Successful endodontic treatment is dependent on accurate measurement of the working length. Any discrepancies in the working length, when compared to the actual position of the apical constriction, can result in failure of endodontic treatment sooner or later. When the electronic apex locator was introduced into the world of dentistry, it solved a huge problem for the dental community. It greatly reduced the amount of time that was taken to determine the distance between an anatomical reference point and the position of the apical constriction.
The importance of working length in the outcome of endodontic treatment cannot be stressed enough. Consider the following image.
It is evident that apex locators are a huge value addition to any endodontic practice. But what are the factors to consider before you invest in an apex locator? Once you are done reading this blog you will have a good idea of how to buy an apex locator.
An important fact to remember is the emergence of dental e-commerce platforms, that provide a large number of dental products with complete visibility. We are slowly evolving from the time of offline purchases and entered the world of e-commerce. With the advent of e-commerce, dentists around the country have gained access to various brands and products on their computer screen. However, with a wide range of options available, it is quite common to have a dilemma when it comes to purchasing an apex locator. The “Paradox of Choice” is immensely frustrating.
Making an equipment purchase is crucial considering the money spent and the duration for which the device stays with you.
Here are a few questions to ask before buying an apex locator
What technology does the apex locator work on?
The last few decades have seen 5 generations of apex locators which have evolved from measuring the electrical resistance offered by the periodontium to measuring the capacitance and the resistance of the circuit separately to increase the accuracy of the readings.
The following are the five generations of apex locators and corresponding technology used:
Generations of Apex Locators
|1st Gen||Electrical resistance offered by the periodontal ligament & oral mucosa|
|2nd Gen||Measure the opposition to flow of alternating current – Electrical impedance|
|3rd Gen||Use two different frequencies at the same time|
|4th Gen||Use two or more non-simultaneous frequencies and measure the difference in ratio between two currents|
|5th Gen||Measure the capacitance and resistance of the circuit separately|
Further direct and juxtaposing studies resulted in the creation of a steady algorithm for adapting the measuring capability of the device depending on the canal’s moisture characteristics. This has been implemented in the 6th generation of apex locators – Adaptive type Apex Locators.
What is the accuracy of the apex locator?
Accuracy in the readings displayed is an important consideration while purchasing an apex locator. Most of the apex locators in today’s world offer an accuracy of over 95%. However, it is important to have valid information regarding the accuracy of the device.
Does it offer accurate readings irrespective of the canal conditions?
Various clinical conditions might present a situation where the canal is filled with blood or purulent exudate. The continuous irrigation procedures can result in a moist canal that is filled with NaOCl, normal saline, chlorhexidine and other electrolytes. It is important that the apex locator provides accurate readings even in such canal conditions.
Does it have automatic calibration & real-time response?
Devices having automatic calibration are said to deliver accurate readings in any canal condition. In addition, real-time response allows continuous assessment of the position of the file in the canal.
What is the size of the device?
The size of the apex locator is a factor that dictates ergonomics and the workability as well. A compact apex locator can save space in your delivery tray. They can be moved around easily for working in different quadrants of the oral cavity.
Does it have a battery saving feature?
Most of the modern age apex locators use 3 AA rechargeable batteries that offer a considerable continuous operation time. That being said, the last thing that you would want to encounter is running out of battery power whilst carrying out an endodontic procedure.
The newer versions have a battery saving feature by which the apex locator is automatically switched off after a brief period of non-use. After it is switched off, the device can be set up by pressing a single button which makes it simple and effective.
How durable is the device?
When you invest in a device that costs a pretty penny, it is important to ensure its safety. However, unavoidable circumstances can result in the apex locator being dropped or subjected to any other physical damage. Some of the new age apex locators have “Shock Resistance” incorporated into the design to ensure that the device withstands the impact from a fall.
Hope this blog helped you in making a decision of buying the perfect apex locator for your practice.