Authors: Coolidge ED.
Title: Past and present concepts in endodontics.
Journal: J Am Dent Assoc
Date: Dec 1960
Citation: 61:676-88
Category: History of Endodontics
Evidence-based Ranking: 5
Purpose/ Objectives: To review the progress in Endodontic theory, treatment and research from 1872 to 1960.

Discussion: Research in dental problems was scarcely few before 1900; Endodontic treatment was largely a matter of trial and error. In the last half of the nineteenth century, the use of arsenic to devitalize the pulps was very common. At the turn of the century few dental schools had facilitated and organized in active research. While many European researchers made extensive studies of the reaction of the periapical tissues to mummified pulp stumps, American investigators were studying the results of complete pulp removal and root canal filling. Miller in the early 1890’s didn’t think it would be possible to disinfect the entire root without periapical tissue injury. So strong caustics, such as carbolic acid, creosote, iodine, and alcohol were used. Callahan introduced sulfuric acid in 1894. Buckley introduced formocresol in 1904. It was common to have treatment failed in a few years because of “reinfection”. Teeth extracted from years after root canal treatment were used in histological studies. The healing of soft tissue and returning to normal relations of the periodontal fibers and cementum led to the belief of aseptic technique and use of sterile instruments during treatment. Onderdonk first recommended test of root canals for bacterial growth in culture media in 1901. Grossman in 1938 reported that 42% of 150 root canals, which were ready to fill, showed to have virile organisms presents with culture test. Not until 1960, a biological approach was to use mild antiseptics, germicides, or antibiotics to control the microbial contents in the pulp chamber and canals. The use of bacterial culture test to determine sterility and readiness to be filled is looked on as an essential procedure. The author realized that great progress has been made, but some unrealized concepts may be realized in the next generation.

Reviewer’s Comments: historical article