What do plants have to do with a root canal?

Gutta-percha refers to the rubbery sap of the Palaquiiun gutta, a tropical ever-green tree found in Malaysia and Indonesia. Gutta-percha has been used to insulate underwater telegraph wires, to make ornate jewelry and pistol grips, and as the core material in golf balls.

However, what I find to be most fascinating about gutta percha is how it is used in dentistry to fill the empty spaces inside the root of the tooth after it has undergone endodontic therapy. Dentists use gutta percha points that look like small toothpicks to fill the prepared space. The physical and chemical properties (inertness, biocompatibility, ductility, thermo plasticity, malleability and melting point) make gutta percha ideal for this use. Gutta-percha points become flexible when heated and can be compressed into and against the walls of the root canal, then when cooled it becomes hard, durable, non-brittle, non-elastic latex that retains the form of the root canal to seal it.

Just another way plants make our lives better.

Submitted by: Elaine Allard

 

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