Introduction - Materials and methods.
R. J. G. De Moor & G. M. G. Hommez Department of Operative Dentistry and Endodontology, Dental School, University Hospital, University of Ghent, Ghent, Belgium.Introduction.
The provision of a well-compacted and tightly adapted root filling is one of the goals of root canal treatment. However, contemporary obturation techniques and filling materials do not seal completely the root canal system up to the level of the cemento-enamel junction. Moreover, it is accepted that both apical and coronal leakage can occur following apparently successful root canal treatment (Hovland & Dumsha 1985, Saunders & Saunders 1994a).
Several factors appear to influence the extent of both apical and coronal leakage. The influence of the smear layer on leakage has been evaluated and its removal has been advocated in order to reduce leakage (Kennedy et al . 1986, Taylor et al . 1997). Furthermore, various root canal filling techniques based on heated or preheated gutta-percha have been introduced in order to enhance complete filling of the root canal. These include warm vertical condensation (Schilder 1967), warm lateral condensation (Endotec 1986), thermatic compaction (McSpadden 1980), hybrid condensation, i.e. a combination of cold lateral condensation and thermomechanical compaction (Tagger et al . 1984), thermoplasticized gutta-percha as a coating on a flexible carrier ( Johnson 1978), and injection moulded thermoplasticized guttapercha (Yee et al . 1977). With all these techniques an endodontic sealer is recommended.
Evaluation of the long-term sealing ability of root canal sealers as a function of time and at various time intervals within the same experimental group has been limited (Gutmann et al . 1993, Saunders & Saunders 1994b, Wu et al . 1995, Kontakiotis et al . 1997). From these studies it is clear that there is a tendency for sealers to leak more as a function of time. When the performance of different sealers was compared (AH26, Ketac-Endo, Sealapex, Tubliseal, Roth, PCS-EWT), it has often been shown that AH26 performed better than the other root canal sealers (Wu et al . 1995, Kontakiotis et al . 1997).
However, there have been no studies on the long-term sealing ability of AH26 used in conjunction with various gutta-percha techniques. The aim of the present study was therefore to evaluate both coronal and apical leakage of root canals obturated by various techniques in combination with AH26. A second objective was to verify the findings of a previous study (De Moor & De Boever 2000) investigating the apical sealing ability of AH26. Materials and methods.
Seven hundred and ninety extracted human straight single-rooted teeth with mature apices were used in this study. Both carious (limited occlusal and/or interproximal lesions without pulp exposure) and non-carious teeth were included. All teeth were stored in 10% formalin until the sample was completed. In order to exclude teeth with multiple root canals, all teeth were radiographed from two angles before root canal treatment. Organic debris was removed by submerging the teeth in 2.5% sodium hypochlorite for 8 h. Subsequently, they were washed with tap water for 1 h, and stored in saline until used. Sample preparation.
The crowns were removed 2 mm above the cementoenamel junction with a high-speed fissure bur and water spray. After gross removal of pulp tissues, a size 10 Flexofile (Dentsply Maillefer, Ballaigues, Switzerland) was introduced into the canal until it could be seen in the major apical foramen. The working length was determined by subtracting 1 mm from this length. The root canals were prepared by means of a crown-down/stepback technique by one operator (De Moor & Martens 1999, De Moor & De Boever 2000). The coronal half of the root canals was preflared with Gates Glidden drills (Dentsply Maillefer) in a larger to smaller sequence (numbers 4-3-2) and the canals were copiously irrigated with 2.5% sodium hypochlorite solution with a 27- gauge endodontic needle (Monoject, Sherwood Medical, St Louis, MO, USA). Smear layer was removed using File- Eze (Ultradent Products Inc., South Jordan, UT, USA) during canal preparation. The apical half of the canal was then prepared with the step-back technique. The master file varied between size 35 and 45. The canals were dried with paper points and the patency of the apical foramen was confirmed with a size 10 Flexofile. The roots were randomly divided into 10 experimental groups of 75 roots each, 20 positive and 20 negative control roots. Following the drying with paper points, the canals were obturated by one of the following techniques. The access cavities in the groups selected for testing apical leakage were filled with Ketac-Fil (Espe, Seefeld, Germany). Group 1: cold lateral condensation of gutta-percha.
A standard size gutta-percha cone (Dentsply Maillefer) that matched the master apical file was fitted to the working length with tug back. AH26 sealer was mixed according to the manufacturer’s instructions and placed in the canal with a rotary paste filler to working length. The master cone was coated with AH26 and gently seated at the working length. Lateral condensation was then carried out using size 20 and 25 accessory gutta-percha cones with endodontic finger spreaders (Dentsply Maillefer) placed in the first instance to within 1 mm of the working length. The gutta-percha cones coated with sealer were laterally condensed until they could not be introduced more than 3 mm into the root canal.
Following obturation, the gutta-percha was removed from the coronal cavity up to the level of the cementoenamel junction with a warm instrument (PK Thomas Waxing Instrument, N PKT-2, Hu Friedy, Leimen, Germany) and vertically condensed with Machtou pluggers (Dentsply Maillefer). Group 2: warm vertical condensation of gutta-percha.
