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Root Canals and Endodontic History

The word "endodontic" comes from two Greek words meaning "inside" and "tooth." Around the second or third century B.C. a skull found in Israel’s Negev Desert had a bronze wire in one of its teeth, which, researchers believe, may have been used to treat an infected pulp and could be the first traces of endodontics.

In the first century A.D. evidence shows that early endodontics was used to drain the root canal to relieve pain and pressure. Over the next few centuries, dentists increased their understanding of tooth pulp and developed numerous endodontic methods to treat diseases relating to it. Endodontics then involved removing pulp or covering it with protective coatings made of materials like gold foil and asbestos.

The introduction of x-rays and effective anesthetics in the early 1900’s, made endodontics more predictable and more comfortable for the patient. Endodontics grew quickly as technological advances proved the safety of root canal treatment, allowing patients to save teeth that might have been lost to extraction.

In February 1943, a small group of dentists, practitioners and educators founded the American Association of Endodontists (AAE) in Chicago in an effort to share common endodontic experiences and interests. The AAE is an advocate for endodontists and endodontics and promotes the highest quality endodontic care.

Dental manufacturers came together in 1958 to discuss endodontic instrumentation and standardized endodontic instruments and materials used for root canal treatment. Mechanized instruments like the Giromatic were used, as were sonic and ultrasonic energy instruments. Nickel titanium was used for specialized endodontic files and high torque hand pieces. A natural latex material known as Gutta percha became a favorite material for sealing and filling after root canal therapy.

In 1963, the American Dental Association officially recognized endodontics as a dental specialty.

Dr. Jack Jacklich has been credited with many innovations in endodontic technique and tools after he graduated from the Loyola School of Dentistry in 1968. Jacklich was determined to make endodontics simpler and more uniform. He introduced the Precision Endo Syringe in 1978, and the Multi Mode Syringe in 1994 for procedures. Jacklich also focused on cleansing and preparation and designed a set of files known as the Fine Cut files and later a Fine Cut hand piece for mechanized preparation of the root canal.

Jacklich’s work along with other endodontists has advanced endodontics to the simpler and more advanced process it is today.