How Long Does a Root Canal Take?

How Long Does a Root Canal Take?
Author: Espire Dental Posted: May 23rd, 2023 Category:

One of the biggest misconceptions about root canals is that it takes a long time. 

Perhaps the most misunderstood dental procedure is the root canal, with the main misconception being it’s extremely painful. Another myth is that a root canal is a long, drawn-out operation requiring multiple appointments. 

Actually, a root canal doesn’t take that long at all. Over 25 million root canals are performed each year and completed in one or two office visits lasting between 30 to 60 minutes each. A root canal is a fairly straightforward procedure. After you’re done, you can quickly return to your routine. 

Here’s what you can expect during and after a root canal.

A step-by-step guide to a root canal

When decay and/or infection has reached the inner pulp of the tooth where blood vessels and nerves reside, a root canal is the standard treatment to reverse the damage. A constant, throbbing toothache, sensitivity to hot and cold, and pain when biting down are the classic symptoms of a tooth needing a root canal. An infection that has spread to the gums may produce a pimple or pus. 

A root canal can save a tooth that might need to be extracted. And it’s always better to preserve as much of your natural tooth as possible. 

Besides taking an antibiotic prescription, no special preparation is typically needed beforehand. You can eat normally before the appointment, but you should stop smoking. Then it’s time for the procedure:

Anesthesia is administered. Local anesthesia will numb the area around the tooth. Nitrous oxide, an oral sedative, or intravenous sedation may be given if you suffer from extreme dental anxiety or are particularly sensitive to pain.

The pulp is removed. Using special instruments, your dentist cleans out the pulp and the canals in the tooth of decay and infection. Because of the anesthesia, you shouldn’t feel anything during this stage.

The filling is placed. After the pulp and canals are disinfected, the dentist fills the canals with a rubbery substance known as gutta-percha.

The tooth is sealed. To prevent bacteria from re-entering the treated tooth, a temporary dental filling seals the tooth. 

The tooth is restored. About two weeks after the root canal, you’ll return to the dentist for a permanent restoration, likely a crown. The crown protects the tooth and restores your bite. 

Depending on how extensive the decay is, a root canal should take no more than an hour, probably less. Your recovery period will also be brief.

Your root canal aftercare

Minor soreness is to be expected following a root canal. Over-the-counter pain relievers can reduce the discomfort, and a cold compress can alleviate swelling. Contact your dentist if the pain and swelling don’t subside in a few days.

Stick to softer foods such as cooked carrots, yogurt, and pasta for a few days after the root canal. And chew on the opposite side of the root canal. You can brush and floss normally, but be careful not to irritate the around the treated tooth. Rinsing with warm water and salt can help with any inflammation and reduce the chance of an infection. To support healing, refrain from tobacco and alcohol.

While you can return to normal activities, avoid any exercise that involves moving your head up and down for a week or so. Elevate your head at night to limit swelling. Besides these few restrictions, you’ll recover from your root canal in no time!

Schedule your root canal at Espire Dental in Mission Valley

Schedule an appointment at Espire’s Mission Valley, CA, location today! Our highly trained dentists have performed hundreds of successful root canals and can walk you through yours too! Don’t live near our Mission Valley, CA, office? Find one of our other locations near you.

Mission Valley, CA
8989 Rio San Diego Drive
Suite 170
San Diego, CA 92108