What is a Partial Root Canal?

 

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One of the most frequent questions we hear from our Bellevue patients is “why did my dentist give me a partial root canal”? First, I’m going to assume that a partial root canal is the same as an incomplete root canal. With that premise in mind, there are various clinical reasons why you could need a partial root canal, the most important of which being infection!

Why can’t this operation be completed in a single appointment? The most common cause is dental infection. An infected tooth is notoriously difficult to numb, making the root canal procedure even more unpleasant.

It’s a half-finished job. We want to get to the nerves of your tooth (which are inflamed or infected) and remove them, as well as clean and disinfect the entire tooth cavity. There will be visible pain if the inflamed nerve tissue or necrotic/dead material is not entirely removed in the first session. It’s the equivalent of failing to properly debride a wound and allowing it to heal on its own. The treatment should be completed within 3–4 days of the initial sitting, unless the tooth’s state prevents it (long-standing infection/abscess situations), in which case dressings and more time are required. The teeth that are candidates for single-sitting RCTs are only done this way these days.