root canal sealers

Root canal treatment is a common dental procedure aimed at removing infected pulp tissue and sealing the canal to prevent further infection. A crucial component of this procedure is the root canal sealer, which works alongside gutta-percha to fill the voids within the root canal system. An ideal root canal sealer should have excellent sealing ability, biocompatibility, and should not shrink over time. Various types of root canal sealers are available, each with unique properties and advantages. This article provides a detailed comparison of different types of root canal sealers, including zinc oxide-eugenol sealers, calcium hydroxide sealers, resin-based sealers, glass ionomer sealers, and bioceramic sealers.


Zinc Oxide-Eugenol Sealers

Zinc oxide-eugenol (ZOE) sealers have been used in endodontics for decades. They are composed of zinc oxide powder mixed with eugenol, which forms a paste. This type of sealer is known for its antibacterial properties due to the presence of eugenol.



  • Antibacterial Effect
  • Sealing Ability
  • Handling Properties


Antibacterial Effect

Eugenol provides significant antibacterial properties, which can help in reducing the bacterial load within the canal.

Sealing Ability

ZOE sealers exhibit good sealing properties, ensuring that the canal is well-sealed to prevent microleakage.

Handling Properties

These sealers are easy to handle and manipulate during the procedure.



  • Tissue Irritation
  • Solubility
  • Shrinkage


Tissue Irritation

Eugenol can be irritating to periapical tissues, which may cause postoperative discomfort.


ZOE sealers tend to be more soluble in tissue fluids compared to other sealers, potentially compromising the long-term seal.


Over time, these sealers may shrink, leading to gaps and potential leakage.


Clinical Application

ZOE sealers are widely used in routine endodontic procedures. However, their use is declining due to the advent of newer materials with better biocompatibility and lower solubility.


Calcium Hydroxide Sealers

Calcium hydroxide sealers consist of calcium hydroxide powder mixed with a liquid carrier. They are known for their high pH, which gives them antimicrobial properties and promotes hard tissue formation.



  • Antimicrobial Properties
  • Biocompatibility
  • Stimulates Hard Tissue Formation


Antimicrobial Properties

The high pH of calcium hydroxide is effective against a wide range of microorganisms.


These sealers are generally well-tolerated by periapical tissues and promote healing.

Stimulates Hard Tissue Formation

Calcium hydroxide can stimulate the formation of dentin bridges and periapical hard tissue, which is beneficial in cases of root resorption.



  • Solubility
  • Weak Adhesion
  • Handling Difficulty



Calcium hydroxide sealers are highly soluble, which can compromise the seal over time.

Weak Adhesion

They do not adhere well to dentin, which can result in microleakage.

Handling Difficulty

These sealers can be more difficult to handle compared to other types.


Clinical Application

Calcium hydroxide sealers are often used in cases where there is a need to promote healing or in younger patients where the formation of hard tissue is desired. However, their high solubility limits their long-term effectiveness.


Resin-Based Sealers

Resin-based sealers are made from epoxy resins or methacrylate resins. They are known for their excellent adhesion to dentin and their ability to form a strong seal.



  • Excellent Adhesion
  • Low Solubility
  • Good Handling Properties


Excellent Adhesion

These sealers bond well to dentin, minimizing the risk of microleakage.

Low Solubility

Resin-based sealers are less soluble in tissue fluids, ensuring a long-lasting seal.

Good Handling Properties

They are relatively easy to handle and provide good working time.



  • Biocompatibility Concerns
  • Polymerization Shrinkage
  • Difficulty in Removal


Biocompatibility Concerns

Some resin-based sealers can be irritating to periapical tissues.

Polymerization Shrinkage

There is a risk of shrinkage during polymerization, which can compromise the seal.

Difficulty in Removal

If retreatment is necessary, resin-based sealers can be difficult to remove.


Clinical Application

Resin-based sealers are commonly used in endodontic procedures due to their excellent sealing properties and durability. They are especially preferred in cases where a strong bond and long-lasting seal are critical.


