The importance of an intact layer of cementum on the root surface in preventing bacterial penetration into radicular dentin has not been sufficiently investigated. The aim of this in vitro study was to determine the effect of the absence of cementum from the root surface and the length of the infection period (2 or 4 weeks) on the maximum depth of bacterial penetration and the percentage of sectors lined with bacteria.Methods:
Sound, single-rooted extracted teeth with closed apices were randomly assigned to either a control group (cementum present [CP]) or an experimental group (cementum removed [CR]). Each group was further divided randomly into 2 subgroups: 2-week infection (CP2 and CR2) and 4-week infection (CP4 and CR4). Teeth were then artificially infected with Enterococcus faecalis and prepared for histology.Results:
A total of 107 teeth were available for histologic examination, 25 teeth in CP2, 31 teeth in CP4, 27 teeth in CR2, and 24 teeth in CR4. Pairwise comparisons revealed statistically significant differences in the maximum depth of bacterial penetration for the following combinations: CP2-CR2, CP2-CR4, CP4-CR2, and CP4-CR4 (P < .001). Pairwise comparisons also revealed a statistically significant difference in the percentage of sectors lined with bacteria for CP2-CR2, CP2-CP4, and CP2-CR4 (P < .001).Conclusions:
The results support the hypothesis that the absence of cementum facilitates bacterial penetration into dentinal tubules. Results also suggest that the process of radicular dentin infection is time dependent and highlight the importance of early treatment of infected teeth, especially in situations in which cementum discontinuity is suspected.