Root Canal Treatment in Japan without a Microscope


Dr. Nakamaru is one of the few dentists in Japan whose clinic owns and uses a powerful industry-grade surgical microscope, allowing their dentists to precisely inspect and work on teeth. In this blog post, Dr. Nakamaru shares with us why it is important to ask if your dentist is using a surgical microscope before undergoing root canal treatment in Japan.

Did you know that when a dentist works on your teeth without a microscope, that dentist has to trust the feeling of their own fingers and the tip of the tool? Did you also know that when a dentist drills into your tooth without magnified vision, that dentist has to rely on, more than a small part, their intuition?

I believe both of these to be unscientific and untrustworthy and potentially unsafe. I believe it is essential for a dentist to actually see what they’re to treat a tooth accurately and correctly. Imagine yourself trying to clean the living room with your eyes closed and having to rely on the end of the vacuum cleaner to get the job done properly. Now imagine your dentist performing a root canal on you in the same manner.

Just like you can’t see the surface of salt without the aid of high-power magnification, dentists cannot see the minute details of the tooth with their bare eye. I believe a dentist’s work has to be precise and overcome a human being’s limitation of visibility. The industry-grade surgical microscope I have and use in my clinic allows up to 20x magnification, allowing me to clearly see and inspect the curvature and cracks in a patient’s tooth.

When it comes to root canals, if a part of the nerve is left after a procedure, it could become the cause of an infection after several years’ time. So, a dentist has to regularly “watch” and clean that tooth. In another example, when a small gap exists between your filling and tooth, it could lead to another tooth cavity later on. Both of these are problems that are impossible to be detected by you.

In the first case, a root canal is literally inside your tooth and so is impossible to be seen by you. You probably won’t notice until painful symptoms occur. In the second case, the gap between tooth and filling is very small to see in general, but is more than wide enough for bacteria to enter. It is common sense to answer the question: who’s judgement would you trust more, the dentist using a microscope or the dentist that isn’t?

To put things into another perspective, the success rate for a first root canal treatment in the USA is 90~95%, using a microscope for root canal treatment is very common. However, the success rate for root canal treatment in Japan, where using a microscope is very uncommon, is only 50%. A root canal treatment’s success rate depends on how clean the inside of root canal is after the procedure. Using a rubber dam is also a big factor for success.

If you believe your teeth are important to you, a dentist has to work in confidence. True, magnified “visibility” gives a dentist’s confidence a huge boost when we treat your teeth.

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