Objective: Spacers are commonly placed between the canal
orifice and the temporary material between endodontic treatment
appointments. This prevents the temporary restoration
material from obstructing the canal orifices and allows for easy
removal. Various endodontic spacers are currently used, including
polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) tape. Previous in-vitro studies
have demonstrated the advantages of using PTFE over using
cotton; however, no in-vivo studies have demonstrated this.
Hence, the purpose of this study was to evaluate which spacer
showed less bacterial leakage between endodontic treatments.
Method and Materials: Fifty patients participated in the
study and were randomly assigned to either the cotton or the
PTFE group. Root canal treatments were completed in two
appointments. Cotton and PTFE spacers were collected after a
2- to 4- week time interval between the first and second appointments. Samples were incubated on agar plates for 48 hours and
then evaluated for presence of microbial growth. Colony forming
units (CFUs) were counted for each of the samples. The
results were analyzed using nonparametric statistical tests.
Results: Fifteen of the 24 cotton spacers and two of the 24 PTFE
spacers were positive for bacterial growth. Conclusion: Cotton
fibers exposed to the oral environment could potentially wick
contaminants into the pulp chamber. The tendency of cotton to
distort under masticatory forces may allow disruption of the
temporary material’s marginal seal. Based on the results of this
study, the use of PTFE is strongly recommended over cotton as
an endodontic spacer material. PTFE performed better than cotton
in this in-vivo microbial study.