How Long Does a Root Canal Procedure Take?

A root canal treatment is a dental procedure where the damaged or diseased root of a tooth is removed. The purpose of the procedure is to alleviate pain and prevent the infection in the tooth from getting worse. The procedure may be essential in saving a natural tooth. When the infection in a tooth is left untreated it can advance to the point of putting the tooth and nearby teeth in danger. If your dentist suggests you need a root canal, it may help to get more information about the procedure including how long you should expect it to take. Below is more information on the root canal procedure.

The Two-Visit Procedure

In general, root canal procedures occur over one or two dental visits. For a two-visit root canal approach, your dentist will recommend that the visits are scheduled within one week. It is common for the two-visit approach to be used for a damaged or diseased molar. This is because molars often have more than one root to be removed and the procedure takes longer and is more invasive. Here is the breakdown of the procedure based on the one or two visit approach:

  • Visit #1: At the first visit a small opening is drilled into the tooth. The dentist then has access to remove the diseased root and clean out the canal of the tooth. The location of this hole will depend on which tooth is being treated. During this cleaning the dentist will make sure all of the infected tissue is removed and the tooth canal is clean. After the tooth canal is cleaned, the dentist will place a temporary filling in the tooth to keep it safe until the follow-up visit.
  • Visit #2: At the second visit, a permanent filling will be placed in the treated tooth. This permanent fillings can be made from numerous materials and the choice of filling is generally made by the dentist. Once the permanent filling is placed, the dentist will ensure that the treated tooth is strong and matches the nearby teeth.

The One-Visit Procedure

For less advanced infections a dentist may recommend completing the procedure in one visit. This approach will minimize the need to reopen the tooth hole and reduce discomfort for the patient. The one visit procedure is similar to the two-visit procedure.

  • Visit #1: The dentist will start by creating an opening in the tooth. Next they will remove the diseased pulp and clean out the canal completely. During the one visit approach, the dentist will then set a permanent filling in the tooth. Depending on how advanced the infection is, completing all of these steps in one visit can be long and tiring for the patient.

In general, deciding which procedure approach is the best for you depends on how severe the infection is in the tooth and which tooth needs to be treated. Your dentist will help make this decision based on what is best for you and your oral health needs.

How Much Does a Root Canal Cost?