The short answer – a root canal treatment usually takes up to two or three appointments.
In this type of treatment, we remove infected or dead tissue from within the tooth. Infection if left untreated can damage the tooth, and not only that, it could also spread to other areas of your mouth. It is crucial that you treat infected root canals as quickly as possible. A root canal procedure could save a tooth that would otherwise need extracting!
Why do I need a number of appointments?
On your first visit, the dentist will proceed with removing any infected pulp in the tooth canal and apply an antibiotic solution. If you were suffering from discomfort prior to your visit to the dentist, you will likely experience some relief from that now, since the infection has been eliminated.
When you next see your dentist, they will clean the canal thoroughly and sterilize it. This is completed on the second appointment as the time in between the first and second visits is required to ensure the infection is completely removed, and no traces of it remain.
Once the root canal is cleaned and infection free, the dentist will fill up the root canals with a sterile compound to make sure no bacteria can reenter the area in future, similar to a filling but inside your tooth. This could happen on your second appointment, OR the dentist could decide to keep an eye on the tooth and fill it at the third appointment.
How much time will I be in the dental chair?
An absolute answer here is impossible to provide, as everyone is different, and every tooth is different. Each case needs to be tackled differently. However, as an estimate, the procedure will take between 90 minutes and 4 hours spread across the 2 to 3 appointments required to complete the treatment.
Why do the times vary so much?
There are different types of teeth in our mouths – namely, incisors, canines and molars (premolars and molars). They each have different number of roots and root formations and if we break it down – the incisors typically only have one root along with canines and premolars, however molars could have two to three or even sometimes four. A molar tooth with three or four roots will take a longer duration of time to treat than a canine with just one canal.
The roots of teeth aren’t like straight pipes, imagine them – more bendy like a straw. It can take time to carefully navigate around the twists and turns inside the root canal. It is also common for calcium to deposit in the canals as you grow older. These deposits are likely to be very tough and bone-like and will reduce the width of the canals. This could result in the dentist having to take longer to work his/her way around these calcified areas to make sure the full length of the root canal is completely clean and infection-free.
Whilst most root canal treatments take up to three appointment, each person is different. There are cases where the treatment only required 2 or even just a single appointment. Your dentist is the best person to advise you on your particular case.
If it’s time for a root canal, we recommend you see one of our experienced dentists for advice. Book an appointment and talk to our experienced team today.
Meet the Author
Dr Anmohl Tanda grew up in Australia and England but completed his dental studies at Griffith University on the Gold Coast. After graduation, he has worked mainly in the Lockyer Valley.