Delayed root canal therapy: an analysis of treatment over time.

By Wong M, Shelley JJ, Bodey T, Hall R.

Date: 01/1992
Journal: JOE


  • The study was performed to compare immediate (defined as completion of root canal treatment within a period of 4 months (120 days) or less) and delayed (defined as incomplete root canal therapy (never obturated) or completion of root canal therapy in a period of time greater than 4 months).


  • N=898 teeth.
  • Data taken from military dental clinic. Endodontists and general dentists provided treatment. Comparisons of prompt and delayed treatment groups were made with regard to preoperative pain, interappointment emergencies, postobturation pain, and final treatment.


  • Significantly higher incidence of inter-appointment emergency was observed for the delayed treatment group (21%) than for the prompt treatment group (8%)
  • 56% of teeth with incomplete root canal therapy eventually were extracted compared to 3% for the root canal filling treatment groups.

Clinical Significance:

Completion of RCT within a short time frame results in fewer inter-appointment emergencies.  Incomplete root canal therapy has a high failure/extraction rate.