Most patients come to our practice without knowing much about root canals. This is understandable—dental fillings or even crowns are quite common, but not everyone is familiar with what happens during a root canal treatment and what they should expect from the process. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the basics, including how long a root canal procedure takes, what happens during the procedure, and the recovery process.
What Happens During a Root Canal Procedure
Root canal treatments are needed when the pulp tissue inside a tooth is infected or inflamed. This procedure allows us to save your natural tooth from needing to be extracted, which is the best outcome for your oral health. Although many patients come to our office believing that root canals are painful, they are pleasantly surprised to find that their root canal actually relieves their pain instead! With modern techniques and local anesthetic, today’s root canals are no more painful than getting a cavity filled.
Before your root canal procedure begins, Dr. Ball will numb the affected tooth and the tissue surrounding it to keep you comfortable. Your tooth is opened, allowing us to view and access the pulp chamber and roots. Dr. Ball removes the inflamed or infected pulp tissue, then the canal spaces are cleaned, reshaped, and disinfected. The pulp is replaced with a material called gutta percha, then your tooth is sealed with a filling.
How Long It Takes to Get a Root Canal
Unlike many other dental procedures, there’s a great deal of variation when it comes to how long a root canal procedure takes. If, for example, there is significant inflammation or infection inside the tooth, Dr. Ball may need to apply a medication during your first appointment and complete the treatment during another visit. If you need a crown to seal your tooth, you’ll need to schedule an appointment with your general dentist; this, too, may take two appointments.
The anatomy of your tooth matters too. Naturally, complex cases will take longer to treat. Root canals usually take between 60 to 90 minutes. For more complicated procedures, you may require two 90 minute appointments, plus one to two additional visits with your general dentist for your restoration.
Recovery from a Root Canal Procedure
Related to the question of how long it takes to get a root canal, you may also be wondering how much time you’ll need to take off of work. It’s quite common for patients to return to work or school immediately after their root canal procedure. You’ll likely experience some sensitivity on the treated tooth for a few days after your root canal, but there’s no need for rest or downtime like there is for a tooth extraction.
That said, your mouth will be numb for up to a few hours after your root canal treatment, so you may wish to take the rest of the day off if your job involves a lot of speaking or interacting with the public.