To quantify bacterial equivalents before and after chemomechanical preparation using 3% sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl) and intracanal dressing with calcium hydroxide paste (Ca(OH)2) or 2% Chlorhexidine digluconate gel (CHX) in necrotic pulps associated or not with apical periodontitis and to further compare this quantification with counts of anaerobic microorganisms.
Prospective clinical trial in 69 single-rooted adult teeth (strict inclusion criteria); CHX group: 34; Ca(OH)2 group: 35. Bacteria samples were taken at baseline (S1), after chemomechanical preparation (S2) and after 14 days of intracanal dressing (S3). Bacterial equivalents were assessed by broad-range real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), and live viable bacteria measured with conventional anaerobic culture (CFU/mL). Descriptive/inferential analysis was performed with spss vs. 20.0 (α = 0.05) using the Kruskal–Wallis, Mann–Whitney and chi-squared tests and Spearman's correlation coefficients.
Both groups showed a significant decrease between S1 and S2 (Mann–Whitney U-test; P < 0.001) both in qPCR and in culture. In the Ca(OH)2-group, no variation was observed between S2 and S3 by qPCR and culture. In contrast, the CHX group showed a significant increase from S2 to S3 by both techniques. The two groups were only significantly different in S3 (Mann–Whitney U-test; P ≤ 0.001), with a worse performance in the CHX group. Again, these results were congruent by both approaches. Data from both approaches correlate reasonably (rS < 0.5).
Infected root canals contained a high bacterial load, and the chemomechanical root canal preparation reduced bacterial equivalents by 99.1% and anaerobic counts by 98.5%. Intracanal dressings were not efficient at reducing bacterial load, but the 14-day intracanal dressing with Ca(OH)2 performed significantly better than CHX, particularly in cases with apical periodontitis.