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Profile: Apex Locators is a self-help guide to apex locators. Electronic apex locators are used in conjunction with radiography, in many cases, as an additional measure to ensure proper determination of canal length. Apex locators use an electrical circuit, with current traveling through the canal, actually using the patients oral tissues as a conductive flow path. To achieve this circuit, a lead is attached to a file, which in turn, is placed into the canal. Another lead is attached to the patients lip to complete the setup. Since hard tooth structure is a poor conductor, the signal at initial setup, will be very weak at best. As file is advanced through this area to the patient's apical foramen, the signal becomes very strong due to the electrical conductivity of these tissues. Signal is transmitted to the operator via the consoles LCD screen and typically an audible alarm. Electronic apex locators are small, light weight, portable units which typically operate off batteries. They all have some form of display to indicate the approximate distance of the file tip to the apex, and to show when the apical foramen is reached. Autoclavable components are typically lip clips (or electrodes), and file clips (or holders).
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