Skip to main content
Toggle Menu of ADA WebSites
ADA Websites
Partnerships and Commissions
Toggle Search Area
Toggle Menu
e-mail Print Share

Associated Topics

Outcomes for single- vs. multiple-visit root canal treatments similar

Hope Saltmarsh RDH, BA, MEd; Ahmed Elkhadem BDS, MS


Systematic Review Author(s)

Figini L, Lodi G, Gorni F, Gagliani M

Summary Title

Similar treatment outcomes when performing endodontic therapy on permanent teeth in a single visit or multiple visits




Key terms

Root canal treatment: treatment for an infected tooth during which the pulp, which contains the tooth's blood supply and nerves, is removed.  The tooth is usually filled with a material and sealed, or is prepared and covered with an artificial tooth (a crown).

Pulp: the inner part of a tooth that contains the blood supply and nerves.

Radiograph: a picture of the hard tissues in the body, like bones or teeth.  Commonly called an "X-ray."

Root canal treatments can be completed in one appointment--when the infected pulp is removed and the cleaned space is immediately filled and sealed--or in multiple appointments--when the infected pulp is removed and the empty space is packed with material meant to kill any remaining bacteria.  Then, at a later appointment, the packing is removed and the tooth is filled and sealed, or prepared for a crown.  The authors of this review wondered if there was any difference in the treatment outcomes or complications experienced between the two.
They reviewed 12 studies of root canal treatments done in one visit or multiple visits.  To compare the experiences, they looked at reported pain after the treatment, swelling, and the use of pain relievers.  They also compared complications that may have developed because the infection in the tooth spread.  Finally, they checked radiographs taken one year after the treatment to see if the teeth healed properly. 

Authors' findings
The authors found that teeth seemed to heal equally well, whether the treatment was done in one appointment or several. There was no real difference in complications other than slightly more frequent swelling with single visits. They did notice that patients whose root canals were done in one appointment tended to take more pain relievers than other groups of patients.

Based on the limited evidence in this review, it seems that single- and multiple-visit root canal treatments have similar outcomes. 


Clinically, does it matter whether a root canal treatment is completed in one visit or over a few visits?


People who had a root canal treatment done in one visit tended to take more medicine to relieve pain and have slightly more frequent swelling than those who had the treatment done over multiple visits.  Other than that, there was no difference between the two groups in effectiveness, complaints of pain or other complications.