The topography of instrumented and uninstrumented canal walls exposed to calcium hydroxide and four different irrigation regimens was observed by scanning electron microscopy. After chemomechanical debridement, one tooth in each matched pair was medicated with calcium hydroxide. One week later, the teeth were irrigated and split longitudinally for evaluation. When no calcium hydroxide was used, predentin and pulpal debris covered the dentinal tubules of the uninstrumented surfaces in specimens irrigated with water or EDTA, but was absent on uninstrumented surfaces in specimens irrigated with NaOCl or NaOCl and EDTA. A typical smear layer was absent in instrumented specimens irrigated with NaOCl and EDTA, but covered the dentinal tubules of the instrumented surfaces of the EDTA irrigated specimens (partially) and the water or NaOCl irrigated specimens (completely). Calcospherites or their remnants were seen on the uninstrumented canal walls of specimens irrigated with NaOCl or NaOCl and EDTA, respectively. Calcium hydroxide use did not alter the surface topography in specimens irrigated with water, EDTA, or NaOCl, but seemed to erode the intertubular dentin in specimens irrigated with NaOCl and EDTA. All irrigants seemed to effectively remove most of the calcium hydroxide.
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