The purpose of this in vitro study was to evaluate the antimicrobial effectiveness of chloroform on Enterococcus faecalis when used as a gutta-percha solvent during endodontic retreatment. Bilaterally matched human teeth were instrumented, infected with E. faecalis, and obturated. The gutta-percha was then removed using either chloroform or saline. Bacterial samples were collected after gutta-percha removal and following additional apical enlargement. A significant difference was seen (p < 0.05) between the number of colony forming units (CFU) of E. faecalis for teeth retreated using chloroform (mean 21 + 56 CFU/ml) versus saline (mean 280 + 480 CFU/ml). Negative cultures were obtained in 11 of 17 chloroform samples and none of the saline samples. Samples taken after apical enlargement two sizes larger than the original master apical file showed a significant difference (p < 0.05) between teeth retreated using chloroform versus saline. Negative cultures were seen in 9 of 17 chloroform samples and 1 of 17 saline samples. This study demonstrated that the use of chloroform during endodontic retreatment significantly reduced intracanal levels of cultivatable E. faecalis.
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