Single sitting / Single Visit Root Canal: When should be done?


In the realm of dental health, the complexity of procedures like root canals demands a nuanced understanding. This comprehensive guide seeks to delve into the intricacies of a specific approach – the single-sitting root canal. Through detailed exploration, we aim to shed light on the various phases, indications, and contraindications associated with this procedure.

Layers of the Teeth

Unveiling the Three Layers

To truly comprehend the necessity of a root canal, it’s crucial to grasp the intricate layers of the teeth. The outermost layer, enamel, serves as a protective shield. Moving inward, the dentin layer contains numerous dentinal tubules, contributing to the tooth’s structural integrity. Finally, the innermost layer, the pulp chamber, houses crucial components such as nerves and blood vessels.

Understanding Root Canal Treatment

Phase 1: Access Opening

The initiation of root canal treatment involves a meticulous process. In the first phase, known as the access opening, a precision drill is employed to create an opening into the pulp chamber. This stage is dedicated to the removal of degenerated and necrosed pulp, setting the foundation for the subsequent phases.

Phase 2: Bio-Mechanical Preparation

Moving forward, the second phase, termed bio-mechanical preparation, plays a pivotal role. This step focuses on the enlargement and reshaping of the canal. The objective is to create an optimal environment for the subsequent filling phase, ensuring long-term efficacy.

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Phase 3: Restorative Phase

The final stage, the restorative phase, marks the culmination of the root canal procedure. The canal is filled with a material, often gutta-percha, forming an airtight seal. This meticulous sealing process aims to prevent the re-entry of infectious agents into the canals, safeguarding against potential reinfection.

Single Sitting Root Canal: Pros and Cons


  1. Efficiency for Healthy Teeth: For individuals with vital and healthy teeth necessitating endodontic therapy unrelated to cavities, a single sitting root canal proves efficient.
  2. Suitability for Marginal Caries: In cases where marginal caries are present, and the pulp appears healthy, a single sitting root canal can be a viable option. This is particularly relevant when combined with other essential treatments like capping.


  1. Contradictions with Nonvital Pulp: Contrarily, teeth with nonvital pulp and periapical pathologies are not ideal candidates for a single sitting root canal.
  2. Chronic Infections and Pus Discharge: Teeth afflicted with chronic infections or exhibiting pus discharge are contraindicated for this expedited procedure.

The Importance of Multiple Sittings

While the allure of completing a root canal in a single day is tempting, it is essential to recognize the importance of the traditional approach involving multiple sittings.

Gradual Drainage for Chronic Infections

The phased approach allows for the gradual drainage of infection beyond the root. This drainage occurs into the oral cavity through the pulp chamber opening established in the initial phase. By the end of the second sitting, the accumulated infection drains, rendering the tooth infection-free.

Indications for Single-Sitting Root Canals

Scenario 1: Vital or Healthy Teeth

For patients with vital and healthy teeth necessitating endodontic therapy unrelated to cavities, a single sitting root canal is a viable and time-efficient choice.

Scenario 2: Marginal Caries

In cases where marginal caries are present, and the pulp appears healthy, a single sitting root canal can be incorporated into the treatment plan. This is particularly relevant when other essential treatments, such as capping, are required.

Contraindications for Single Sitting Root Canals

Contraindication 1: Nonvital Pulp

Teeth with nonvital pulp and periapical pathologies are not suitable candidates for a single-sitting root canal due to the complexities involved.

Contraindication 2: Chronic Infections

For teeth with chronic infections, the gradual drainage facilitated by multiple sittings remains the preferred approach over the expedited single-sitting root canal.

Contraindication 3: Pus Discharge

Teeth exhibiting pus discharge are also contraindicated for single-sitting root canals due to the potential complications involved.


In conclusion, the choice between a single-visit root canal and the traditional phased approach hinges on various factors. Understanding the nuances of indications and contraindications is paramount for both patients and practitioners in making well-informed decisions regarding their dental health.

Dr. Kiran MDS

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