Ultrasonically Activated Irrigation makes use of an ultrasonically oscillating file in order to improve the cleaning of the root canal during a root canal treatment. Cavitation has been associated with these oscillating files, but the nature and characteristics of the cavitating bubbles were not yet fully elucidated. Using sensitive equipment, the sonoluminescence (SL) and sonochemiluminescence (SCL) around these files have been measured in this study, showing that cavitation occurs even at very low power settings. Luminol photography and high-speed visualizations provided information on the spatial and temporal distribution of the cavitation bubbles. A large bubble cloud was observed at the tip of the files, but this was found not to contribute to SCL. Rather, smaller, individual bubbles observed at antinodes of the oscillating file with a smaller amplitude were leading to SCL. Confinements of the size of bovine and human root canals increased the amount of SL and SCL. The root canal models also showed the occurrence of air entrainment, resulting in the generation of stable bubbles, and of droplets, near the air–liquid interface and leading eventually to a loss of the liquid.
Macedo, R. G., Verhaagen, B., Fernandez Rivas, D., Gardeniers, J. G. E., van der Sluis, L. W. M., Wesselink, P. R., & Versluis, M. (2014). Sonochemical and high-speed optical characterization of cavitation generated by an ultrasonically oscillating dental file in root canal models. Ultrasonics sonochemistry, 21(1), 324-335. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ultsonch.2013.03.001