Glass Ionomer Sealers

Glass ionomer sealers are composed of a blend of glass powder and polyacrylic acid. They set through an acid-base reaction and release fluoride ions, which can help in preventing secondary caries.



  • Fluoride Release
  • Adhesion
  • Biocompatibility


Fluoride Release

The release of fluoride can have a cariostatic effect, protecting the tooth from future decay.


Glass ionomer sealers bond well to dentin, providing a good seal.


These sealers are generally well-tolerated by the surrounding tissues.



  • Moisture Sensitivity
  • Brittleness
  • Handling Properties


Moisture Sensitivity

They can be sensitive to moisture during setting, which can affect their performance.


Glass ionomer sealers can be brittle and prone to fracture.

Handling Properties

They can be more challenging to handle compared to other sealers.


Clinical Application

Glass ionomer sealers are often used in pediatric dentistry and in cases where fluoride release is beneficial. However, their brittleness and moisture sensitivity limit their widespread use in endodontics.


Bioceramic Sealers

Bioceramic sealers are composed of calcium silicate, calcium phosphate, and other biocompatible materials. They are designed to be bioactive and promote healing.



  • Biocompatibility
  • Dimensional Stability
  • Antibacterial Properties



Bioceramic sealers are highly biocompatible and promote healing and regeneration of periapical tissues.

Dimensional Stability

These sealers do not shrink upon setting, ensuring a stable and long-lasting seal.

Antibacterial Properties

Bioceramic sealers have intrinsic antibacterial properties due to their high pH during the setting reaction.



  • Cost
  • Handling Properties
  • Setting Time



Bioceramic sealers tend to be more expensive compared to other types.

Handling Properties

They can be more challenging to handle, requiring specific techniques for application.

Setting Time

Some bioceramic sealers have longer setting times, which can prolong the procedure.


Clinical Application

Bioceramic sealers are increasingly used in modern endodontics due to their excellent biocompatibility and sealing properties. They are particularly useful in cases where healing and tissue regeneration are critical.


Comparative Analysis

  • Sealing Ability and Longevity
  • Biocompatibility
  • Antibacterial Properties
  • Handling and Application
  • Cost-Effectiveness


Sealing Ability and Longevity

When comparing the sealing ability and longevity of different root canal sealers, resin-based and bioceramic sealers tend to outperform others due to their strong adhesion and low solubility. ZOE and calcium hydroxide sealers, while effective initially, may compromise the seal over time due to their higher solubility and potential for shrinkage.


Bioceramic sealers are the most biocompatible, promoting healing and tissue regeneration. Calcium hydroxide sealers also have good biocompatibility, though their high solubility can be a drawback. ZOE sealers can cause tissue irritation, and some resin-based sealers may also have biocompatibility issues.

Antibacterial Properties

ZOE, calcium hydroxide, and bioceramic sealers all have notable antibacterial properties. ZOE sealers benefit from the antibacterial effect of eugenol, while calcium hydroxide and bioceramic sealers have high pH levels that are hostile to bacteria.

Handling and Application

Resin-based sealers are generally easier to handle and provide good working time. ZOE sealers are also user-friendly, whereas calcium hydroxide, glass ionomer, and bioceramic sealers can be more challenging to manipulate.


ZOE and calcium hydroxide sealers are relatively inexpensive, making them cost-effective options. Resin-based sealers are moderately priced, while bioceramic sealers are typically the most expensive.



Selecting the appropriate root canal sealer depends on various factors, including the clinical situation, the properties required, and the practitioner’s preference. Resin-based and bioceramic sealers are preferred for their excellent sealing properties and biocompatibility, despite their higher cost. ZOE and calcium hydroxide sealers, while still in use, are gradually being replaced by newer materials that offer better long-term outcomes. Glass ionomer sealers, with their unique fluoride-releasing property, serve a niche role, especially in pediatric dentistry.

Advancements in material science continue to improve the performance of root canal sealers, aiming to enhance their biocompatibility, sealing ability, and ease of use. Future developments may bring about new sealers that combine the best features of existing materials, further improving the success rates of root canal treatments.

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