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24-09-2012 | Oral medicine | Article

Success rates affect patient preferences for one or two root canal visits


Free abstract

medwireNews: The potential success rate of root canal treatment (RCT) affects whether patients would prefer to complete it in one or two visits to the dentist, indicate study results.

If success rates are equal, a large majority of patients would prefer to complete RCT in one visit, but this fraction decreases as hypothetical treatment success with two-visit treatment increases, report the researchers.

Regardless of success rates; however, one-fifth of patients reported that they would undertake whatever number of visits their dentist recommended, they add.

"Practitioners often make assumptions about patient preferences, such as presuming that patients prefer treatment to occur in fewer visits," say Daniel Caplan (University of Iowa, Iowa City, USA) and co-investigators.

"Our findings showed that this was not always the case," they add, in the Journal of Endodontics.

The team analyzed questionnaire responses from 124 patients aged at least 18 years who were scheduled for an evaluation and/or initial nonsurgical RCT at the University of Iowa.

The questionnaires collected demographic information as well as patient preferences for one- or two-visit RCT treatment, according to different rates of hypothetical success.

In all, 78% of respondents said they would prefer one RCT treatment visit and 7% said they would prefer two visits, if both frequencies had the same success rate. Another 16% said they would follow their dentist's advice.

Responses changed when two-visit RCT was hypothetically more successful than one visit: 34% of respondents preferred two-visit RCT when its success rate was 5% higher than one visit, 46% preferred two-visit RCT when its success rate was 10% better, and 65% of respondents preferred two-visit RCT when it was hypothetically 20% more successful than one-visit RCT.

By contrast, respondents who preferred one-visit RCT dropped to a corresponding 40% to 31% to 13% in these scenarios, report Caplan and colleagues.

When success rates were greater for one-visit RCT, approximately 5% of respondents still preferred two visits, and approximately 20% said they would do what their dentist recommended.

"Although many patients undoubtedly would prefer the convenience of completing RCT in one visit, it also is possible that some would choose that treatment to occur across multiple visits (eg, because of temporomandibular joint problems, inability to keep their mouth open, not being able to leave work for longer appointments, or transportation issues)," suggest the authors.

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Sarah Guy, medwireNews Reporter