A root canal treatment (RCT) is a microscopic surgical procedure performed by dentists and is indicated for teeth that have developed a bacterial infection of the core soft tissues. The surgery is done inside the patient's mouth by drilling a small opening inside the affected tooth and by removing the infected tissue through the prepared opening. The 30% failure rate of RCT's is mainly attributable to insufficient visibility and to the deficiency of optical instruments that are capable of adequately magnifying and illuminating the site of microsurgery. Therefore, the proposed Digital Pulpascope (DP) aims to directly address the surgical complications that develop from limited visibility during RCTs. The DP will improve the prognosis of RCTs by accomplishing the following objectives: (1) it should have adjustable magnification and illumination capabilities that are contained in a wireless handheld device, (2) it should be easily integrated into a dental practice by being ergonomic, cost efficient, and compatible with standard dental sterilization procedures, and (3) the device should employ a custom-designed software that supports a wide range of video, photo, and other functions relevant to RCT's. Preliminary results were obtained from a student design team from the Department for Mechanical Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. The design team concluded that a graded-index (GRIN) lens assembly coupled to a 900 triangular prism would achieve the desired magnification requirements. They also found that a light source should be chosen such that unwanted reflections and interference effects are minimized and the sample is sufficiently illuminated. The proposed work will build on the preliminary findings in order to develop a prototype that has strong potential for commercialization. Specific areas for improvement will be: (1) the use of optics with anti - reflection coatings to reduce unwanted glare and improve throughput (by more than 20%) and (2) the use of a surface mount LED at the tip of the DP casing could allow for up to 25% increase in the available light reaching the camera. The proposed work will explore routes for optimized cost and performance. Commercially available components such as a GRIN lens relay system, an LED illumination system, a beam splitter, and a wireless CMOS-based camera sensor will be used to construct the DP's final model. The final model will rigorously be tested by completing 90 RCTs on artificial dental training simulators, and the extrapolated design modifications will be applied to build the first wireless endodontic videoendoscope.
In the absence of adequate optical instruments, root canal treatments (RCTs) are difficult to perform, and 30% (4.8 million treatments annually) of them fail and cause reinfection, pain, and tooth loss. The proposed research aims to develop an endodontic videoendoscope (Pulpascope) that will improve the outcome of RCTs by providing dentists with methods of improved visibility of the surgical site.