Objective: Fractured endodontic instruments inhibit optimal cleaning and filling of dental root canals, which may result in a less favorable prognosis for the tooth. Several techniques are available to remove fractured instruments; however, healthy tooth substance often must be destroyed in the process. This study was intended to evaluate Nd:YAG laser treatment as a method to remove fractured stainless steel instruments without destroying healthy tooth substance.
Method and Materials: Stainless steel endodontic instruments were fractured in 33 unprocessed root canals of mandibular central and lateral incisors and premolars in vitro. A brass tube charged with solder was placed at the coronal end of the fractured instrument and laser energy was used to melt the solder, connecting the fractured instrument with the brass tube. The success rates of connecting and removal of fractured instruments from the root channel were recorded for each case.
Results: Connecting was achieved in every case in which more than 1.5 mm of the fractured instrument was tangible (22 out of 22). In cases where less than 1.5 mm was tangible, the rate for successful connection decreased to 4 out of 11 (36.4%). Fractured endodontic instruments were removed successfully in 17 out of 22 cases (77.3%) in which more than 1.5 mm was tangible. If less than 1.5 mm was tangible, the removal success rate decreased to 3 out of 11 cases (27.3%).
Conclusion: Our data support Nd:YAG laser-mediated connecting of a brass tube to a fractured endodontic instrument as a feasible and tissue conserving removal approach when more than 1.5 mm of the instrument is tangible.
Keywords: endodontics, fractured instrument, instrument removal, laser