Let's get to the root of it: there are many myths about root canals. However, it is a standard procedure that can restore oral health, with over 15 million root canal procedures performed yearly. So, how long do root canals take?

Several factors impact how long the procedure takes, including the types of root canals used and the extent of infection. But what is consistent is that getting a root canal can save your teeth, and there is no need to worry about the procedure.

Read on if you're interested in learning more about the root canal procedure and how long it takes. Here is everything you need to know about getting a root canal.

What Is a Root Canal?

A root canal is similar to a routine filling. Your dental specialist will remove the infected soft tissue around the tooth, cleaning the surface of your tooth and then using a filling to seal the area.

The soft tissue is the dental pulp, filled with blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissues. They feed your tooth root to keep them functioning and healthy. So, when the pulp becomes damaged, it will begin to decay, leading to uncomfortable symptoms and severe infection.

A root canal replaces this pulp and protects the tooth. There are many reasons why infection happens, including untreated cavities or damage to the tooth due to trauma. More than one in four adults in the US has untreated tooth decay, which can lead to severe consequences if they do not seek treatment.

Signs You Need a Root Canal

Sometimes, you might not notice you have an infected tooth. However, several symptoms can indicate you need a root canal. You may experience all symptoms or only a handful, but they can worsen the longer the tooth goes untreated:

  • Consistent tooth pain that also radiates to other teeth and face
  • Hot and cold sensitivity when eating or drinking
  • Pimples or boils on the gums
  • Swollen gums
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Chipped, cracked, or loose tooth
  • Pain when pressure applied

Do not put off seeing your dentist if you are experiencing unusual or uncomfortable oral symptoms. Your dentist will be able to determine what treatment you need, which could be a root canal. The treatment will stop symptoms and help restore your oral health once again.

The Root Canal Procedure

Usually, a dentist or an endodontist, who specializes in procedures dealing with the dental pulp and preserving natural teeth, will carry out the root canal procedure. Getting a root canal is usually a standard procedure that follows these steps:

  • Local anesthesia injected to numb the tooth and gums
  • Isolation of tooth with a small rubber dam to keep it dry
  • A small hole is drilled into the tooth to expose the pulp
  • Pulp is removed
  • Root canals and pulp area cleaned and disinfected
  • The dentist will then fill the canals
  • Temporary filling to seal the tooth or crown

Usually, it is recommended to have a crown to restore your bite and protect the area long-term. Sometimes you can receive the crown if it is ready; otherwise, you will have to return to have it installed.

Sometimes oral or intravenous (IV) sedation is used when people struggle with dental anxiety. You will discuss this with your dentist in advance to see if it is an option and if they recommend it for your case.

How Long Do Root Canals Take?

One of the most common questions patients have is how long do root canals take. Several factors impact the length of time, including the set-up, preparation, cleaning, and sealing of the tooth.

Usually, it takes one or two appointments to complete the procedure. Sometimes the first appointment is to remove the pulp, and the second is to clean the root canal, seal it, and install the crown.

On average, root canal appointments take 1 to 2 hours to complete. The exact time depends on how many roots your tooth has and how bad your infection is.

For example, molars are at the back of your mouth and can occasionally have up to four roots. In contrast, canines and incisors are in the front of your teeth, with one root. Premolars are the middle teeth, which usually have one or two roots.

So, if you need root canals for molars and premolars, the appointment can take longer, closer to 2 hours. If you have a severe infection, cleaning and rinsing will also take longer to ensure all the pulp is removed. The crown installation will also increase the length of the appointment and usually requires a second appointment.

Is Getting a Root Canal Painful?

Getting a root canal is similar to other dental procedures, such as fillings. You receive local anesthesia, so the area is numb during the treatment. Afterward, as the area heals, you may experience some mild discomfort for a few days. Your dental specialist will recommend specific pain relief that you can take if you have some soreness or numbness.

Root Canal Preparation

It is also important to know the preparation involved when getting a root canal. Usually, the first step of preparation is when you see your dentist, and they determine whether you need a root canal or not. You may have x-rays taken to help confirm whether you need a root canal.

You will also get the opportunity to ask questions, which can help relieve your anxiety. More than 60% of people experience anxiety when going to the dentist, so know it is entirely natural to feel nervous before a procedure. You can communicate this with your dental specialist, so they are aware and can help you feel relaxed.

Usually, you will be told to avoid alcohol and tobacco for 24 hours before your procedure to reduce to risk of bleeding problems during the root canal installation. Alcohol can also increase risks such as dry mouth and blood clots.

Other preparation steps include:

  • Completing any required dental treatment before the root canals
  • Eating and drinking several hours before the appointment
  • Preparing the right food for recovery
  • Having pain relievers ready
  • Ask for a ride home from a loved one if needed

Sometimes you may have to complete another dental procedure before having the root canals. Eating and drinking before your procedure are also important because local anesthesia can take several hours to wear off. Plus, you may have to wait several hours before consuming foods to let the area heal.

It can be helpful to prepare some foods that are easy to consume in advance. These include smoothies, pudding, soft fruits, and yogurt. Your dental specialist will recommend specific foods for you.

It can also be helpful to ask for a ride home in advance so you do not have to worry about driving after getting root canals.

Benefits of a Root Canal

Getting a root canal does not have to be a difficult process. It is natural to have some reservations, especially with the many myths that circulate about root canals. However, with the proper preparation and provider, root canals offer many benefits.

Prevents Tooth Loss and Saves the Natural Tooth

There are many reasons why saving your natural tooth is the best option. Root canals help prevent the need for more extensive dental work and allow you to preserve your natural smile. Plus, you can continue to eat the foods you love, and recovery time is minimal.

Enhances Oral and Overall Health

Getting root canals also helps prevent infection from worsening to neighboring teeth. It prevents more oral health complications and jaw degeneration as a result. It also helps reduce the risks of other conditions linked to poor oral health, such as diabetes, gastrointestinal infections, and heart disease.

Minimal Pain and Quick Recovery

Another positive of root canal options is that there is minimal discomfort during and post-treatment. You can return to your daily activities quickly, and the procedure is also fast. The procedure also involves minimal discomfort because of the local anesthetic.

Cost-effective Dental Treatment

Getting root canals is a more cost-effective option than other dental treatments that you may require if you do not take action. Dentures, bridges, implants, and other dental procedures cost more time and money due to what is involved. You would require more follow-up appointments and aftercare.

Root canals are an efficient option to take care of your teeth and enhance oral health. You can then consider treatment to celebrate your root canals, such as teeth whitening and other cosmetic dentistry procedures.

The Best Root Canal Treatment

Now you know the answer to the question, how long do root canals take? However, when you go for your own consultation, you will get a more specific answer based on your oral health needs. The next step is to reserve your appointment to get your root canals.

Are you based in Dr. Phillips? Aura Dental Spa is here to help with all your dental care needs. We utilize technology such as computerized anesthesia to make your experience as comfortable as possible.

If you have a dental emergency, contact us right away at 407-698-5678. Alternatively, contact us by filling in our online form to request an appointment.