Why Does A Root Canal Sometimes Require Several Appointments?

Posted on: 27 April 2023

Root canal treatment addresses the fact that tooth infection is often better eliminated than conservatively treated. The common technique for treatment was developed in 1961, although there have been considerable refinements since then—particularly in terms of your comfort levels, and a modern root canal is essentially painless. But since the technique has been in use for decades, why must it involve several visits?

Infected Pulp

A tooth infection refers to the infection of the tooth's pulp. This is the tooth's nerve, and since it's a nerve, it can register pain. Your discomfort will increase as the pulp increases in size. An inflamed (swollen) dental pulp will press against the walls of its pulp chamber. This form of toothache can be extreme. So why doesn't a dentist simply treat the infection?

Predictable Outcome

The infected dental pulp may return to its former vitality with antibiotics and antimicrobial treatment. Then again, this outcome is not predictable. Conversely, eliminating the infection by removing the infected tissues offers a predictable outcome. Upon removal of its infected tissues, the tooth and its surrounding tissues are protected from re-infection. To retain the tooth and safeguard your overall dental health, root canal treatment offers the path of least resistance. If it's all so straightforward, why can root canal treatment sometimes require several appointments?

The Source

Firstly, your dentist must determine the source of your discomfort. Toothache isn't exclusively caused by an infection of the tooth's pulp, so your dentist must rule out alternative potential sources which require a different treatment method. To assess the state (level of inflammation) of your dental pulp, diagnostic testing might prove necessary. For example, the inflammation of your dental pulp may only be positively identified after an x-ray.

The Majority of Work

When diagnostic testing is needed, your dentist may only be able to perform your treatment during a subsequent appointment. The majority of the required work will be performed in a single appointment. An access cavity is made in the tooth, exposing the inflamed pulp. This will be extracted before the empty pulp chamber undergoes irrigation and microbial disinfection. The pulp chamber is packed with dental latex, and the tooth is closed—with a temporary filling.

A Further Appointment

At a further appointment, your dentist will remove the temporary filling and will apply its permanent replacement. Prior to this step, your tooth will be assessed, and your dentist may ask you a few questions about your post-root canal comfort. Any lingering discomfort can suggest a small amount of infected pulp tissues remained inside the tooth (likely hiding in its roots). If this is suspected, re-treatment will be performed.

Even though it's a well-established method, the comprehensive results of root canal treatment may need several dental visits to accomplish. 

For more info about root canals, contact a local company like Highland Family dental.