What Is Gutta-Percha?

Gutta-Percha Root Canal PointsAnd What Is Gutta-Percha Used For?

Everything you want to know about this miraculous material!

What does a tree native to the tropical islands of southeast Asia have to do with dentistry? Quite a lot, actually… Due to its unique properties, gutta-percha has become a staple in dentistry—first used over 150 years ago!

A naturally-occurring plastic-like substance—in the same family of materials as latex—gutta-percha is the tree’s hardened sap. Gutta-percha is also biologically inert, meaning that it will not interact with the body’s chemistry or cause any ill effects to surrounding tissues. Additionally, it becomes pliable when heated and then hardens in position once cooled.

Because of these amazing attributes, gutta-percha has become the go-to filling material for endodontists, or any dentist performing a root canal.

During a root canal procedure, you might notice us bring out this special material. Called “points,” these portions of gutta-percha look like very much like toothpicks—thin and tapered at the end to fit into the smallest openings. The GP points are placed into the roots of the prepared tooth after infected tissue has been removed and the tooth surface sterilized.

In many cases, modern science and technology have improved the materials and tools we use in dentistry. In this case, however, nature provides the perfect solution. While many synthetic materials attempt to provide a better alternative, nothing has constantly outperformed gutta-percha. We can only be thankful for discovering such a wondrous material. And anyone who has ever experienced a toothache and subsequent root canal therapy has plenty of reasons to be grateful!

About Tom Massarat, DDS, MS

Tom Massarat DDS, MS is a Diplomate of the American Board of Endodontics. Dr. Massarat received his Certificate in Endodontics from Northwestern University in 1992. He also received his Dental Degree and Advanced General Dentistry Degree from Northwestern University in Chicago, Ill. Dr. Massarat is a member of the American Dental Association (ADA), American Association of Endodontists (AAE), San Diego County Dental Society (SDCDS) and American Board of Endodontists (ABE). He is also an advisor for the Experdent and Summit Study Groups. He has lectured extensively on many aspect of endodontics.


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