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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Endodontic flare-ups: comparison of incidence between single and multiple visit procedures in patients attending a Nigerian teaching hospital

Adeleke O Oginni* and Christopher I Udoye

Author Affiliations

Department of Restorative Dentistry, Faculty of Dentistry, College of Health Sciences, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria

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BMC Oral Health 2004, 4:4  doi:10.1186/1472-6831-4-4

Published: 26 November 2004



Until recently the most accepted technique of doing root canal treatment stresses multiple visit procedure. Most schools also concentrated upon teaching the multi-visit concept. However, it has now been reported that the procedure of single visit treatment is advocated by at least 70% of schools in all geographical areas. It was therefore the aims of the present study to find the incidence of post-obturation flare-ups following single and multiple visit endodontic treatment procedures, and to establish the relationship between pre-operative and post-obturation pain in patients referred for endodontic therapy in a Nigerian teaching Hospital.


Data collected included pulp vitality status, the presence or absence of pre-operative, inter-appointment and post-obturation pain. Pain was recorded as none, slight, or moderate/severe. Flare-ups were defined as either patient's report of pain not controlled with over the counter medication or as increasing swelling. The patients were recalled at three specific post-obturation periods, 1st, 7th and 30th day. The presence or absence of pain, or the appropriate degree of pain was recorded for each recall visits and the interval between visits. The compiled data were analysed using chi-square where applicable. P level ≤ 0.05 was taken as significant.


Ten endodontic flare-ups (8.1%) were recorded in the multiple visit group compared to 19 (18.3%) flare-ups for the single visit group, P = 0.02. For both single and multiple visit procedures, there were statistically significant correlations between pre-operative and post-obturation pain (P = 0.002 and P = 0.0004 respectively). Teeth with vital pulps reported the lowest frequency of post-obturation pain (48.8%), while those with nonvital pulps were found to have the highest frequency of post-obturation pain (50.3%), P = 0.9.


The present study reported higher incidences of post-obturation pain and flare-ups following the single visit procedures. However, single visit endodontic therapy has been shown to be a safe and effective alternative to multiple visit treatment, especially in communities where patients default after the first appointment at which pain is relieved.