How Long Does a Root Canal Take?

root canal take featured image

If you experience pain or pressure in your mouth, you may have an infected tooth. When that happens, you may need a root canal to fix the problem.

A root canal is a routine procedure, but it intimidates many people. One way to find comfort in how daunting a root canal treatment is is to learn everything about the procedure beforehand, including:

  1. What’s involved
  2. How long the dental procedure will take
  3. What to expect in recovery

Keep reading to learn the answer to the question of how long a root canal takes and other information to prepare you for this common dental procedure.

What Is a Root Canal?

We’ll answer the question of “how long does a root canal take,” but first, let’s discuss what exactly a root canal is.

A root canal is a procedure in which infected material (dental pulp) is removed from your tooth and then filled in. The result eliminates the bacteria in the tooth and prevents further infection in your mouth.

According to the American Association of Endodontics (AAE), over 15 million root canals are performed in the United States alone each year.

Root canal cost varies per region but can be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands, depending on how severe the infection in the tooth is. Some insurance companies will cover some or all of the cost of treatment.

Root Canal vs. Filling

A root canal treatment is a more in-depth version of a filling. Both root canals and fillings are treatments to fix an infected tooth. However, the main difference between the two is how deep the infection is in either case.

A filling is needed when the infection remains in the tooth. However, if it goes down to the pulp chamber where the nerves and blood vessels are, it becomes more complicated to fix, which is when a root canal is necessary.

Signs That You Need a Root Canal

For the best possible chance at treating a root canal, you must be able to recognize the signs that you need one.

There are several signs that you may need a root canal. Some of the most evident signs include:

  • Pain or pressure in the tooth
  • Increased tooth sensitivity
  • A cracked or chipped tooth
  • Gum problems (discoloration or darkness)
  • Loose tooth

One aspect that dictates how long a root canal takes is how severely infected your tooth is, so it’s important not to ignore tooth pain or delay getting that cavity filled as it can potentially worsen. It’s possible that once your dentist starts the root canal and inspects the infection, they determine that the tooth is beyond repair, in which case you may need a tooth extraction.

Therefore, the earlier you spot these signs, the less severe the damage to your tooth will be.

The Root Canal Process

Many people are intimidated by the thought of a root canal, but the truth is that the procedure sounds scarier than it is. For you as the patient, it’s comparable to getting a filling.

Root canals are performed by dental professionals with the special skills it takes to carry on this procedure. They are very common, and many professionals even perform root canals every day. What may seem scary to you is routine for them, so you can rest easy knowing that you’re in good hands.

Here’s what a regular root canal procedure looks like:

  1. A rubber dam is put around your infected tooth to prevent the infection from spreading to other areas of your mouth during the procedure.
  2. You’re given local anesthesia to numb the infected tooth and surrounding gums.
  3. Once your mouth is numb, the dentist will clean out the tooth decay and disinfect the roots.
  4. Once cleaned out, the tooth will be filled in.
  5. A dental crown may be put in place afterwards.

How long does the whole process take? Let’s find out.

treatment of dental canals in the bottom molar

How Long Does a Root Canal Procedure Take?

What mainly differentiates a root canal from a filling is how in-depth into your affected tooth your dentist goes to try to fix the problem. Root canals require more depth, and therefore the process takes longer than it does to fill a cavity – but usually not by much.

A root canal typically takes 30 to 60 minutes to complete, depending on the condition of the tooth. If you’re getting a larger tooth with complex roots treated, the procedure can take up to an hour and a half.

Sometimes root canals require more than one appointment. The first appointment will involve adding a temporary filling. During your next appointment, the dentist will add the permanent filling and double-check that everything is okay.

You may also need multiple appointments if you need a root canal performed on multiple teeth, as most dentists will not perform multiple root canals in one sitting.

How Long Does a Root Canal Take to Heal?

After the root canal procedure, you can expect to experience a little soreness in your mouth for the first day or so. You can manage this with pain medication such as Advil or Tylenol.

The pain should be entirely gone within a couple of days to a week. On rare occasions, some patients experience complications after the procedure. If the pain persists, it’s important to contact your dentist to ensure that your root canal is indeed healing as it should.

joyful male looking into the mirror after dentist work

Recap: How Long Does a Root Canal Take

Hopefully, you can rest easier now knowing the answer to “how long does a root canal take.” The procedure doesn’t take much longer than other similar dental procedures, and root canal recovery time is also quick, so you can get back to living in comfort in no time.

If you’re feeling pain or pressure in your mouth, make sure that you get it checked out before it’s too late. Book a root canal appointment with Shelburne Village Dental today.

Our patients will always be our first priority. We are devoted to creating an exceptional experience with every patient that walks into our office.

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