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Techniques for Obturating Root Canal Systems

A. Lateral Compaction: A master cone corresponding to the final instrumentation size and length of the canal is coated with sealer, inserted into the canal, laterally compacted with spreaders and filled with additional accessory cones.

B. Vertical Compaction: A master cone corresponding to the final instrumentation size and length of the canal is fitted, coated with sealer, heated and compacted vertically with pluggers until the apical 3-4mm segment of the canal is filled. Then the remaining root canal is back filled using warm pieces of core material.

C. Continuous Wave: Continuous wave is essentially a vertical compaction (down-packing) of core material and sealer in the apical portion of the root canal using commercially available heating devices such as System B (SybronEndo, Orange, Calif.) and Elements Obturation Unit™ (SybronEndo, Orange, Calif.), and then back filling the remaining portion of the root canal with thermoplasticized core material using injection devices such as the Obtura (Obtura Spartan, Earth City, Mo.), Elements Obturation Unit™ (SybronEndo, Orange, Calif.) and HotShot (Discus Dental, Culver City, Calif.).

D. Warm Lateral: A master cone corresponding to the final instrumentation size of the canal is coated with sealer, inserted into the canal, heated with a warm spreader, laterally compacted with spreaders and filled with additional accessory cones. Some devices use vibration in addition to the warm spreader.

E. Injection Techniques:

1. A preheated, thermoplasticized, injectable core material is injected directly into the root canal. A master cone is not used but sealer is placed in the canal before injection, with either the Obtura (Obtura Spartan, Earth City, Mo.), or Ultrafil (Coltene Whaledent, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio) or Calamus® (DENTSPLY Tulsa Dental Specialties, Tulsa, Okla.) filling systems.

2. A cold, flowable matrix that is triturated, GuttaFlow® (Coltene Whaledent, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio), consists of gutta-percha added to a resin sealer, RoekoSeal. The material is provided in capsules for trituration. The technique involves injection of the material into the canal and placing a single master cone.

F. Thermomechanical: A cone coated with sealer is placed in the root canal, engaged with a rotary instrument that frictionally warms, plasticizes and compacts it into the root canal.

G. Carrier-Based:

1. Carrier-Based Thermoplasticized: Warm gutta-percha on a plastic carrier, is delivered directly into the canal as a root canal filling. Examples are: ThermaFil® (Dentsply Tulsa Dental Specialties, Tulsa, Okla.), Realseal 1™ (Sybron, Orange,

Calif.), Densfil™ (DENTSPLY Maillefer, Tulsa, Okla.) and Soft-Core® (Axis Dental, Coppell, Texas).

2. Carrier-Based Sectional: A sized and fitted section of gutta-percha with sealer is inserted into the apical 4mm of the root canal. The remaining portion of the root canal is filled with injectable, thermoplastized gutta-percha using an injection gun. An example is SimpliFill (Discus Dental, Culver City, Calif.).

H. Chemoplasticized: Chemically softened gutta-percha, using solvents such as chloroform or eucalyptol, is placed on already fitted gutta-percha cones, inserted into the canal, laterally compacted with spreaders and the canal filled with additional accessory cones.

I. Custom Cone/Solvents: Solvents such as chloroform, eucalyptol or halothane are used to soften the outer surface of the cone as if making an impression of the apical portion of the canal. However, since shrinkage occurs, it is then removed and reinserted into the canal with sealer, laterally condensed with spreaders and accessory cones.

J. Pastes: Paste fills have been used in a variety of applications. When used as the definitive filling material without a core, they are generally considered to be less successful and not ideal.

K. Apical Barrier: Apical barriers are important for the obturation of canals with immature roots with open apices. Mineral trioxide aggregate is generally considered the material of choice at this time. Diagnosis and Assessment of Degree of Difficulty Avoiding procedural errors by a clinician performing endodontic treatment is ultimately based on adherence to the scientific evidence, and biological and technical principles considered to be the standard of care. The clinician who is able to correctly diagnose and assess case difficulty before initiating irreversible procedures will experience a higher rate of success.

The AAE has developed a form, the AAE Case Difficulty Assessment Form and Guidelines, to assist clinicians in accomplishing at least part of this goal of assessing the case prior to treatment or referral.

SummaryIf healing of pulpal and periapical disease is to be predictable, a proper diagnosis and treatment plan is essential. The clinician should also utilize an evidence-based approach to treatment applying knowledge of anatomy and morphology, and endodontic techniques to the unique situations each case presents. It is crucial that all canals are located, cleaned, shaped, disinfected and sealed from the apical minor constriction of the root canal system to the orifice and the cavosurface margin. Clinicians should know their level of competency and experience levels when performing endodontic treatment, and work within these parameters or refer the case to an endodontist.



1. Purpose of root canal fillings.
2. The classification of filling materials for root canal.
3. Requirements for materials for root canal.

4. Classification of sealers.
5. Requirements for sealers.
6. Non-hardening materials: composition, properties.
7. Indications for use, especially the use of non-hardening materials.


Independent out-of-class work

1. To write out the requirements of filling material for root canals.


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