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doi:10.1111/j.1365-2591.2012.02015.

Cyclic fatigue of Reciproc and WaveOne


reciprocating instruments

G. Plotino, N. M. Grande, L. Testarelli & G. Gambarini


Department of Endodontics, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy

Abstract
Plotino G, Grande NM, Testarelli L, Gambarini G. Cyclic
fatigue of Reciproc and WaveOne reciprocating instruments.
International Endodontic Journal.

Aim To evaluate the cyclic fatigue resistance of


Reciproc and WaveOne instruments in simulated
root canals.
Methodology Two groups of 15 NiTi endodontic
instruments of identical tip size of 0.25 mm were
tested, group A; Reciproc R25 and group B: WaveOne primary. Cyclic fatigue testing was performed in a
stainless steel artificial canal manufactured by reproducing the instruments size and taper. A simulated
root canal with a 60 angle of curvature and 5-mm
radius of curvature was constructed for both the
instruments tested. The centre of the curvature was
5 mm from the tip of the instrument and the curved
segment of the canal was approximately 5 mm in
length. The Reciproc instruments were activated
using the preset programme specific for the Reciproc
instruments, whilst the WaveOne instruments were

Introduction
The fracture of instruments used in rotary motion
occurs through two different mechanisms: fracture
caused by torsion and fracture caused by flexural
fatigue (Serene et al. 1995, Ullmann & Peters 2005,
Plotino et al. 2009a). Torsional fracture occurs when
an instrument tip or another part of the instrument

Correspondence: Dr Gianluca Plotino, Department of Endodontics, Sapienza University of Rome, Via Tommaso Salvini,
57 00197 Rome, Italy (Tel.: +393396910098; e-mail:
endo@gianlucaplotino.com).

2012 International Endodontic Journal

activated using the preset programme specific for the


WaveOne instruments. All instruments were rotated
until fracture occurred and the time to fracture (TtF)
and the length of the fractured tip were recorded and
registered. Means and standard deviations of TtF and
fragment length were calculated for each system and
data were subjected to Students t-test (P < 0.05).
Results A statistically significant difference (P < 0.05)
was noted between Reciproc and WaveOne instruments. Reciproc R25 instruments were associated with
a significant increase in the mean time to fracture when
compared with primary WaveOne instruments
(130.8 18.4 vs. 97.8 15.9 s). There was no significant difference (P > 0.05) in the mean length of the
fractured fragments between the instruments.
Conclusions Reciproc instruments were associated
with a significantly higher cyclic fatigue resistance
than WaveOne instruments.
Keywords: cyclic fatigue, nickeltitanium, reciprocation.
Received 28 October 2011; accepted 30 December 2011

becomes locked in a canal whilst the shank continues


to rotate. The tip fractures when handpiece torque
exceeds the elastic limit of the metal (Martn et al.
2003). Instruments fractured through excess torsional
loads often display signs of plastic deformation (Sattapan et al. 2000). The cyclic fatigue resistance of nickel
titanium rotary (NTR) files has been studied using
artificial root canals with a variety of features, for
example, the angle and radius of curvature, the
localization of the point of maximum curvature and
the type of artificial root canal (Pruett et al. 1997).
Subsequently, a new approach using only a ProTaper F2 instrument (Dentsply Maillefer, Ballaigues,

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Cyclic fatigue of reciprocating instruments Plotino et al.

Switzerland) in a reciprocating movement was introduced (Yared 2008), thereby presenting a new perspective for NiTi files. The employment of reciprocating
motion instead of the conventional continuous rotation
method was suggested as an advantage for the preparation of curved canals with the use of one single NiTi
file (De-Deus et al. 2010a, Franco et al. 2011, Paque
et al. 2011, You et al. 2011). The concept of using a
single NiTi instrument to prepare the entire root canal
is interesting, because the learning curve is considerably reduced as a result of technique simplification and
reduction of the endodontic armamentarium. Moreover, the use of a single NiTi instrument is likely to be
more cost-effective than the conventional multifile NiTi
rotary systems.
Recently, two different reciprocating systems were
introduced: Reciproc (VDW, Munich, Germany) and
WaveOne (Dentsply Maillefer, Ballaigues, Switzerland). The Reciproc clinical sequence, as suggested
by the manufacturer, is a single instrument technique
using one of the three files: R25 (tip size 25 with a taper
of 0.08 over the first apical millimitres), R40 (tip size 40
with a taper of 0.06 over the first apical millimitres),
R50 (tip size 50 with a taper of 0.05 over the first apical
millimitres). WaveOne NiTi files are available in three
sizes: small (tip size 21 with a taper of 0.06), primary
(tip size 25 with a taper of 0.08) and large (tip size 40
with a taper of 0.08). Both instruments are produced
with M-wire nickeltitanium, a new alloy produced in
an innovative thermal treatment process (Gambarini
et al. 2008). Reciproc and WaveOne instruments
have been designed specifically for use in reciprocation.
Both instruments have a left-handed angulation of the
blades, which means they cut in the counterclockwise
(CCW) direction. The values of clockwise (CW) and
CCW rotations are different. A large rotating angle in
the cutting direction (CCW) determines the instrument
advances in the canal and engages dentine to cut it,
whereas a smaller angle in the opposite direction (CW)
allows the file to be immediately disengaged and safely
progress along the canal path, whilst reducing the
effect of a screwing effect and file breakage. These
angles are specific for the different instruments and
they were determined using the torsional properties of
the instruments.
The reciprocating movement aims to minimize the
risk of instrument fracture caused by torsional stress:
the angle of CCW rotation is designed to be smaller
than the elastic limit of the instrument. On the other
hand, although those instruments complete one rotation of 360 in several reciprocating movements,

