Continuous apex location – Give your rotary handpiece a built-in apex locator!

Endodontic working lengths… It was something which seemed to take endless calculation in dental school. In private practice, you just don’t have that much time! I often find that my working length changes throughout preparation, and its important to adjust this to ensure you don’t over or under instrument the canal.

I found a simple way around this, by using my apex locator as a continuous monitor for my preparation length. Simply attach the apex locator to your rotary file while preparing the canal. Your nurse can help with this to make it a smoother process when changing between files. An added bonus is that it gives them something to watch for so hopefully they don’t fall asleep mid-procedure! (Something thats definitely happened to me during endodontic appointments!)

This technique has saved me time by keeping my preparation length accurate throughout the procedure. It avoids repeat radiographs to check, adjust, and re-check endodontic file length. Rotary handpieces with built-in apex locators are available on the market. This technique makes use of the regular equipment that you probably already have available to you in your surgery.

Let us know if you have any tips that might help us in our everyday practice – or if you’ve found this technique to work for you or not!

Many thanks must go to Dental Head Starts fantastic nurses/patient models – we couldn’t do it without them!

David is a recent graduate dentist working in private practice in regional NSW, Australia. Read more at

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