One of the defining principles of my practice is investing in the correct tools. I never want to cut corners when it comes to the treatment I give my patients, and part of that is staying up-to-date on the tools that are available to me. That means taking advantage of technology like GentleWave, but it also means the simple stuff—like which types of root canal sealers to use. And, naturally, everyone always wants to know what the best root canal sealer is.
There are so many different options out there that it can be hard to figure out what to choose. Today, I’m sharing my two cents on root canal sealers, so you can make an educated decision on what to use in your practice.
Root Canal Sealers: The Basics
In dental school I learned that gutta percha doesn’t seal—sealer seals. Root canal sealer is necessary to close the space around your gutta percha all the way to the dentinal wall. Another function of root canal sealer is to fill in any gaps and voids, and to flow into and seal off lateral and accessory canals. Clearly, choosing a good sealer that works in your hand is imperative to your treatments’ success.
Before I share my thoughts on the best root canal sealers, let’s go back to dental school for a moment. Here are the properties of an ideal root canal sealer, as described by Grossman:
- Exhibits tackiness when mixed to provide good adhesion between it and the canal wall when set.
- Establishes a hermetic seal.
- Has radiopacity so that it can be seen on the radiograph.
- Is a very fine powder so it can mix easily with the liquid.
- Doesn’t cause shrinkage on setting.
- Doesn’t cause staining of tooth structure.
- Is bacteriostatic, or at least does not encourage bacterial growth.
- Exhibits a slow set.
- Is insoluble in tissue fluids.
- Is tissue tolerant, that is, non-irritating to periradicular tissue.
- Is soluble in common solvent if it is necessary to remove the root canal filling.
Now, are you ready to hear something crazy?
There is no sealer in existence that has 100% of these properties.
Most, if not all, sealers are toxic upon a fresh mix—but the toxicity decreases when it sets. This is why you should avoid over-extrusion of your sealer. (I always love a good sealer puff, but we shouldn’t overdo it!)
Now, let’s take a look at the different types of sealers out there.
My Preferred Root Canal Sealers
There’s a huge variety of root canal sealers available to dentists today. You can find zinc oxide-eugenol sealers, glass ionomer sealers, resin sealers, and bioceramic sealers, but those are just a few of your options. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s no wonder!
Right now, the root canal sealer that I use is AH Plus—an epoxy resin sealer. Specifically, I use Ribbon Root Canal Sealer by Dentsply Sirona, but you can find the same formulation with AH Plus by Dentsply Maillefer. Now, keep in mind that this is different from AH-26, which released formaldehyde while it was setting.
I’ve been using AH Plus/Ribbon for well over a decade, and I’ve been very happy with it. I love the way it flows—I’m always sure that it goes into those little voids around my obturation material, and I’ve seen it flow into lateral canals over and over again.
It has great adhesion and is radiopaque, which makes my fills look dense and makes it easy to remove if I ever have to retreat my own case.
One drawback is that it does shrink upon setting, but overall, I’ve had a great experience using it.
All that being said, bioceramics are the new hot thing on the market, and I’ve been shifting to use BC sealers in my practice… but more on that below.
But, just because I use a specific product doesn’t mean you need to run out and make any changes. You might even want to use different sealers in different situations.
So, let’s talk about the rest of the types of root canal sealers out there so that you can make the most educated decision possible for what to use in your practice.
Other Root Canal Sealers
Dentists have used zinc oxide-eugenol root canal sealers for years, with a lot of success. The major benefit of a zinc oxide sealer is that it will resorb if it has overextended into the periapical tissues. It also exhibits antimicrobial activity; however, it can lead to staining in some tooth structures.
Examples of zinc-oxide based sealers include Roth’s Sealer, Tubliseal, and Pulp Canal Sealer EWT. This sealer’s resorption qualities make it a great choice if the apex of the tooth is close to a vital structure such as the inferior alveolar nerve.
Calcium Hydroxide Based Sealers
Manufacturers developed calcium hydroxide root canal sealers because they thought they would be able to create antimicrobial activity. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen this effect demonstrated, since the material needs to be soluble in order to release the calcium hydroxide—and that would defeat the purpose of your sealer!
This type of sealer also resorbs well over time. An example of a calcium hydroxide sealer would be Sealapex—which is actually the sealer that I became familiar with in dental school many years ago!
Glass Ionomer Sealers
Glass ionomer sealers were all the rage when I was an endodontic resident, but this trend has fizzled since then. The main reason why these were so popular back in the day is because of their dentin-bonding properties.
Unfortunately, these sealers’ setting properties deep down into those canals are questionable, at best. They have no antimicrobial activity, and are difficult to remove in case of a retreatment. Ketac-Endo is one example of a glass ionomer sealer.
Bioceramics entered the scene during the 1990s, but their newest generation gives them some good flow. These sealers have become popular because they’ve revived the use of a single cone obturation.
I’ve been using the AH Plus Bioceramic Sealer and the EndoSequence BC Sealer HiFlow by Brasseler, and I’m enjoying them! It doesn’t show the type of discoloration of teeth that some bioceramic products do. It can also be used for warm vertical obturation, which I love, since I don’t do a single cone obturation. I like to use this sealer in certain situations, especially when I am dealing with resorption in the middle to apical third of a canal and I want to make sure those areas have a good seal with something that won’t resorb over time.
There are pros and cons to any type of sealer, and bioceramic sealers are no exception. The great part of it is that they’re extremely biocompatible. When there’s sealer extrusion, this is absolutely important.
Instead of getting a shrinkage of the sealer, you’ll see a slight expansion—around 0.2%. This reduces gaps and voids in your obturation and gives you a better hermetic seal. This method also means that your gutta percha’s purpose changes—it’s meant to force your sealer into the small crevices, as well as keeping a soft core in the middle in case of a retreatment. In the past, we wanted to have more gutta percha and less sealer in our obturations, but bioceramic sealers necessitate less gutta percha and more sealer.
