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Gutta-Percha: What Is It?

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

We've all been to the dentist's office and wondered what all the terminology means. Some common terms may include fillings, crowns, and root canals. But have you ever heard of gutta-percha? We'll help you understand what gutta-percha is used for and the pros and cons to consider before heading to your root canal procedure.

What Is Gutta-Percha?

Gutta-percha is a material used to fill a tooth after a root canal procedure. Gutta-percha, a plastic substance from a Malaysian tree called a percha tree, is used as a permanent filling in root canals. During the root canal procedure, the tooth's damaged area, known as the pulp, is removed, and the tooth's canals are cleaned out and disinfected before being filled and sealed. Gutta-percha is the thermoplastic filling material heated and compressed into the tooth's canal, then sealed with adhesive cement.

Pros and Cons


There's a common misconception that gutta-percha causes allergies due to its similarity to latex, but this idea is misguided. Gutta-percha is generally accepted as a very safe-to-use filling material.


Unfortunately, there are some disadvantages associated with gutta-percha.

  • Gutta-percha may not hold as strong with some restoration methods.
  • It can be more challenging to see vertical root fractures when your tooth has previously been filled with gutta-percha.

Talk with your dentist or endodontist for more information on how gutta-percha can affect your dental health.

Everyday Oral Care

Ideally, it's best to keep your teeth healthy enough to avoid needing a root canal in the first place. This is possible with a good oral care routine at home. Your routine should include brushing at least twice a day, complemented by regular flossing or cleaning between your teeth with interdental brushes or water flossers. Lastly, don't forget to schedule regular cleanings with your dentist or dental hygienist to keep your mouth healthy and clean.

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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