When cleaning the pulpal (nerve) area of a tooth during a root canal procedure, sodium hypochlorite (a strong base - pH 11 and more commonly known as bleach) is usually used in concentrations between 0.5 and 5.25%. The overall effect is to dissolve organic tissues that can not be readily accessed mechanically.
Source: Basrani B, Endodontic Irrigation, Oral Health, May 2011, Vol 101, No 5, pg 12-18.
Hans Skariah, B.Sc., DMD
Promenade Court Dental Health Group in Mississauga
2233 Hurontario St., Mississauga, ON, Canada
(1/2 km north of the QEW in the Dome Building)