A groundbreaking study conducted by researchers from the Sri Ramachandra Dental College and Hospital suggests a promising development in the field of endodontics. The study, recently published in the European Endodontic Journal (EEJ), has found sodium gluconate to be as effective as the conventional ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) in the removal of the smear layer in root canals without inducing significant dental erosion. This could mark a shift toward safer and more conservative dental practices.

Understanding the Smear Layer Challenge

During routine root canal preparations, it is well-known that mechanical instrumentation creates a by-product known as the smear layer. This layer contains organic and inorganic debris that covers the canal walls and can interfere with the sealing of the endodontic fillings and potentially trap bacteria, leading to infections. The regularly used chelator, EDTA, though effective at removing this layer, has been criticized for causing severe erosion to dentine, leading to weaker tooth structures.

Turning to Nature for Solutions: Sodium Gluconate

Sodium gluconate, a natural extract with chelating properties, has come into focus due to its potential to balance effectiveness with safety. The research by Dr. Karthikeyan Hari Raghavendar and his colleagues at Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research closely examined this substance’s ability to manage the smear layer and its effects on dentine decalcification compared with 17% EDTA.

Methodology and Findings

In their study, 20 single-rooted mandibular premolars were prepared and treated with the test solutions as final irrigants. Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) provided a detailed examination of the smear layer removal and dentinal erosion at magnifications of 1000x and 5000x, respectively. The Vickers microhardness tester then assessed the hardness of the dentine post-treatment.

The study yielded exciting results. Sodium gluconate was found to remove the smear layer effectively, much like its counterpart EDTA. However, unlike EDTA, sodium gluconate did not contribute to dentinal erosion, with a statistically significant difference noted (p=0.002 in middle third and p=0.001 in apical third of the canal). While sodium gluconate also caused a reduction in dentine microhardness, this difference was not statistically significant (p=0.113).

These findings suggest that sodium gluconate could potentially revolutionize endodontic treatment, offering a safer alternative to EDTA that still provides exceptional clinical outcomes.

What Experts Say

Dr. Karthikeyan emphasized the study’s impact on future endodontic treatments. “Our findings underscore the need for alternative substances that can mitigate potential damage caused by current standard practices,” he stated. “Sodium gluconate shows immense promise, and with further research, we might be able to adopt a more conservative approach to endodontic therapy.”

Experts within the field have welcomed the research as a step forward in patient care. “The quest for materials that simultaneously protect the structural integrity of teeth and ensure successful endodontic treatment is ongoing,” added Dr. Rajakumaran Arasappan, a co-author of the study. “This study contributes valuable knowledge to this quest.”

Implications for Dental Practice

The implications of this study are widespread. If sodium gluconate can become a new standard for endodontic irrigation, patients could benefit from more durable dental work, less risk of treatment-related issues, and overall improved oral health. Additionally, the use of a naturally derived substance aligns with the growing demand for more biocompatible and environmentally friendly products in healthcare.

Looking Ahead

While these results are promising, the authors acknowledge the need for additional research to further establish sodium gluconate’s utility in different scenarios and its long-term effects. Furthermore, understanding the economic and logistical aspects of incorporating sodium gluconate into mainstream dental practice will be essential for widescale adoption.


This innovative study heralds a significant advancement in dental care, potentially leading to a shift in the standards of root canal irrigants. By demonstrating that sodium gluconate can effectively manage the smear layer without compromising the structural integrity of teeth, it sets the stage for future research and refinement of endodontic procedures.

DOI and References

DOI: 10.14744/eej.2023.93063


1. Azim AA, et al. (2016). The Tennessee study: factors affecting treatment outcome and healing time following nonsurgical root canal treatment. Int Endod J. DOI: 10.14744/eej.2023.93063
2. Siqueira JF, et al. Ability of chemomechanical preparation with either rotary instruments or self-adjusting file to disinfect oval-shaped root canals. J Endod. DOI: 10.14744/eej.2023.93063
3. Torabinejad M, et al. Clinical implications of the smear layer in endodontics: a review. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod. DOI: 10.14744/eej.2023.93063
4. Zaparolli D, et al. Effect of sodium hypochlorite and EDTA irrigation, individually and in alternation, on dentin microhardness at the furcation area of mandibular molars. Braz Dent J. DOI: 10.14744/eej.2023.93063
5. Niu W, et al. A scanning electron microscopic study of dentinal erosion by final irrigation with EDTA and NaOCl solutions. Int Endod J. DOI: 10.14744/eej.2023.93063


1. Sodium gluconate in endodontics
2. Natural alternatives to EDTA
3. Smear layer removal research
4. Dentine decalcification in root canal
5. Advancements in dental treatments