How Long Does a Root Canal Take? 3 Benefits to Know

If you suffer any dental discomfort or pain for a prolonged period, visit a dentist. The dentist will check your teeth and will let you know if you need a root canal procedure1, or if any other treatment needs to be done.

So, how long does a root canal take? And many other similar questions could arise in your mind if you are recommended to have a root canal treatment2. The pain experienced due to the infected tooth is, at times, unbearable.

This article will help you know more about root canal treatment if you need a root canal procedure here.

1. About Root Canal

A root canal is a space within a tooth’s pulp chamber. Pulp, nerves, connective tissue, and blood vessels are all found within it—the living tissues help to connect the tooth to your bone and gums through these. There is at least one root canal in every tooth, and some have multiple.

When a root canal gets infected or swollen, it must be treated with root canal therapy. If the infection is not treated, it can spread to other teeth and the surrounding tissues. A root canal procedure can be avoided by extracting the tooth. However, this can aggravate the situation.

2. Symptoms of Root Canal Infections

Root Canal pain
Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

Several factors might lead to root canal treatment. Some of the symptoms that could tell you whether you require a root canal treatment or not are listed below:

(i) Tooth pain that is prolonged or that comes and goes regularly

(ii) Prone to hot and cold sensitivity

(iii) Darkening of the teeth

(iv) Swelling in the gum

(v) Experiencing foul odour.

(vi) Cracks or breakage in your teeth.

3. About Root Canal Procedure

Root Canal
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

A root canal is a typical dental procedure or treatment. You might need to have this done when you have tooth pain or sensitivity. Root canal therapy can be done in a variety of manners. Hand root canal therapy, computerized rotary root canal therapy, and microscopic root canal therapy are all options.

Cavity affects the crown of your teeth, and if left untreated, it will slowly reach the nerve or the dental pulp, causing an abscess and infection. Root canal therapy is the only way that can help you ease pain without removing the natural teeth.

4. Benefits of Root Canal Therapy

a) Root canal therapy is a common procedure that can relieve severe pain while also helping preserve the natural tooth.

b) It can be completed in one or two visits to a dental clinic.

c) You will not experience any discomfort or pain if proper care and an adequate dose of anaesthetic are provided.

5. The Drawback of Root Canal Therapy

One of the drawbacks of the root canal treatment could be that the procedure might cause your teeth to grow weaker. Since the procedure needs to rework the natural tooth, it might help you get relief from pain but will change the tooth’s natural properties3.

6. The Root Canal Treatment Process

How long a root canal treatment may vary from patient to patient. The common procedure covers the following steps.

1. The dentist will first numb you with local anaesthesia and then place a rubber dam on the affected tooth to keep your other teeth safe during the root canal procedure.

2. Next, the extensive decay and infection on the inside of the tooth are removed. The infected pulp or the nerve and any infection are removed by drilling a small hole.

3. Then, the damaged tooth will be disinfected, and a rubber material called gutta-percha will be used to seal the tooth from the root’s tip to about halfway up.

4. Then, the teeth will be sealed with a filling. If the root canal treatment is done on the back teeth (molars), it is preferable to use a crown to seal it since the danger of fracturing is more serious. A crown can strengthen your tooth. Your teeth function as wedges against each other, and after repetitive chewing, biting, and flexing activities, the teeth begin to or are prone to fracture. These cracks run the length of the tooth and break it right in the middle. If this occurs, the tooth will need to be pulled.

7. How Long Does a Root Canal Take?

Root canal treatment necessitates a high level of competence and the use of specialized equipment. How long a root canal takes depends on the dentist’s expertise, experience, and the equipment utilized during the process.

It can take around half an hour and/or can potentially be time-consuming depending on several factors.

The patient’s cooperation at times, such as the fear element that the patient has, the patient’s age, or the patient’s mouth opening, are all aspects that might influence how long a root canal takes. How long a root canal takes can depend on the tooth on which the procedure is being done.

Root canal treatment time for teeth on a single root can take less time, and teeth with up to three roots or more can take more time.

