How Long Does A Root Canal Take?

A root canal procedure usually takes two to three appointments.

Root canal therapy involves removing infected or dead tissue from within the tooth. Infection if left untreated can not only damage the tooth but can also spread to other areas of the mouth. It’s very important to treat infected root canals as quickly as possible. A root canal treatment can save a tooth that would otherwise require extraction.

Why do I need a number of appointments?

At your first appointment, the dentist will remove any infected pulp in the canal and apply an antibiotic solution. If you were suffering discomfort before your visit, you’ll likely experience relief now the infection has been removed.

When you next see the dentist, they will thoroughly clean and sterilise the canal. This is completed in a second appointment as the time between visits is needed to ensure the infection was completely removed and no traces are lingering.

Once the root canal is cleaned and infection-free, the dentist will fill the root canals with a sterile compound to ensure no future bacteria can reenter the area, similar to a filling but inside your tooth. This may happen during your second appointment, or the dentist may decide to monitor the tooth and fill it at a third appointment.

How much time will I be in the dental chair?

It’s impossible to give an absolute answer here as everyone is different and every tooth is different. However, as an estimate the procedure takes between 90 minutes and four hours spread across the three appointments to complete.

Why do the times vary so much?

We have different types of teeth in our mouths – incisors, canines and molars (pre molars and molars). They all have a different number of roots and root formations. Typically your incisors, canines and premolars only have one root, molars will have two to three and sometimes four. A molar tooth with three to four root canals will take longer to treat than a canine with only one canal.

The roots of teeth are not straight like a pipe, imagine them more like a bendy straw, it can take time to navigate the twists and turns. It’s also common for calcium to deposit in the root canals of your teeth as you age. These deposits are very tough (like bone) and reduce the width of the canals. As a result, it can take the dentist longer to get past these calcified areas to ensure the full length of the canal is infection free and clean.

While most root canal therapies take three appointments, everyone is different. There are instances where procedures only require two or even a single appointment. Your dentist will be able to advise you on your particular case.

Root canal procedures are painless – Learn more

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If you’re experiencing tooth pain we recommend you see a dentist for more advice. Book an appointment to talk to our experienced dentists now.