In my last article, I described my experience getting shocking news about my dental health. My new biological dentist, Dr. Ingo Mahn in Phoenix broke the bad news but at the same time offered me an interesting gentle root canal option to remedy it. He identified an abscessed tooth that went undetected for a very long time. A CT/Cone Beam Scanner was used and based on these results along with my dental history, he said this was very likely due to repeated work on old cavities causing mechanical breakdown. The infection builds over years resulting in the death of the tissues. You can read the full story on my previous blog.
My Diagnosis: Pulp Necrosis/Symptomatic Apical Periodontitis, Tooth #3
Necrosis: dead cells, tissues, and organs due to injury or failure of blood supply.
Apical periodontitis: An acute or chronic inflammatory process at the apex of the tooth, most commonly caused by bacterial invasion coming through the pulp of the tooth.
Rather than undergoing a standalone root canal treatment (RCT), he recommended I consider GentleWave Procedure, an innovative technology that helps preserve the tooth and cleans the root system more thoroughly than instrumentation used in conventional root canal procedures.
I knew this meant an additional expense but if some bacteria are left behind from a standalone root canal procedure, I am looking at the likelihood of future complications. Like more systemic inflammation (infection), a repeat root canal, or losing the tooth altogether. This would cost even more in expense and misery when you also factor in a tooth replacement!
I searched the GentleWave® website and found an endodontist on my side of town. Dr. Michael Thompson of Litchfield Endodontics started in general dentistry 18 years ago and for the past fourteen years, he’s been specializing in endodontics. He was the second endodontist to adopt the GentleWave Procedure in Arizona and started using it when it became commercially available 5 years ago.
How Does GentleWave® Work?
GentleWave® propels fluids with continuous irrigation using sound waves through the root canal system to clear out bacteria, debris, and infected tissue from the most complex parts of the root canals. It is a gentle root canal option that aims to optimize the cleaning process and promote early healing. The procedure lasts only minutes. It is concluded with a temporary fill to hold until you return to your dentist for a crown or onlay.
The Benefit of this Gentle Root Canal Option:
Actually, there are a few. According to Dr. Thompson, “the action of the GentleWave® cleans into microscopic anatomy that harbors bacteria and necrotic or inflamed pulp tissue that we could not access easily with conventional methods. Preparation for Gentle Wave use requires less canal instrumentation and as a result, preserves tooth structure to minimize the chance of future root cracks or fractures.” Well, that sounded good to me!
“The action of the GentleWave® also allows for significantly less post-operative sensitivity following completion of the procedure.” So, it is more likely you can return to work that same day with less discomfort or pain.
Success Rate and Outcomes of Choosing this Gentle Option:
So far, my tooth is fine. It has been over one year and my right-side facial pain has not returned. The sinus and ear congestion are very minimal, and I have not had any peripheral joint pain or swelling (hands and feet). The biggest relief is the reduction of headaches. Of course, these issues can still arise if I stray from my low to zero dairy and gluten diet and stick to keto-carnivore (low carb) eating. This is my personal diet that works for me.
I did not look at hard statistics when I made my decision to do this, but I did ask my endodontist if he has seen shorter recovery periods since adopting the GentleWave® Procedure into his practice. He said “yes” and he is seeing better clinical outcomes. However, he stated, “certain conditions do not allow those to heal as well as others and GentleWave® would not improve their outcomes”.
Does Gentle Root Canal Therapy Replace Standard Root Canals?
Well, that’s the million-dollar question since many people try to avoid a root canal at all costs. I believe it really depends on the patient and who you talk to. The GentleWave® website refers to their system as an alternative to root canal therapy. My endodontist said he uses this gentle root canal option in conjunction with a standard root canal (instrumentation) on nearly all his cases, including mine. He told me the GentleWave® Procedure can be used alone to clean a tooth effectively, but current studies do not support its use of it without instrumentation.
There are other alternatives to a root canal which I discovered in this article on emedicinehealth.com.1 I recommend asking your endodontist about all the options available. This consultation could determine the long-term outcome of your tooth and overall health. If you are not fully satisfied with the answers, get another opinion.
How Did This Gentle Root Canal Therapy Feel?
