How Long Does a Root Canal Take?

A cross-section of a root canal

You’ve probably heard someone sarcastically quip, “I’d rather have a root canal than do that!” Although root canals came by their grim reputation honestly, technology has redeemed the tooth-saving procedure.  At Love Your Smile, we want you to know that root canals don’t take as long as you may think, and they are actually comfortable when done by our team.

However, let’s take a moment to thoroughly answer the question, “How long does a root canal take?” so you know exactly what to expect.

The general time frame for a root canal

Typically, we complete the process in one appointment, though, for some patients, it could take two. The time you’re in the chair is between 30 minutes and an hour and a half. The severity of the infection and the affected tooth affect the time most.

First, you have a thorough examination of the affected tooth, and our dentist will provide you with a time estimate. Keep in mind that this figure may change throughout the process.

How the tooth type affects the time

The type of tooth can affect the time it takes to perform a root canal procedure. In general, molars take longer to treat than incisors or canines because molars have more roots and more complex root canal systems.

The time it takes to perform a root canal can vary depending on several factors, including the complexity of the tooth’s root structure and the extent of the damage or infections.

Additionally, the position of the tooth can also affect the time of a root canal. Teeth located toward the back of the mouth can be more difficult to access, which may take longer to complete.

What happens during a root canal?

Now that you know the time commitment of the treatment, you may wonder about the process. Because a root canal is a delicate process our dentist must perform it carefully. The procedure isn’t a cut-and-dry one; it requires multiple steps, including preparation, drilling, cleansing, and possibly a crown.

First and foremost, unless you have dental anxiety, our practitioner will complete the process using a local anesthetic to numb the area, making the process as comfortable as possible. Those with dental anxiety may receive nitrous oxide or IV sedation.

Then, our practitioner will use a dental drill to create a small opening in your tooth and clean the inside, removing any infection or damaged tissue. Sometimes, our practitioner will place an antibiotic inside the tooth to remove any bacteria that remain.

At this point, our practitioner will take X-rays of the tooth to ensure it’s cleaned thoroughly. At the conclusion, the dentist will fill the inside of the tooth with Gutta-percha—a dental-safe, rubber-like substance from the Gutta-percha tree. The purpose of the Gutta-percha is to fill the space and prevent bacteria from entering.

If we’re completing a same-day root canal, our practitioner will put a permanent crown over it. On the other hand, if we’re performing the procedure over two visits, you’ll receive a temporary crown and will have a permanent one placed at a later date. The crown protects the tooth and gives it back its function. While less common, we may place a filling in the opening rather than positioning a crown.

If you had a sedative, we’ll make sure you wait to leave until we see the medication is safely wearing off.

In closing, a root canal can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the complexity of the tooth and the extent of the infection. Dr. Raval and our team will be able to provide you with a more accurate estimate based on your unique situation.

Now that you know the answer to “How long does a root canal take?” schedule your appointment with Love Your Smile today. Through a root canal, we’ll correct the problem, stop any pain, and provide you with a restoration of your choice, all in less time than you may have thought.

Schedule your appointment today to find out how Dr. Raval and Love Your Smile can help you.

Love Your Smile proudly welcomes all patients in the Greater Seattle area.