International Endodontic Journal

accumulation of metal fatigue remains a concern.


The aim of this study was to evaluate the cyclic fatigue
resistance of new Reciproc and WaveOne instruments in simulated root canals. The null hypothesis
tested is that no differences are present in the cyclic
fatigue resistance between the two instruments.

Materials and methods


Two groups of 15 NiTi endodontic instruments of
identical tip size of 0.25 mm were tested, Reciproc
R25 and WaveOne primary. All instruments were
inspected using an optical stereomicroscope with 20
magnification for morphologic analysis and for any
signs of visible deformation. All defective instruments
were discarded.
The cyclic fatigue testing device used in this study
has been described previously (Plotino et al. 2009b,
2010a,b,c). The device consists of a main frame to
which a mobile plastic support is connected for the
electric handpiece and a stainless steel block containing
the artificial canals. The electric handpiece is mounted
on a mobile device to allow precise and reproducible
placement of each instrument inside the artificial canal.
This ensured three-dimensional alignment and positioning of the instruments to the same depth. The
artificial canal was manufactured by reproducing the
instruments size and taper, thus providing the instrument with a suitable trajectory that conforms to the
parameters of the curvature chosen. A simulated root
canal with a 60 angle of curvature and 5-mm radius
of curvature was constructed for both the instruments
tested. The centre of the curvature was 5 mm from the
tip of the instrument and the curved segment of the
canal was approximately 5 mm in length.
The instruments were activated by using a 6 : 1
reduction handpiece (Sirona Dental Systems GmbH,
Bensheim, Germany) powered by a torque-controlled
motor (Silver Reciproc; VDW, Munich, Germany) using
the preset programme Reciproc ALL specific for the
Reciproc instruments and the preset programme
WaveOne ALL specific for the WaveOne instruments.
To reduce the friction of the file as it contacted the
artificial canal walls, a special high-flow synthetic oil
designed for lubrication of mechanical parts (Super Oil;
Singer Co Ltd, Elizabethport, NJ, USA) was applied. All
instruments were rotated until fracture occurred; the
time to fracture (TtF) was recorded visually using a 1/
100-s chronometer and registered to the nearest whole
number. The length of the fractured tip was also recorded
for each instrument. Means and standard deviations of

2012 International Endodontic Journal

Plotino et al. Cyclic fatigue of reciprocating instruments

Table 1 Mean time to fracture (TtF) standard deviation


(seconds) and mean fragment length SD (mm) of the
instruments tested
Reciproc R25
TtF
Fragment length

130.8 18.4
5.8 0.2

WaveOne primary
97.8 15.9b
6.1 0.1

Different superscript letters represent statistical significance.

TtF and fragment length were calculated for each system


and data were subjected to Students t-test with the
significance set at the 95% confidence level.

Results
Mean values and standard deviation expressed as TtF
are displayed in Table 1. A greater time to fracture is
caused by an enhanced resistance to cyclic fatigue. A
statistically significant difference (P < 0.05) was noted
between Reciproc and WaveOne instruments (Table 1). Reciproc R25 instruments were associated
with a significant increase in the mean time to fracture
when compared with primary WaveOne instruments
(130.8 18.4 vs. 97.8 15.9 s).
The mean length of the fractured segment was also
recorded to evaluate the correct positioning of the
tested instrument inside the canal curvature and
whether similar stresses were being induced. No
statistically significant difference (P > 0.05) in the
mean length of the fractured fragments was evident
for the instruments (Table 1).

