• file diameter;
  • irrigation;
  • root canal surgery;
  • thermal image analysis;
  • tooth


Aim  To investigate the influence of the size and the depth of insertion of irrigating needles, and the diameter of the master apical file on flow distribution during fluid irrigation in root canals.

Methodology  Stepback canal instrumentation was employed on seven extracted human single canal teeth. The size of the master apical files ranged from sizes 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50 to size 80 within the seven teeth, respectively. A thermal imaging system (ThermaCAM; National Instruments Co., Austin, TX, USA) was used to record the dynamic fluid distribution following root canal preparation. The dynamic fluid distribution was analysed during irrigation by insertion of different irrigating needle tips (23, 25 and 27 gauge) at various depths (3, 6 and 9 mm) from the root apex. The whole process of irrigation was recorded by a video camera and analysed by two observers separately. The success of the irrigation process was defined when the irrigant was able to flow into to the apical region immediately after injection.

Results  The aqueous irrigant was flushed into the apical region when a size 27 gauge irrigating needle was placed into a size 30 canal at a point 3 mm from the apical stop. When the same needle tip was placed 6 mm from the root canal apex, successful irrigation was achieved only in the canals prepared to size 50 or larger. When a size 25 gauge irrigating needle was placed 3 mm from the working length, the canal size had to be no <45 to allow for successful irrigation. When a size 23 gauge needle was placed at the same position, the canal needed to be prepared to size 50 to allow thorough irrigation of the apex. At 9 mm from the apical stop, none of the irrigating needles could achieve successful irrigation of any canal size.

Conclusion  The flow distribution of root canal irrigation can be affected adversely by large diameter irrigating needles, by greater distances between the needle tip and the apical stop, and by narrow root canals.