Contamination Controls for Analysis of Root Canal Samples by Molecular Methods: An Overlooked and Unsolved Problem

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It has been almost 20 years since molecular methods were first described for the analysis of root canal microbial flora. Contamination control samples are essential to establish DNA decontamination before taking root canal samples, and this review assessed those studies.


Using PubMed, a search was conducted for studies using molecular microbial analysis for the investigation of endodontic samples. Studies were grouped according to the cleaning protocol, acquisition methods, and processing of control samples taken to check for contamination.


Of 136 studies applying molecular analysis to root canal samples, 21 studies performed surface cleaning and checking nucleotide decontamination with contamination control samples processed by polymerase chain reaction. Only 1 study described disinfection, sampling from the access cavity, and processing by polymerase chain reaction and reported the result; that study reported that all samples contained contaminating bacterial DNA.


Cleaning, disinfection, and checking for contamination are basic scientific prerequisites for this type of investigation; yet, this review identifies it as an overlooked issue. On the basis of this review, we call for improved scientific practice in this field.

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