7.1. Molars

Since these type of teeth4 contains roughly up to four canals, the treatment takes a little longer. It could take up to an hour or extend to two or more hours.

7.2. Premolars

Since these teeth are located behind your anterior teeth but before the molars have one or two roots, it may take an hour or more, depending on the structure and condition of your teeth.

7.3. Front Teeth

Since the front teeth have only one root, it can take up to an hour to complete.

8. How Many Visits Are Required for Root Canal Procedure?

A root canal procedure can be completed within one or two appointments. It may be determined by the place where the root canal treatment is performed or can depend on your tooth condition.

Dentists can divide the dental procedures and have them completed within the same day of the first appointment or done on the second appointment.

9. Is Root Canal Therapy Painful?

How Long Does a Root Canal Take
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Root canal treatment may appear to be a traumatic process, but technological developments and treatment have made it less so. To protect the treated tooth from harmful bacteria, the infected tooth is treated, and then it is sealed. Since the entire area is numbed, you won’t feel pain during the procedure.

You may experience some discomfort following the treatment, which your dentist can treat with medicines. Most patients don’t experience pain, but there could be some exceptions. If the treatment is done in a different setting, the dentist can prescribe temporary antibacterial medication after the first visit.

10. After Care Following Root Canal Therapy

This procedure may be a serious treatment, and you must be cautious about certain things after the treatment is completed. Here are a few things that you must bear in mind.

1) As a result of the local anaesthesia5, the numbness will persist for a while, so you won’t feel any discomfort immediately after the treatment is done. So don’t eat anything sticky immediately after the treatment because it could harm your soft tissue or cause your temporary filling to fall out.

2) If the procedure is done over several visits, or even after a  few days of the complete procedure, abstain from lovely meals and carbonated beverages to avoid harming the treated tooth.

3) Practice good oral hygiene to prevent reinfection.

4) To keep the region clean, you can rinse your mouth with a little warm saline solution.

ROOT CANAL treatment step by step  - 3D video of endodontics for tooth decay ©

11. Concluding Thoughts

A root canal could be the best option as it helps you ease the pain and remove tooth infection without losing the tooth. The question ‘How long does a root canal take’ varies. It could take a few minutes or can take hours.

You can complete the process in one appointment or need two visits or more. Nowadays, many affordable dental care treatments are available on the market.

So many can consider this option without any hindrance to the budget.

12. Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Why Do Root Canals Take 2 Visits?

The second appointment for your treatment marks the completion of your procedure. The temporary dental filling is removed to make room for the permanent filling. Your dentist will check for signs of re-infection before placing a permanent dental filling.

Q2. Is Getting a Root Canal Painful?

Because patients are given anaesthesia, root canals are no more painful than routine dental procedures, such as filling or removing wisdom teeth. However, a root canal is usually slightly sore or numb after the procedure and may cause mild discomfort for a few days.

Q3. Do I Need Crown After Root Canal?

The need for a crown is often determined by the amount of tooth structure left after a root canal. Usually, if more than half of the tooth is missing, a crown is indicated to restore the structural integrity of the tooth.

Proofreading by:

Dr Foram Bhuta

Dentist (B.D.S)
  1. Murray, C. A., and W. P. Saunders. “Root canal treatment and general health: a review of the literature.” International Endodontic Journal 33.1 (2000): 1-18. ↩︎
  2. Estrela, Carlos, et al. “Characterization of successful root canal treatment.” Brazilian dental journal 25 (2014): 3-11. ↩︎
  3. Zhang, Ya-Rong, et al. “Review of research on the mechanical properties of the human tooth.” International journal of oral science 6.2 (2014): 61-69. ↩︎
  4. Krivanek, Jan, Igor Adameyko, and Kaj Fried. “Heterogeneity and developmental connections between cell types inhabiting teeth.” Frontiers in physiology 8 (2017): 276035. ↩︎
  5. Meechan, J. G. “Supplementary routes to local anaesthesia.” International endodontic journal 35.11 (2002): 885-896. ↩︎

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