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How Long Does a Root Canal Take?

The duration of a root canal will totally vary depending on the particular factors that go into the case. Let’s identify those factors first then talk about the different procedures determining how long the actual root canal itself might take.

The Reasons for a Root Canal

Underneath that pearly white surface of the tooth, the enamel, you will find another hard material called dentin. Then in the center of the tooth is soft tissue called pulp. The pulp is full of blood vessels, connective tissues and nerves that deliver nutrition to the tooth. This pulp runs the length of the tooth, from the crown to the root. If you develop a cavity or crack in the tooth this pulp is susceptible to bacteria and disease. Once the pulp is infected it will develop pus and the pus will become an abscess. This abscess will begin to destroy bone and tissue around the tooth and will become quite painful and must be removed.

The Procedure Itself

The procedure itself is reasonably simple and straight forward. Once a local anesthetic is administered a hole is drilled at the top of the tooth. For a front tooth it will be at the back, for a molar it will be through the crown. Using very small tools the dentist will proceed to remove the pulp in its entirety. Once removed the empty pulp chamber and root will be cleaned to remove any possible remaining bacteria. Then rubbery material called gutta-percha is put into the chamber and then the tooth is sealed with cement.

Why would the Procedure Take Longer?

Sometimes a root canal may take two visits to do properly. Since the 1990s, with the advancements in technology, just one long appointment might be enough to complete the procedure. Then, depending on the tooth, it may be highly recommended that the tooth is protected moving forward with a crown, so this would be an additional procedure. The factors that would determine the approach would start with the tooth itself. Does it have one, two or even three roots? Then we need to consider the condition of the tooth regarding the amount of infection involved. Your sensitivity will play into the decision. It may be necessary to clean out the pulp chamber and let the tooth and surrounding area settle down before completing. It might be advantageous also in regards to confirming that all bacteria and infection is gone prior to sealing the tooth. A medication can be placed inside the tooth between the two appointments to absolutely disinfect the canal system. A simple and straight-forward, single root canal can be completed in 30 to 60 minutes. A multi-root procedure may take up to 90 minutes. If there are two appointments necessary they usually are scheduled within a week from each other. Then the possible crown would be discussed and added after the root canal was successfully completed. The benefit to having this procedure is you are able to keep a natural tooth which contributes to your smile and biting and chewing efficiencies.

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