How Long Does Root Canal Take (And Why)?

Exact Answer : 60 to 90 minutes

Most people claim root canals to be a painful and time-consuming procedure. You will be happy to know that the Root Canal is not nearly as bad as some people may describe it to be! In fact, it is the infection within the tooth root that causes the pain and not the actual procedure. Root Canal is merely a simple procedure that your doctor will perform to eliminate this pain to get your mouth back to being normal.

The infection begins when a small amount of bacteria goes unchecked in your tooth root, and establishes colonies on your tooth enamel and causes decay that deepens with time. The deepened decay reaches the tooth root and causes extreme pain. Although it has started as a simple cavity, it may become a major oral health risk that will force your doctor to perform a root canal as soon as possible to reduce the pain.

How Long Does Root Canel Take?

A root canal procedure for a molar cavity will likely take about 60 to 90 minutes to complete. Root Canal procedures for tooth cavities other than molars will not take more than a full hour. It can be performed in a single appointment, however, depending on several factors, such as the severity of your tooth infection and the type of tooth, the procedure may require two appointments that are a week apart.

Your dentist or your endodontist will perform a procedure fairly similar to the filling of a cavity in the first appointment to subside the pain. In the second appointment, a crown would be added to protect your tooth as much as possible. You may also require a build up to support your tooth in addition to the crown.

Molars

The four-cusped teeth found at the back of your mouth is called Molars. Each molar can have up to four canals, because of which molars occupy the most time for a root canal procedure. It takes about an hour to remove, disinfect and fill a root alone. Therefore, a molar root canal may take 90 minutes or even more.

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Premolars

The teeth behind your anterior teeth but in front of your molars is called as Premolars. They only have one or two roots, because of which getting a root canal in a premolar will take about an hour or a bit more, depending on your infected tooth.

Canine and Incisors

The incisors and canine teeth are the teeth present in the front of your mouth. You use these teeth to tear and cut food as you chew. These teeth have only one root, because of which a root canal on them takes comparatively less time. Root Canal can still take 45 minutes to an hour, without including getting a crown put in if needed. You will have to add at least an hour more to your estimated time, if only your doctor is able to prepare the crown in the same day in their cabin. You may also have to wait a short time after the procedure to ensure your tooth has healed properly and it has no other complications before placing the crown permanently.

In summary:

Type Time
Molars 60 – 90 minutes
Premolars 60 minutes
Incisors and Canine 45 – 60 minutes

Why Does Root Canal Take That Long?

A root canal takes a significant time length as your nerves require to be carved out properly, followed by being rinsed, and being disinfected. Some teeth may have multiple pulp canals, while others may have just one, which causes the time differences in root canal procedures in different people. Set-up and preparation of Anesthesia may also occupy some time.

The Root Canal procedure involves several simple steps. Written below is what you can expect at your dentist appointment :

  1. In the first step, the entire infected area of your tooth or teeth will be numbed with a local anesthetic.
  2. Your dentist will now use a sterilized equipment to drill a small hole in your infected tooth. Your damaged tissue or infected cells inside the tooth will be then slowly cleaned.
  3. The inside of your tooth will be rinsed several times and an appropriate medication may be placed inside your tooth to kill off any remaining bacteria, if the infection has not been eliminated completely.
  4. In this step, an X-ray of your tooth or teeth will be taken to make sure the root has been completely cleaned.
  5. If you have to come for a second appointment, a dental crown will be placed and a temporary material will be used to fill the hole in your tooth. If your dentist wishes to finish the root canal procedure in a single appointment, a more permanent restoration will be placed.
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A crown may be placed in the follow-up appointment to protect and permanently seal your teeth. Dental crowns are important after a root canal procedure as back teeth are used in chewing.

Conclusion

Root canals are a necessary procedure to heal from infection or inflammation in the soft tissue or pulp present inside as well as outside of one of your teeth. In this procedure, the damaged tissue is carefully removed and the infected tooth is sealed so that new bacteria does not infect it again. Root canals are extremely common and it can be performed within 60 – 90 minutes depending on the severity of your tooth infection. The procedure can be performed by either a dentist or an endodontist, however, endodontists are more specialized for root canal treatment. Although most people claim Root canal to be a painful procedure, it is the infection that causes the pain and not the procedure itself. It will help you completely heal from the infection and prevent further complications.

References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1079210402000343
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/iej.12429
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