A standard size gutta-percha cone that matched the master apical file was fitted to the working length with tug back. AH26 sealer was mixed following the manufacturer’s instructions and placed in the canal with a rotary paste filler to working length. The master cone was coated with AH26 and gently seated at the working length. The coronal portion of the master cone was removed with red-hot heat carriers (PK Thomas Waxing Instrument, N PKT-1 and PKT-2, Hu Friedy, Leimen, Germany). The gutta-percha was then condensed in an apical direction with cold Machtou pluggers. This procedure was repeated until the apical 5 mm of the root canal remained filled with gutta-percha after condensation. The latter was verified by subtracting 5 mm from the working length and marking this length by means of a rubber stop on the Machtou plugger of appropriate size. Subsequently, segments of gutta-percha, 3–4 mm long, were attached to a slightly heated plugger and condensed apically into the root canal. To soften the gutta-percha, additional heat was transferred to the gutta-percha mass with heat carriers. In between the addition of the gutta-percha and heat transfer, cold prefitted pluggers were used for condensation of the gutta-percha to a homogeneous mass. This was continued until the entire root canal was packed. Group 3: hybrid condensation of gutta-percha.
The basis for the hybrid condensation technique was the same as for the cold lateral gutta-percha condensation, except that cold lateral condensation stopped when the apical 5 mm were condensed. Once this was achieved, a gutta-percha condenser (Dentsply Maillefer) of appropriate size was chosen. The size of the condensers varied between 25 and 40. The diameter of the condenser allowed insertion into the canal to at least a depth of 8 mm from the apical preparation. The condenser was then rotated without apical pressure (9000 r.p.m.). After 1 s the gutta-percha was plasticized and the condenser was carried apically up to 3 mm from the apical stop. The instrument was kept for 1 s at the desired level and gradually withdrawn, whilst rotating at full speed. Withdrawal speed was determined by the speed of the instrument itself. This obturation technique was a modification of the combined lateral condensation and thermatic compaction as described by Tagger et al . (1984). At the end of condensation, the gutta-percha was removed from the coronal cavity up to the level of the cementoenamel junction with a warm instrument and vertically condensed with Machtou pluggers. Group 4: Thermafil obturation.
The correct size of the plastic core Thermafil Obturator (Dentsply Maillefer) was selected using the verification kit. The obturators were then placed in the Therma-Prep oven (Dentsply Maillefer) according to the manufacturer’s instructions. AH26 was sparingly introduced into the coronal third of each canal using a rotary paste filler, after which the plasticized Thermafil device was inserted to the apical stop. The shank of each carrier was cut at the canal orifice using an inverted cone bur in a high-speed handpiece and the gutta-percha was compacted vertically with a plugger. Group 5: Soft-Core obturation.
The correct size of the plastic core Soft-Core (Soft-Core System Aps, Copenhagen, Denmark) obturator was selected using the Size Verifier. The obturators were then placed in the Soft-Core Oven (Soft-Core System). When the oven indicated that the obturator was ready, it was removed from one of the slots in the top of the oven. AH26 was sparingly introduced into the coronal third of each canal using the rotary paste filler, after which the plasticized Soft-Core device was inserted into the apical stop. The handle and insertion pin were removed by a twisting motion. Excess plastic core material was removed with a small inverted cone bur and any extra gutta-percha removed. The gutta-percha was then compacted vertically with a Machtou plugger. Controls.
In addition to the specimens in the experimental groups, the root canals of a further 40 teeth were prepared. The canals were not obturated in 20 of the teeth, but the coronal opening, as well as the apex, was covered with cyanoacrylate cement before all of the surfaces of the root were coated with two layers of nail varnish. These were the negative controls. In the remaining 20 teeth, the root canals were not obturated and sealed neither apically nor coronally prior to leakage testing. These were the positive controls. Staining, longitudinal splitting and dye measurement.
The samples were kept at 37 C in Vacutainers for 1 day, 1 week, and 4, 6 and 12 months in 80% relative humidity. Before storing the teeth, radiographs were taken from the buccal and the mesial side of every tooth. At the end of this period, the roots were covered with nail varnish. Clear acrylic nail varnish was applied to the entire tooth surface for the negative controls and all surfaces except the apical 2–3 mm for the teeth in the apical leakage testing group and the coronal opening in the coronal leakage testing group. The first coat was allowed to dry and a second coat was applied.
All teeth were immersed in a bath of India ink (Pelikan, Hannover, Germany) and stored at 37 C for 90 h, after which they were thoroughly washed with running water. The nail varnish was removed with a razor blade and the teeth soaked in acetone for 1 h to remove residues of nail varnish. The teeth were then air dried. Longitudinal shallow grooves were made on the buccal and lingual surface with a rotating diamond disk of small diameter under continuous water cooling, and the teeth carefully fractured and sectioned with a sharp chisel. Care was taken to include the apical foramen in the fracture line.
The degree of microleakage was determined by measuring
- the linear extent of India ink penetration from the apical end of the preparation (apical leakage testing) and
- the surface of the coronal gutta-percha at the level of the amelocemental junction to the position of the maximum dye penetration apically (coronal leakage testing).
To determine the most coronal (apical leakage testing) and apical (coronal leakage testing) point of linear leakage, two measurements were made. First, after splitting the roots, dye penetration was measured on the basis of dye visible on the gutta-percha filling material or root canal wall. Secondly, after the gutta-percha filling material was removed with an endodontic explorer, dye penetration was measured on the canal walls. The measurements of dye penetration were compared, and the larger one selected as the definitive point of linear dye leakage.
To eliminate bias, apical and coronal leakage were measured independently by two evaluators who were unaware of the obturation techniques used.
All measurements were obtained by means of a stereomicroscope (Stemi SR, Zeiss, Oberkochen, Germany) at x6 magnification with calibrated scale ocular.