Beneath the white enamel of teeth is the tooth’s pulp which can become infected or inflamed if the tooth has started to decay.
This infection can spread throughout the entire tooth and down the roots. A root canal is the remedy to this and is designed to eliminate bacteria from the infected root canal and prevent it getting reinfected.
When you are receiving a root canal, it will involve removing the infected pulp and carefully cleaning and disinfecting the tooth before sealing it back up.
While it obviously depends on the person and the condition of the teeth, this procedure can sometimes take a bit longer than expected, however it won’t last long enough to disrupt your day too much.
Here’s everything you need to know about the root canal treatment including how long the average procedure usually takes for the majority of dentists.
What Happens In Root Canal Treatment?
Your dentist will most probably begin by just taking a few x-rays in order to give them a clear picture of the state of the pulp and roots and to see if any further damage has been caused.
Once the dentists have an idea of the extent of the infection or inflammation, they will then use a local anesthetic painkilling medicine to numb the tooth and gum around it to avoid any uncomfortable pain during the procedure.
If the tooth has already died and it’s no longer sensitive, local anesthetic may not be necessary.
The first step of repairing the tooth is removing the pulp, a dentist will usually place a rubber sheet around the tooth to ensure it’s dry, however this will also prevent you from swallowing any chemicals the dentist puts next to the tooth that could be volatile.
The dentist will then carefully clean the tooth, they will use small files to enlarge the canals to a regular shape making them easy to fill.
Depending on the tooth the time this will take can vary, front incisor and canine teeth only have 1 canal root for example while premolars have 2 or 3 and will take longer.
After this stage a root canal filling will then be inserted to seal the tooth and prevent infection.
Once the tooth is cleaned out and repaired with a filling, they may also add a crown to prevent the tooth from chipping or fracturing in the future.
How Long Is Root Canal Treatment?
This largely depends on the state of the tooth you want to repair and how many root canals it has.
For teeth with one canal such as canines and incisors, a single appointment will usually only be from 30 minutes to an hour.
For teeth with more than one root however it can take around 90 minutes on average.
This includes all necessary steps such as the dentist’s general set up, applying local anesthesia and treatment preparation.
The teeth that will take the longest to repair are molars at the back of the mouth, these contain up to four roots and can often take a minimum of 90 minutes to fully clean out.
A regular procedure will usually require 2 appointments, if the root is an easy fix then this usually means one appointment is for checking the tooth and the second is simply removing and replacing the pulp.
However it can take more sessions if the dentist feels it will take longer, especially if there are more roots to repair, though this usually won’t require more than 4 visits at most if a lot of work needs to be done.
If your doctor suggests installing a crown onto the tooth, this can often require an extra appointment.
This is in order to allow time to guarantee the tooth has healed before a crown is permanently placed.
A root canal procedure will therefore on average take 2-3 sessions with each lasting from 30 to 90 minutes depending on how much reparation work needs to be done, however it can require more sessions if extra cleaning is needed or a crown is being installed.
Is A Root Canal Procedure Painful?
Luckily a lot of procedures that were once very painful in dentistry have come a long way to the point where many are now all but painless, and this includes root canal treatment.
Any pain during the treatment is largely mitigated by the local anesthesia you will be given by your dentist, this numbs the tooth and gums surrounding it ensuring it remains senseless through the whole procedure.
Because it is a major dental procedure, you certainly can feel some discomfort especially when the dentist needs to drill to get into the root, however this is only slight and not enough to be considered extremely painful especially when mixed with the anesthesia.
It actually often causes far more pain to leave an infected tooth untreated which can usually lead to an emergency root canal, these are not only far more costly but can also hurt quite a bit more since the dentist will need to repair the tooth quicker than normal.
Once you get home and the anesthesia starts to wear off, you most probably will feel slight discomfort on the bottom of the tooth and the gums surrounding it.
Over the counter medication such as Advil will be able to manage this for a few hours until the pain will begin to wear off usually around a day after the procedure.
Repairing the root canal of a tooth if you feel discomfort in the gums or feel like the tooth may be infected is vital.
Luckily the procedure is easier than ever and can now be finished in just a handful of sessions each often being no longer than 90 minutes maximum.
This is always well worth doing to avoid any further pain down the line that can lead to more serious emergency treatments needing to be done, however an early root canal treatment can restore a tooth to being bright and healthy in no time.