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The aim of this study was to evaluate the influence of the smear layer on the antimicrobial activity of a 2.5% sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl)/9% etidronic acid (HEBP) irrigating solution against bacteria growing inside dentin tubules.Dentin tubules were infected with Enterococcus faecalis by centrifugation. After 5 days of incubation, the smear layer had formed in half of the samples, which were then treated with 2.5% NaOCl either alone or combined with 9% HEBP for 3 minutes. The percentage of dead cells in infected dentinal tubules was measured using confocal laser scanning microscopy and the live/dead technique. The smear layer on the surface of the root canal wall was also observed by scanning electron microscopy. Results of the percentage of dead cells were compared using parametric tests after subjecting data to the normalized Anscombe transformation. The level of significance was P < .05.In the absence of the smear layer, 2.5% NaOCl alone and combined with 9% HEBP showed high antimicrobial activity without significant differences between the 2. The smear layer reduced the antimicrobial activity of 2.5% NaOCl significantly, whereas the solution with HEBP was not affected. No dentin tubules free of the smear layer were obtained in the 2.5% NaOCl group. In the case of 2.5% NaOCl/9% HEBP, 95.40% ± 3.63% of dentin tubules were cleaned.The presence of the smear layer reduced the antimicrobial activity of 2.5% NaOCl. The combination of 2.5% NaOCl/9% HEBP exerted antimicrobial activity that was not reduced by the smear layer.The smear layer reduces the antimicrobial activity of 2.5% NaOCl.The antimicrobial activity of 2.5% NaOCl/9% HEBP is not affected by the smear layer.