If you’ve never had a root canal before, you likely have no idea what to expect—or, even worse, you’re expecting something completely different from what the actual experience is like. Contrary to popular belief, root canals relieve pain rather than causing it! Below, we’ll answer how long a root canal procedure takes and what you can expect from the process.
What Happens During a Root Canal Procedure
When the pulp tissue inside a tooth is inflamed or infected, a root canal treatment is needed. This treatment gives us the chance to save your tooth from having to be extracted, which is the best option for your dental health. The modern endodontic techniques we use, along with local anesthetic, mean that root canals aren’t any more painful than having a cavity filled.
The first step in getting a root canal is numbing the affected tooth and the soft tissue surrounding it to ensure your comfort throughout the procedure. Next, a small opening is made in your tooth, which allows us to view and access the pulp chamber and roots. Any inflamed or infected tissue is removed, then the canals are cleaned, reshaped, and disinfected. To replace the pulp that was removed, a material called gutta percha is used. Your tooth is restored with either a dental filling or with a crown, depending on the size of the opening that was needed.
How Long It Takes to Get a Root Canal
Many dental procedures are fairly predictable, but there is more variation involved when it comes to root canals, which means there is no one-size-fits-all answer to how long it will take. If a tooth has severe infection, it may need to be medicated during your first appointment, with the rest of the root canal procedure completed in a second appointment. A tooth that needs to have a crown placed after root canal treatment may also require additional appointments.
Another factor is the anatomy of your tooth, as this can make your root canal treatment more complicated. While root canals typically take between 60 and 90 minutes, a complex case could require two 90 minute appointments, plus an additional appointment for a crown.
Recovery from a Root Canal Procedure
Now that you know how long a root canal takes, maybe you’re wondering how much time you’ll need to take off of work. Many of our patients choose to return to work or school immediately after their root canal procedure. Your mouth will be numb for a few hours after your treatment, so if your job requires speaking or interacting with the public, you may want to take the rest of the day off instead.
You’ll experience some tenderness and sensitivity on and around the treated tooth for a few days after your root canal procedure, but there’s no need for rest or downtime. Follow the aftercare instructions we give you and you’ll feel back to normal again in a few days!