You don't need to be worried if your dentist or endodontist recommends a root canal procedure to treat your damaged or diseased tooth. In fact, millions of teeth are treated and saved this way each year. Root canals often relieve pain and make teeth healthy again. If you suspect or have been told you might need such a procedure, you might be wondering how long a root canal might take.
What is a Root Canal?
A root canal, also known as endodontic treatment, is a procedure where a dental specialist removes infected or inflamed soft tissue, known as dental pulp, from inside a tooth. This pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue that nourish the tooth's root and maintain its health.
When this pulp becomes damaged or deteriorates due to injury, infection, or extensive decay, it can lead to a painful abscess at the tooth's root. A root canal is the necessary procedure to relieve pain, save the tooth, and prevent reinfection.
Who Performs a Root Canal?
Root canals can be done by a dentist or an endodontist, a specialized dental professional with additional training in dental pulp procedures, pain management, and diagnosis.
How Long Does a Root Canal Procedure Take?
The duration of a root canal varies depending on factors like the number of canals needing treatment and tooth type. Generally:
- Canines and incisors (front teeth) with a single root are faster to treat.
- Premolars (middle teeth) with one or two roots may take an hour or more.
- Molars (back teeth) with up to four canals can take 90 minutes or more.
What Does the Root Canal Procedure Involve?
A root canal is a standard, in-house dental procedure similar to a filling. The steps typically include:
- Numbing the area with local anesthesia.
- Creating a small hole in the top of the tooth to access the infected pulp, which is then removed.
- Cleaning and disinfecting the inside of the tooth, followed by an application of antibiotics to prevent reinfection.
- Filling and sealing the tooth with a paste or synthetic material, then applying a temporary filling and sealant.
- A follow-up appointment may be needed for a permanent filling or crown placement.
Is a Root Canal Painful?
Root canals are performed under local anesthesia, so they are generally no more painful than routine dental procedures. Some mild discomfort or soreness may occur for 24-48 hours post-treatment, manageable with over-the-counter pain relief. The pain from the infected tooth is usually more significant than any post-procedure discomfort.
Are Root Canals Necessary?
Unfortunately, teeth can't self-heal, especially when infected. Without treatment, the infection and inflammation can spread, necessitating a root canal or tooth extraction. An extraction is a more complex and costly procedure, requiring replacement with an implant, crown, bridge, or partial denture for proper oral function. Root canals offer a more conservative approach to preserving natural teeth.
Do You Need a Root Canal? Contact Smile Shack Today
If you are experiencing pain or other dental problems, contact Smile Shack today at 631-928-7500 or online. Our dental professionals can thoroughly examine your teeth, gums, and mouth to determine the most appropriate treatment for you. Root canals may sound scary, but you're in good hands with the professionals at the Smile Shack. We will make the experience as pleasant and comfortable as possible.