Discussion
The two instruments used in the present study were
selected because they are to date the only commercially
available instruments designed specifically to be used in
reciprocating motion. The instruments have the same
nominal size, tip size 25 with 0.08 taper. Taper is
constant in the apical 3 mm of the instruments but
reduces in the middle and coronal portion of the
working part of the instrument.
The null hypothesis can be rejected, as Reciproc
instruments demonstrated a significantly higher cyclic
fatigue resistance than WaveOne instruments under
the conditions of the present study. It is well known that
cyclic fatigue is influenced by the dimensions of the
instruments (Plotino et al. 2006, 2007); in the present
study, the similar dimensions of the instruments tested
should have reduced this possible variability. Cyclic
fatigue can be also influenced by the alloy and/or the

2012 International Endodontic Journal

manufacturing process of the instruments (Gambarini


et al. 2008, 2011); in the present study, both instruments
were made by the same alloy produced with the same
proprietary thermal treatment (M-wire). Thus, even in
this case, different results between the instruments
should not be related to their metallurgical behaviour.
A possible difference between the two tested instruments can be the reciprocating movement, which is not
clearly disclosed by the manufacturers. It has been
shown that a reciprocating movement can affect and
improve cyclic fatigue resistance of NiTi instruments,
both ex vivo and in vivo (De-Deus et al. 2010b, VarelaPatino et al. 2010, You et al. 2010). According to the
manufacturer, Reciproc instruments are used at 10
cycles of reciprocation per second, the equivalent of
approximately 300 rpm, whilst no information is
available for WaveOne instruments. The authors
attempted to obtain more information about the two
different reciprocating movements, which are available
on the digital display of the motors used for Reciproc
and WaveOne (Silver Reciproc; VDW, Munich, Germany and WaveOne Motor, Dentsply Maillefer, Ballaigues, Switzerland). The two movements were filmed
and recorded with a digital videocamera and analysed
using a digital imaging software. Some variations in the
speed and in the angles between Reciproc and WaveOne instruments were obvious. It was not easy to
precisely determine the characteristics of the reciprocating movements of the motors and to exactly calculate the angles of CCW and CW movements of each
instrument using a digital videocamera. More sophisticated equipment is probably required to better visualize
and analyse these movements. However, because some
differences have been noted, it can be speculated that
these differences could play a role in the results obtained
in the present study. As this is a new research field, with
little or no data available in the dental literature, further
studies are needed to understand and evaluate the
angles and speed of reciprocation and their influence on
the cyclic fatigue resistance of these instruments.
Another possible explanation of the different results
obtained in the present study can be related to the
different cross-sectional design of the instruments
tested. Reciproc instruments have an S-shaped crosssection with two cutting blades that is similar to the
cross-section of the Mtwo NiTi rotary instruments
(Plotino et al. 2006). WaveOne instruments have a
modified convex triangular cross-section at the tip and
a convex triangular cross-section in the middle and
coronal portion of the instrument that is similar to the
cross-section of ProTaper instruments (Grande et al.

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Cyclic fatigue of reciprocating instruments Plotino et al.

2006). The influence of the cross-sectional design of a


NiTi instrument on its cyclic fatigue resistance is
controversial and has been the subject of a number of
recent investigations (Turpin et al. 2001, Biz & Figueiredo 2004, Diemer & Calas 2004, Chow et al. 2005).
However, how and why the design of the instrument
could influence their behaviour under cyclic fatigue
stress remains unclear. In fact, some studies found that
the fatigue life of various instruments did not seem to
be affected by the instrument design, suggesting that
the cross-sectional area or shape of the instrument is
not the main determinant of fatigue life (Melo et al.
2002, Cheung & Darvell 2007). Yet, other studies on
cyclic fatigue suggested that a different cross-sectional
design appeared to be an important determinant of
cyclic fatigue resistance of different files (Haikel et al.
1999, Grande et al. 2006, Tripi et al. 2006, Ray et al.
2007). However, in a previous study, Grande et al.
(2006) demonstrated that the metal mass at the point
of maximum stress influenced the lifespan of NiTi
rotary instruments during a cyclic fatigue test. The
authors compared the cyclic fatigue resistance of
Mtwo instruments, with a lower cross-sectional metal
mass, and ProTaper instruments, with a larger crosssectional metal mass, and reported that the bigger the
metal mass, the lower the fatigue resistance. These
results are consistent with those of the present study,
which showed that Reciproc instruments, with a
design similar to Mtwo, are more resistant than
WaveOne which has a cross-sectional design similar
to ProTaper.
It must be explained that the reciprocating movement is mainly aimed at reducing torsional loads and
consequently torsional failure, whilst the effect on
flexural stresses is probably less evident. To date, the
tested instruments are sold as a single use instrument,
avoiding metal weakening owing to prolonged clinical
use; however, single use means that the same
instrument can be used in 34 root canals, which
could be complex and tortuous. Therefore, single use
reduces but not eliminates the risk of accumulation of
metal fatigue and failure. Hence, it may be concluded
that testing cyclic fatigue of reciprocating instruments
is as valuable as testing cyclic fatigue of rotary
instruments.

Conclusions
Reciproc instruments resisted cyclic fatigue significantly more than WaveOne instruments; these differences could be related to the different cross-sectional

International Endodontic Journal

design and/or the different reciprocating movement of


the two instruments.

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