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How Long Does A Root Canal Take?

The duration of a root canal treatment depends on the extent of the infection in your tooth and how much damage is present to surrounding tissues. An average root canal procedure will take 30-60 minutes, and some may require one or two appointments. More prominent teeth with multiple roots can take up to an hour and a half to complete.

What Exactly Is a Root Canal?

A root canal is a standard cosmetic dental procedure used to treat infections in the tooth pulp. The infection is usually caused by a cavity that has reached the pulp or by trauma to the tooth.

Your experienced dentist will first numb the area around the tooth with a local anesthetic. Then, they will use special tools to remove the decay from the tooth. The dentist will remove the infected tissue if there is an infection in the pulp. Then, the roots are cleaned, and a sealant is applied. Often, you will return in 2-3 weeks to have a crown placed.

This treatment removes the infected or damaged pulp from the inside of a tooth. A root canal treatment aims to save the tooth from extraction and restore it to full function.

What to expect during your root canal appointments?

A root canal can take anywhere from one to three visits to the dentist, depending on the case’s complexity. Each appointment could last up to an hour and a half.

You can expect a consult for the first appointment. During the second appointment, the dentist will perform the root canal. A follow-up appointment will be booked 2-3 weeks later to ensure all is well.

You may need additional appointments if a crown or cap is to be placed after fully recovering from the procedure.

What Risks are Involved in a Root Canal?

Complications following a root canal can include infection, damage to the teeth, or even nerve damage. These complications are rare, but it is essential to be aware of them.

Though still rare, the most frequently reported complication is root canal failure. This can happen for many reasons, even years after the initial root canal. Usually, this occurs because the initial infection was not 100% resolved or the tooth becomes re-infected.

The dentist will schedule a repeat root canal and prescribe antibiotics to resolve the infection in these cases. It’s important to remember that most root canals (over 90%) are successful. If you think your root canal has failed, contact a dentist as soon as possible.

Rare Root Canal Complications Could Include:

  • strong allergic reaction to the anesthetic
  • damage to other teeth
  • nerve damage
  • tooth abscess
  • sepsis
  • damage to sinus cavities

Does a root canal hurt?

It depends. Some people experience minor discomfort during the procedure, while others find the surgery relatively painless. Generally, any pain experienced following the surgery should go away within a few days. However, contact your dentist immediately if you experience severe pain after surgery.

How long should I expect to recover from a root canal treatment?

Some people may feel back to normal from a root canal treatment within a few days, while others may take a little longer. If you are young and your body heals quickly, you will need a shorter period than those old. Besides, if your oral health is excellent, your healing time will be shorter than those with bad oral health. It is important to follow your dentist’s instructions carefully following your surgery and avoid any strenuous activity.

Are Root Canal Teeth Harder to Extract?

A root canal tooth is much harder to remove than a regular tooth. Dentists should remove the roots one at a time for the best chance of success. Once the roots are gone, they can check for any damage that may have been caused during removals, like cysts or infections.

Can a Root Canal Fail?

A root canal can sometimes fail, although this is rare. If you suspect you have developed an infection or that your treatment failed, contact your dentist immediately.

The signs of a failed root canal are the same as the problem that initially brought you to the dentist. Usually, you’ll experience tooth pain that can radiate through your jaw. Biting down or chewing can make the pain worse.

You might also have signs of an infection, like a fever or chills. Other symptoms to watch out for include swollen glands, swollen gums, or an abscess on your gum line.

Is It Easier to Extract a Tooth Instead of a Root Canal?

Although root canals are sometimes more complicated and may take longer, they are still the best option in most cases. Extraction is a more invasive procedure and can often lead to further damage to the teeth.

If you have ever had a tooth pulled, you know that after the extraction, the remaining teeth will shift into the gap left behind. Your teeth may appear to shift, look crooked or develop gaps.

If you decide to have your tooth removed instead of a root canal, be sure to ask about receiving an implant or bridge.

Does a Crown or Cap Need to be Placed After a Root Canal?

Evidence shows that placing a crown after a root canal procedure is critical to the tooth’s long-term health. Having a crown can help prevent re-infection and damage to the tooth.

Having a crown placed isn’t strictly required. However, it’s almost always recommended. The dentist can sometimes set the crown during the same appointment as your root canal. A custom crown requires several weeks to be fabricated, so you may have to return for a second appointment.

Can I Drive After a Root Canal?

You may receive a local anesthetic or nitrous oxide (laughing gas) during your procedure. Following the appointment, you can drive immediately.

If your procedure is more complicated, you need conscious sedation. Medications used for conscious sedation are more potent, and the effects will last longer. You will need to have someone with you to drive you home after the procedure. You should avoid driving or operating heavy machines for several hours until the effects completely disappear.

Is a Root Canal My Only Option?

A root canal is the only cosmetic dental option to preserve the natural tooth. Sometimes, if the damage is too severe, a root canal is impossible, and the natural tooth must be extracted.

Since a tooth extraction is more invasive, with potential complications, a root canal is the preferred option. If you remove the tooth, be prepared for a more extended recovery period and a greater risk of infection post-procedure.

Root canals are a standard dental procedure many people will need at some point in their lives. The good news is that they are usually not very complicated or painful, and most people recover within a week or two. However, there are some risks associated with root canals, so it’s essential to be aware of them before you decide to undergo the procedure. Don’t hesitate to ask your dentist if you have any other questions about root canals that we didn’t cover here.


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