by Dr Ailin Teo, Ailin Teo Dental Surgery, Geelong, VIC
These endodontic obturators are made up of a flexible plastic central carrier coated with alpha-phase gutta-percha (GP). Heating the Thermafil obturators in a ThermaPrep oven softens the GP, making it slightly sticky with flow characteristics. This allows for the formation of an airtight seal in root canals and penetration into lateral and accessory canals.
What’s good about it?
Firstly, as the carrier is flexible, it allows predictable obturation of curved canals. Secondly, the slightly warm GP adapts beautifully to the canals, providing three-dimensional obturation. Thirdly, it’s extremely efficient, requiring just one single motion to obturate each canal.
Finally, the central plastic carrier can be utilised as a post. Some practitioners prefer to prepare a space for a separate direct or indirect post. Instead, I often leave 2-3mm of the Thermafil central carrier in the pulp chamber, utilising this as a post instead. This has provided excellent, consistent results for the past 10 years. This technique also potentially lessens stresses on root canal walls as it avoids the need for post space preparation.
I also use the EndoActivator System during canal preparation This uses the hydrodynamic phenomenon of cavitation and acoustic streaming for deeper cleaning and disinfection into lateral canal fins and anastamoses, along with better smear layer removal.
Using this system with the softened GP from the Thermafil obturators allows for better penetration of GP into complex root canal systems.
What’s not so good
Sometimes excess GP that overflows into the pulp chamber can take time to clean up. However, this is also an indication that the canals have been obturated with an airtight seal.