Once set, they won’t show much resorption, so be careful not to over-extrude your sealer. A downside to bioceramic root canal sealers is that they make retreatment very difficult because it really hardens—you might need to save a tooth from a surgical retreatment method. The best way to avoid this is to make sure that your disinfection protocol is flawless.
Which Types of Root Canal Sealers are the Best?
The answer is that there’s no perfect sealer out there, and oftentimes you’ll need to choose which one you use based on the case you have in front of you. The sealers I have in my practice are Ribbon Root Canal Sealer and EndoSequence BC Sealer. I use the Ribbon sealer the most, but I am slowly shifting to the BC sealer, and I adapt when necessary, depending on what’s going on with the tooth.
As in everything else in the world of endodontics, you’ll probably need to do some experimentation to figure out what the best root canal sealer is for you!
Which types of root canal sealers have you tried out? Which do you like the best? Let me know in the comments section!
I requested a “generic” version of a Bioceramics sealer and was provided with Gibson Healthcare MTA Bioceramics root canal sealer the indications appear to be more for dentin repair treatment, really mentions nothing for sealing gutta percha for obturation. Do you agree this is not the indication for this material or can it be used as a root canal sealer?
Sorry Marisol, I am not familiar with that product.
My experience is
A dressing with metapex for1 to 2 weeks &
Then Sealapex as sealer with gutta percha
is 99% successful in all types of Root Canal Treatments.
I am so use to seal apex and I like it.Earlier I have used AH plus but my patients had postoperative symptoms.
There is no right or wrong answer with this topic. Glad you found what works best for you.
I recently purchased Gibson MTA Bioceramics root canal sealer. However, the indications seem to be for dentin repair vs. an actual root canal sealer. Would this be acceptable to use as a Bioceramics sealer or not the appropriate material?
I am so sorry, I am not familiar with that material, but I am sure the rep would have an easy answer for you.
Hi Dr. Sonia,
I was using Tubliseal EWT, but I felt like the sealer sets fast in the canal and sometimes blocks the GP from going to full WL. I used to end up in short obturations. Now I am using AH plus and I am happy with it. Good to know that you are using Ribbon which is same as AH plus.
I love it! That’s funny to hear, since EWT stands for Extended Working Time. But, I am glad you were able to pivot and make your sealer work for you.
Can you use Endo eze MTA flow by Ultradent as a sealer? I know it a repair cement, but somewhere I had read you could use it as a sealer.
I am not sure, I would call the Ultradent rep and ask that question. I haven’t used it that way. Hope that helps.
What do you think about EndoSeal MTA?
I haven’t used this sealer. I have been so happy with the ones that I have tried and mentioned in the blog.
endoseal MTA is excellent sealer.good sealing effect and no post operative pain
Thanks for your feedback.
Dr. C-do you inject the Ribbon directly or butter the cone for obturation? That’s what we have in residency and I’m still learning how it handles.
I currently do not inject my sealer, but I know several endodontists that do.
Dear Sonia, have you ever tried the recently launched PD Dental sealer, EssenSeal, a ZOE one, but in which the Eugenol contains Tea Tree Oil, which gives impacting anti inflammatory and anti bacterial properties. I would be happy to have your feedback.
Sorry I have not tried it in order to give you any feedback.
…you didn’t mention about resin based sealer…please mam if you can share something about resin based sealer?
AH Plus is an epoxy resin and is what I currently use. I will see if I can make a future blog on your topic. Thank you.
Hell Dr. Chopra,
Nearly two years ago your article indicates you were using AH plus/Ribbon. I see that Dentsply is advertising a new product so I researched it the best I could online and thru the company’s website finding out very little. I just contacted the technical/sales department to ask the difference between AH plus in the tubes which I have used for 15 or 20 years and AH plus jet and AH plus ceramic. The only information they could give me was that AH plus jet and Ribbon are the same and that AH plus ceramic is newest. How does a professional get reliable information about products when the manufacturers can’t even describe their products in technical terms and not A.) “_______ sealer is used by most doctors so this might be what you will want to also use” or B.)”We make three sealers, they are all good.” For me, the tube tends to crack before expiration leaving half of the material inside the tube unused. Is it just best to stick with what works for me and not experiment with new things so that one or more of my hapless patients don’t end up with less than excellent results? If so, how can we ever achieve progress? Thank you for your insight. It is the most valuable article/information I have received yet.
I think this is a perfect reason to go to trade shows or have a good relationship with you Dentsply rep. They will most certainly help you. I use Ribbon sealer with the self mixing dispenser and I love it, but I am about to try their new bioceramic version to see how I like it. I will keep you posted.
Hello Dr. Chopra, I worked with guttacore for quiet a little while so the sealant shrinkage was not a big concern of mine. I have started working in a practice that uses SEALAPEX. Now as far as I’m aware when doing hydraulic condensation/single cone technique you are supposed to use a bioceramic sealer since there is no shrinkage. I do know some providers will use single cone technique even when the sealer is not a bioceramic sealer. What are your thoughts on this ? Any sealers you would consider safe to use without using vertical condensation? Would you recommend using vertical condensation when using SEALAPEX and avoiding any other forms of condensation with this sealant ? Thanks in advance .
I am a huge fan of Ribbon sealer, AKA AHPlus with warm vertical condensation. Sealapex I don’t find to be too effective no matter how you use it. The trend is now to go with more sealer and less gutta percha when using a bioceramic sealer, but I am still loving my AHPLus. It will take me some time to fully convert, but I am testing it. I just love warm vertical because it gives you so much versatility in your obturation.