Why Two-Step Root Canals Might Be Better Than One-Step Root Canals

29 April 2016
 Categories: Dentist, Articles

No one ever likes finding out the news that they need a root canal; however, if you need one, you should follow through with it. Root canals are designed to save teeth that would otherwise probably have to be extracted, and they offer one of the only ways to achieve this. If you need a root canal and decide to get a second opinion, you might find that some dentists perform root canals all in one visit, but others may use a two-step process to complete a root canal. Here are several reasons you may want to choose a two-step root canal over a one-step root canal.

The Work Needed to Complete an Entire Root Canal Procedure

A root canal can be a lengthy procedure to complete, but it is vital for a dentist to finish the job thoroughly if you want to avoid further complications with this particular tooth. Here are the steps that must be completed to have a full root canal procedure:

  1. Locate the canals. A dentist will take x-rays before completing the root canal, and this is primarily to see how many canals the tooth has. The canals are located within the roots of your teeth, and these are found in the gums above or below your teeth. Some teeth may have only one canal, while others may have multiple canals. To ensure that the procedure is effective, the dentist must address every canal attached to the tooth. These canals contain nerves and can become infected from bacteria. When this happens, a root canal is needed.
  2. Numb your mouth. Dentists often use a lot of numbing medication for root canals, and this is primarily because they must dig deep into the roots of the tooth when they complete the process.
  3. Access and clean the canals. The dentist will then need to drill a hole through your tooth to access the canals. Once this is done, the dentist will clean out the canals with sharp, pointy instruments. The dentist must make sure he or she removes everything inside each of the canals.
  4. Fill the canals. Next, the dentist will replace the insides of the canals with an artificial filler material. This material is typically called gutta-percha, and it is made of a rubber-like material. The canals are filled to help prevent infections from forming in them in the future.
  5. Fill in the tooth. Finally, the dentist will place a filling in the tooth to complete the procedure.

In most cases, people must have dental crowns made and applied to teeth that have had root canals, but this is typically completed at a separate appointment.

The Pros and Cons of Having This Done in Two Visits

As you can see, there are a lot of different steps that must be completed for a root canal, and there are several good reasons why dentists often complete them in two appointments. Here are the main reasons to consider:

  • The time length. Getting an entire root canal can take 90 minutes or longer. This is a long time for you to sit with your mouth open. By having the procedure done in two visits, you can reduce the amount of time you will have to keep your mouth open and deal with the dentist working on your tooth.
  • The ability to detect and avoid problems. Another good reason to consider using a two-step approach is that this time span allows problems to surface that might not be evident right away. After a dentist completes the first three steps of the root canal process, he or she will send you home, and you will have to return in a week or so to have the remaining steps completed (the filling and crown). If the dentist did not remove everything from the canals or if there is another problem, the tooth will act up during this time. This will help the dentist make the necessary changes and repairs before completing the entire process.  

The only downside to a two-step approach is convenience. You will have to visit the dentist twice to have this completed, and you will have to get numbed twice.

If you need a root canal, you should schedule an appointment to have it done. This could be the only way for you to save your tooth. For additional info, contact a dentist that specializes in endodontics.