If you have been getting several root canal treatments each year, you have probably noticed that your dentist is becoming more reluctant to give you a complete exam. Perhaps you are getting it now, but are not sure how long you will be around for. If you have asked your dentist about this increase in reluctance, the reply might be, “I don’t know.” You are probably trying to figure out how many visits you should expect each year, if you have not already scheduled regular appointments.
Most dentists estimate that approximately three-fourths of their patients require another root canal or tooth extraction at some point. The numbers vary because different dental professionals give the estimation. But most agree that it is closer to two-thirds. There are factors that lead to this estimation. First, the dentist who is doing the exam will consider how long the root canal or other procedure will take. In addition, the office has to account for how many visits the patient is likely to need.
Next, the dentist will look at how many of these procedures he or she can perform during the typical three-month office visit. Most dentists can treat a root canal or some other procedure in less than three hours, depending on the type of procedure. If you need the root canal or other procedure in a shorter time than this, you may want to contact your dentist. Some dentists will schedule two appointments each week, one for x-rays and one for the actual procedure.
How many visits you should expect depends on a number of factors. For example, how long does it take for the tooth or teeth to recede completely from the gums? A long enough canal may reduce the number of visits necessary. At the very least, you need to avoid having open root canals or teeth that require another root canal before the procedure is complete.
You should also know how many appointments with the dentist will make. Some dentists have a daily quota, based on how many cavities they can treat in one day. Others, however, work on an annual basis. Either way, you should be prepared to have a visit with a dentist not just once, but probably several times a year.
The best time to have a root canal is during a normal office visit, when the patient is sitting still and comfortable. If possible, you should wait until the gums are warm before scheduling your appointment. This ensures that the dentist will not have to use cold air during the procedure. If you cannot wait until the gums are warm, ask how many dentist visits for a root canal you would need. This will help you determine whether you should schedule the appointment during the morning, lunchtime, or after noon. (If you have dental insurance, you may also want to find out how many appointments your insurance company requires.)
Next, you should take note of how many times your dentist recommends a follow-up appointment. Once you receive your estimate, you should already have an idea of how many root canal appointments you will need. Your follow-up appointment could either be a couple minutes long or an hour-long session. If your dentist wants you to come back a day early, let him know so he can adjust the anesthesia and numbing agents. After your root canal procedure, you might be prescribed pain medication to help you manage the discomfort.
Root canal clinics often provide post-op services, such as a follow-up appointment with the dentist to talk about how you are doing. It’s best to schedule this appointment a week or two ahead of your scheduled visit. This ensures that your dentist will know how well he or she did during the root canal treatment. It also lets him or her know how many additional visits you will need. If there was damage to the tooth or the pulp, your dentist will also need to know this before scheduling another visit.