A root canal treatment will take two to three appointments to complete successfully.
Root canal therapy involves eliminating infected or dead tissue from within a tooth. If the infection is left untreated, it will not only damage the tooth, but it could lead to serious complications by spreading to other areas of your mouth as well. It is imperative to understand that an infected root canal has to be treated as quickly as possible – this way it could save your tooth without having to need an extraction.
Why do I need a number of appointments?
On your first day, the dentist will extract any infected pulp in the canal and put on an antibiotic solution in the area. If you were experiencing discomfort before your visit, you might feel some relief now the infection has been removed and medication has been applied.
At the next appointment, the canal will be thoroughly cleaned and sterilized. The time in between the first visit and this appointment is important as this is to ensure that the infection has been completely removed and there are no lingering traces left behind.
Your dentist may decide to go ahead and complete the root canal treatment on your second visit, or they could decide to monitor the tooth further and fill it on a third appointment. Once your dentist has confirmed that the root canal is clean and infection free, they will fill the root canals with a sterile compound to ensure no bacteria can re-enter this area again. It is similar to a filling, but inside your tooth.
How much time will I be in the dental chair?
It’s difficult to put an exact time to it as everyone is different and every case is different. However, approximately, the procedure could take between 90 minutes and four hours spread over the three appointments required to complete the root canal.
Why do the times vary so much?
Incisors, canines, premolars and molars are the different types of teeth we have in our mouths. Each of these different types of teeth have a different number of roots and root formations. The incisors, canines and premolars usually have only one root and molars could have two to three or even sometimes four roots. A molar with 3-4 roots will take longer to treat than a tooth with just the one canal.
The roots of your teeth are not like straight pipes, they resemble a bendy straw like structure more. It can take time to work around the twists and turns inside the tooth canal. It is also common for calcium deposits to form in the canals as you age and these are likely to be quite tough and bone like in nature which will reduce the width of the canals. This means the dentist would have to take more time to navigate around these calcified parts to ensure the full length of the root canal is entirely clean and infection-free.
While most root canal procedures take three appointments, each case is different. The treatment could take just 2 or one appointment in some cases! Your dentist can help you with this and advise your according to your own unique case.
If you’re experiencing dental discomfort and need a root canal treatment, we recommend you see a dentist for more advice. Book an appointment with us now!
Meet the Author
Dr Kapil Raniga
Dental Surgeon (BDSc Qld)
Dr Kapil Raniga grew up in Brisbane where he went to school at John Paul College on an academic scholarship. He attended the University of Queensland where he successfully completed his Bachelor of Dental Science degree. After working in Ipswich for several years, he opened our Plainland practice.