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How many visits are required for root canal treatments?

Endodontic treatments are also called root canal treatments. Root canal treatment not only requires removal of the “nerves” inside the root canals of the teeth, it also involves removal of inflamed, necrotic, or infected tissues.

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Appropriate antibacterial medicaments are then placed inside these canals and when the tooth becomes free of symptoms and is stable, a special filling material is placed to seal off the canals and prevent further growth of bacteria, thus preventing further chance of infection. The root canal systems are highly complex, and not one tooth is the same. In general, front teeth have 1-2 root canals, and back teeth have 3-4 canals, however, the actual numbers and distributions of root canals differ among different individuals, and can also differ among different teeth in the same individual.

Therefore the number of visits required for each root canal treatment and the complexity of the treatment can be affected by the following:

1) Location of the tooth in the mouth and the degree of mouth opening:

Back teeth (molars) have a higher number of root canals and therefore require more visits. In addition, if the patient’s mouth opening is limited, or if the patient has TMJ issues, more numbers of shorter appointments rather than less numbers of longer appointments should be arranged.

2) The degree of infection of the root canals:

The tissues inside the root canals can be infected by various reasons, including trauma, deep caries, gum disease, or a combination of multiple factors. If the infection is severe, the treatment may require more visits to ensure proper working time of the medicaments and appropriate follow up period.

3) The degree of complexity of the root canal system:

Some examples of complex root canal systems include: narrow or calcified canals, curved canals, or C-shape canals. These types of canal systems increase the difficulty of the treatment and thus require more visits to complete the procedure.

4) The stability of the tooth after completion of treatment:

Due to the fact that each tooth is different, the outcome and speed of recovery of each tooth can also be different. The endodontist will follow up the tooth to make sure it is free of infection and symptoms before the restorative work on the tooth can be done, such as fillings or crowns. Please consult our dentists for more details.


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