From a dentists’ perspective, the word gutta percha immediately makes us think of endodontic obturation. However, going back to history, use of this material can be traced for diverse purposes. Evolution of this material and its current usage in dentistry has come a long way. Ever since its introduction as an obturative material for obliterating the root canal space, gutta percha, in its various forms, has proven to be extremely versatile.
Gutta percha is essentially a dried, coagulated sap of a peculiar species of tropical plants. This sap was first obtained from sapotaceae family of trees, which are abundant in the Malay peninsula (south east asia). The name “gutta percha” comes from the plant’s name in Malay- getah perca, meaning “percha sap”. Most of the plants yielding gutta percha belong to the natural order of sapotaceae, the most important being Dichopsis Gutta or Isonandra Gutta, also known as Palaquium Gutta.
These trees are medium to tall (approx. 30meters) in height, and up to 1meter in trunk diameter. A series of “V” shaped or concentric cuts are made in the trunk to obtain the juice, which is processed by chemical coagulation method or Obach’s technique (flocculation with industrial gasoline and then deresinated) , before it is mixed with fillers for dental use.