Silver and Other Metal Points

Shortly after endodontic files were standardized in the late 1950s the idea was conceived that a preparation could me made to fit a casting and cemented in place like an inlay.

That casting was a silver point.

It was also thought at the time that silver had antibacterial properties.

So standardized silver points and standardized files came into being.

Silver points were taught at many dental schools starting in the early sixties and extending even into the eighties.

The problem was that many canals were not round and thus cement had to take up the extra space.

For a long time, the option of using silver points was justified on the basis that some canals were too difficult or curved to negotiate with the larger files that were needed with gutta percha techniques.

Thus the mixture of gutta percha in the palatal canals of upper molars combined with silver points in the curved, smaller buccal canals was conceived.

It also became feasable to absolutely control the position of the filling vis-a-vis the apex by radiographing the silver point in place before cementing it.

The eventual demise of silver points came when it became generally recognized that silver corroded in most mouths and eventually the products of corrosion dissolved breaking the seal.

So it was ironic that the best silver point root canals were the worst and the worst were the best.

If a canal was done correctly with a tightly wedged silver point at the apex it was in contact with tissue fluid and after it corroded it was near impossible to remove, which it had to once it began to leak.

The best ones were the ones that didn't fit and were basically used as a method of pushing the cement into the apex and were left several millimeters short, thus sealing and filling the apical area with cement, and keeping the silver from contacting tissue fluid.