatment planning and execution.

Dental EndoMaster: The Solution for Root Canal Training

Dental EndoMaster is an app designed to teach the basic knowledge of root canal treatment, helping practitioners find internal landmarks based on the external anatomical structures of teeth. This app offers several advantages over traditional training materials:

  1. Focus on Internal Tooth Structures

    Traditional training materials struggle to dynamically show both external and internal structures of teeth. Textbooks offer limited images, and videos only show predefined parts, making it hard to experience various cases. In contrast, Dental EndoMaster uses micro-CT images interactively on a smartphone app, allowing detailed examination of internal structures. It can also predict outcomes based on defined cavity shapes.

  2. Linking External and Internal Structures

    This app bridges the gap between external anatomical features and internal landmarks. Users can project the internal pulp horns and canal entries onto the occlusal surface along the tooth's long axis or access cavity direction. This allows a precise understanding of their relationships and real-time adjustment of access cavity directions.

  3. Simulated Practice with Diverse Teeth

    One challenge of root canal training is the limited variety of teeth available for practice. Dental EndoMaster uses micro-CT data to offer continuous addition of different tooth models. These models can be used by dental students and practitioners worldwide for training, with the option to add specific models as needed.

Dental EndoMaster simplifies the complexity of root canal treatment and significantly shortens the learning curve. With this app, dentists can reduce the difficulty of root canal therapy and rapidly enhance their skills.

Dental EndoMaster: Advancing Root Canal Training

What might users expect from a root canal training app? Dental students or dentists with conventional training might expect to simulate drilling and creating access cavities on their smartphones. They might anticipate the “drop-in” sensation when the bur penetrates the pulp chamber roof. This tactile sensation is best experienced with extracted teeth.

Dental EndoMaster does not provide this tactile feedback. Instead, it offers something more valuable: the ability to visualize the internal anatomy of teeth and understand the connections between internal and external landmarks. This app aids in visual learning, enabling users to comprehend the internal structures of teeth and plan precise root canal treatments.

Therefore, Dental EndoMaster is not an alternative to tactile sensation practice but a tool to improve the understanding and prediction of internal tooth structures. This reduces the complexity of root canal treatment and greatly improves the learning curve.

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