Effect of Vapor Lock on Root Canal Debridement by Using a Side-vented Needle for Positive-pressure Irrigant Delivery

Franklin R. Tay, Li sha Gu, G. John Schoeffel, Courtney Wimmer, Lisiane Susin, Kai Zhang, Senthil N. Arun, Jongryul Kim, Stephen W. Looney, David H. Pashley

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175 Scopus citations


Introduction: This study examined the effect of vapor lock on canal debridement efficacy by testing the null hypothesis that there is no difference between a "closed" and an "open" system design in smear layer and debris removal by using a side-vented needle for irrigant delivery. Methods: Roots in the closed system were sealed with hot glue and embedded in polyvinylsiloxane to restrict fluid flow through the apical foramen during cleaning and shaping. For the open system, the apical foramen was enlarged and connected to the external environment via a channel within the polyvinylsiloxane to permit unrestricted fluid flow. Smear and debris scores were evaluated by using scanning electron microscopy and analyzed by using Cochran-Mantel-Haenszel statistic. Results: No difference in smear scores was detected between the 2 systems at all canal levels. Significant differences in debris scores between the 2 systems were found at each canal level: coronal (P < .001), middle (P < .001), and apical (P < .001). Conclusions: The null hypothesis was rejected; presence of an apical vapor lock effect adversely affects debridement efficacy. Thus, studies with unspecified or questionable mechanisms to restrict fluid flow through the apical foramen have to be interpreted with caution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)745-750
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of endodontics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010



  • Debris
  • irrigation
  • root canal
  • side-venting syringe delivery
  • smear layer
  • vapor lock

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)

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