Have you ever wondered what sodium hypochlorite really does? Sodium hypochlorite is responsible for tissue dissolution. In essence, it dissolves all the pulpal tissue as part of the chemical disinfection during your root canal.

I love it when I pull out the pulp in one big piece because I do a little science experiment to teach my assistants the importance of sodium hypochlorite with respect to time. So, the last time this happened I decided to take some pictures. This is from the palatal root.

Pulp

So, I put it in a cup…

Pulp pre-hypochlorite in a cup

And soaked it with some sodium hypochlorite and waited. After about 10 minutes, this is what it looked like…

Pulp after 10 minutes in hypochlorite

So, you can see that the tissue is still there, it’s a different color, but it isn’t quite gone yet.  So, I waited another 5 minutes.

Pulp after 15 minutes in hypochlorite

The tissue is still kind of there, but you can see that it’s starting to get eaten through a bit. So, I let it sit a little longer…

Pulp after 20 minutes in hypochlorite

and now only a little speck left, so I gave it another 5 minutes, and abracadabra, it was all gone!!

Pulp after 25 minutes of soaking in hypochlorite

So 25 minutes in total and there was no longer anything left in the cup, just from letting it soak, and without doing anything else.

So, the moral of the story is don’t rush your root canals — your hypochlorite needs time to do its job! This is more of a tortoise task than a rabbit one.

And if you need more time for it to work on your patient, go do a hygiene check and let your hypochlorite hang out for some more time. It works! Plus that’s a win-win for your patient. And it’s a teaching tool for your team!

Talk soon.

-Sonia

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