I will be sharing exactly how I felt in my upcoming YouTube video but for now, I can say this gentle root canal option was not painful. The sound of the machine is a little distracting, and it really did feel like pressure waves going through the tooth. The preceding instrumentation root canal was the tougher part, but he and his assistant had prepped me well with just enough local anesthesia. He gave me a play-by-play of every step of the procedure. Some patients do not want to know nor see anything but the doctor in me was too curious and fascinated by all this.
I just relaxed in the reclined chair with my mouth comfortably secured open, having a one-way conversation with him while the GentleWave® Procedure did its magic.
He can usually perform all procedures in one visit (as in my case) with exceptions being severe infection or cases in which removing materials is intricate and more complex.
Imaging was taken immediately after to view the outcome of the therapy. He then inserted a temporary bioceramic sealer. Within two weeks I needed to be back at Dr. Mahn’s office for the follow-up and onlay.
My Recovery After GentleWave®:
I do not take medications unless it is an emergency. Dr. Thompson told me it was a “deep treatment” and said I may want some over-the-counter pain meds once the anesthesia wears off. Three hours after getting home I needed an ice pack on my face, however, I was ingesting natural anti-inflammatory foods and herbs before and after the procedure which helped me minimize inflammation and therefore, the pain.
For patients like me with bony abscesses, he recalls them every 4-6 months for a complimentary re-evaluation to see how the structures are healing and regenerating. He said several patients do not follow through on this offer due to being pain-free or simply busy with their lives.
SOMETHING TO CONSIDER: Never assume a lack of symptoms means good health. GentleWave® or any root canal therapy may resolve symptoms but slow or lack of tissue healing can be problematic down the road, especially with unfavorable lifestyle habits like eating sugar or high-risk activities such as boxing or MMA (facial trauma). I recommend getting follow-up imaging especially if your endo offers it as part of the service.
Is This Gentle Root Canal Procedure Right for You?
It is going to depend on the professional opinion of your dentist or endodontist and your comfort level. Talking to one familiar with or certified in GentleWave® Procedure is a smart idea. Dr. Thompson stated there are a “few cases where the GentleWave® Procedure cannot be used, such as upper molar teeth with roots that extend into the maxillary sinus or incompletely developed teeth. On the other hand, he said, there have been a lot of cases where if he had not used GentleWave®, the case would have failed due to anatomical complexities.”
If you are having anxiety about a standard root canal or want to find ways to save your tooth, research this gentle root canal option and ask your endodontist about it. If he or she is not familiar with it, find a certified GentleWave® endodontist in your area.
Disclaimer and Considerations:
According to Dr. Thompson, the GentleWave® Procedure is not guaranteed to sterilize a tooth, nor is any other Endodontic irrigating procedure. Therefore, they will occasionally need to retreat a case or surgically address non-healing abscesses. In cases that fail or do not heal, it is often due to other factors such as the size and nature of the abscess or external root surface biofilm.
Biofilm in the root canal: an invasion of a multispecies collection of microorganisms in the roots because of tooth decay2. This could include over 20 species of bacteria and multiple fungi. These cells produce their own protective covering: the extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) which make them resistant to antimicrobial agents (drug therapy)3
My Thoughts on this Gentle Root Canal Therapy
This was my first and hopefully, my only root canal therapy, and I am glad I opted to have this procedure. By receiving GentleWave® and going in for my scheduled checkups and cleanings, I plan to have a lifelong relationship with this tooth (and the rest of them). More images will be posted on social media as well as a video on this experience. Feel free to subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more content!
Toothpaste ingredients for healthier, whiter teeth: https://youtu.be/KqTwsBf1y-8
GentleWave®by Sonendo – YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/Sonendo-Inc
To Find an Endodontist Certified in Gentle Wave Therapy, visit https://gentlewave.com/ and click Find a Doctor
In Arizona: Litchfield Endodontics- Dr. Michael Thompson:
In Arizona: Natural Dental Partners – Dr. Ingo Mahn:
1. Alternatives to Root Canal Therapy:
2. Biofilm in Root Canals: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7148501/#:~:text=Abstract,stress%20and%20low%20oxygen%20tension.
3. Advancing antimicrobial strategies for managing oral biofilm infections: