The Effect of Sodium Hypochlorite and Chlorhexidine as Irrigant Solutions for Root Canal Disinfection: A Systematic Review of Clinical Trials

Journal  of Endodontics


  • Of the 172 potential articles, only 4 randomized clinical trials and 1 nonrandomized clinical trial were included in this systematic review.
  • The laboratory methods used to evaluate root canal disinfection were heterogeneous among studies (culture techniques and molecular methods).
  • The 5 studies compared sodium hypochlorite and chlorhexidine by collecting samples from the root canal before and after the protocol treatments.
  • Randomization was conducted in 4 of the 5 studies.
  • There was a lack of agreement between the findings of the selected studies.



This systematic review aimed to compare the effectiveness of sodium hypochlorite and chlorhexidine for root canal disinfection during root canal therapy.


A literature search for clinical trials was made on the PubMed (MEDLINE), Web of Knowledge, SCOPUS, and Science Direct databases and in the reference lists of the identified articles up to January 2015. Quality assessment of the selected studies was performed according to the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials statement.


One clinical trial and 4 randomized clinical trials were selected from the 172 articles initially identified. There was heterogeneity in the laboratory methods used to assess the root canal disinfection as well as in the concentrations of the irrigants used. Therefore, meta-analysis was not performed. Two studies reported effective and similar reductions in bacterial levels for both irrigants. Sodium hypochlorite was more effective than chlorhexidine in reducing microorganisms in 1 study, and another reported opposite findings. Both root irrigants were ineffective in eliminating endotoxins from necrotic pulp root canals in 1 study. Trial design and information regarding randomization procedures were not clearly described in the clinical trials. No study compared laboratory results with clinical outcomes.


The available evidence on this topic is scarce, and the findings of studies were not consistent. Additional randomized clinical trials using clinical outcomes to compare the use of sodium hypochlorite and chlorhexidine during root canal therapy are needed.


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