If you have a toothache, you will immediately run to your dentist, isn’t it? However, one thing that may be constantly running in your head is “What if it’s a root canal?” There are many misconceptions about root canal treatments – root canals are painful, they take multiple visits to the dentist etc. Talking of root canal visits, most patients wonder “why do root canals take 2 visits?”
In order to answer this question, we will need to understand why a root canal is done and how it helps to health the tooth and tissues around it.
When Do I Need a Root Canal?
When a patient reports to the dentist’s office with excruciating, sharp pain or a dull heavy pain in relation to one or more teeth, it is more likely to be due to tooth decay and subsequent infection. When tooth decay is not treated in the early stages, it extends deeper into the tooth to affect tooth pulp in the root and its canals.
Apart from this, when a tooth suffers a trauma or injury, the tooth pulp becomes non-vital and will need to be removed before it causes infection and pain. Before we learn why do root canals take 2 visits, we must learn the steps involved in this procedure.
Once your dentist determines that a particular tooth or teeth require a root canal treatment, he/she will first clean out the tooth pulp using instruments and specifically formulated dental materials.
Once this is done, your dentist will shape the root canals to make them more accessible with instruments to clear out any remaining infection, tooth decay, bacteria and their products. When you ask “why do root canals take 2 visits or more” the next time, you will be able to understand the procedure explained till now is done in one sitting and the patient is sent home.
How Many Visits Does Root Canal Take?
So, “why do root canals take 2 visits or more?” Well, because the infected tooth pulp is removed and the root canals treated and made bacteria- free. But can’t this happen in one sitting? Not always! In some cases, root canals can be completed in one sitting but in most cases, they need 2 or more sittings.
There are many reasons for why do root canals take 2 visits or more. Firstly, an important reason is that in cases where the patient has reported with lot of pain, pus drainage or swelling, the tooth and the surrounding tissues need to be completely bacteria-free and in health before the root canal is sealed-off.
Secondly, completing the whole procedure in one go can be tiring to the patient as he/she has to keep their mouth open for that long. Hence, the procedure is split into two sessions.
After the first sitting where a cleaning procedure is done, your dentist will place a medicated dressing, usually made up of calcium products, to help in the healing of surrounding tissues at the tip of the root canal.
Another answer for your question of “why do root canals take 2 visits” is that your dentist will prescribe antibiotics for 3-5 days to further assist in reducing the bacterial levels before the next appointment.
After 5-7 days, your dentist will call you back to complete the root canal procedure. In this session, usually your dentist will do a final cleaning with a strong antibacterial and place an inert material inside your root canals along with an medicated adhesive-like sealer and seal the canals off.
In many cases, one may even ask “why is my root canal taking multiple sittings” instead of asking “why do root canals take 2 visits?”. The reason is there is no set number of sitting that a root canal must finish in. When there is severe infection around the root tip, when the tooth is mobile due to an abscess at your root tip or in cases of trauma, root canals can take multiple visits with inter-appointment calcium dressings places in the canals.
A root canal treatment isn’t completed with just sealing of the root canals. In order to restore the tooth functionality and strength, a cap(crown) is placed on the tooth. When people come with a question of “Why do root canals take 2 visits?”, they usually have another question of “How many visits does root canal take?”
In cases where the patient is absolutely asymptomatic and there is no active infection around the tooth but it is indicated for a root canal procedure, the dentist may perform a one visit root canal.
But, no matter how many sittings your root canal takes, always count one extra sitting for your crown fixing appointment on your root canal treated tooth.
What If the Root Canal Treatment Fails?
Root canal failures may sound scary to most people but these are facts of the treatment. Just like any other medical and dental treatment, root canal treatments can, however rare they may be, fail.
There can be many reasons for this such as –
- Incomplete procedure
- Inadequate cleaning of the canals
- Inadequate filling or sealing of the canals
- Poor oral-hygiene of the patient that leads to re-infection
- Improperly healed tissues around the root canal tip
- Failure to crown the root canal treated tooth
- Fracture of the tooth that leads to seeping of saliva into the treated tooth
So, the answer to “why do root canals take 2 visits?” or “How many visits does it take for a root canal?” is very subjective and depends upon each individual patient’s case, condition of the tooth, the amount of infection and healing achieved between appointments.
If you wish to learn more about why do root canals take 2 visits or more and about one visit root canal, step-in to your closest Sabka Dentist clinic and consult with our team of dental experts!