Root Canal: How Long Does it Take?

man at the dentist

Dental health is an important facet of your well-being. However, addressing even common mental dental problems has attained a reputation of being painful or unpleasant. And few dental surgeries have attained as much infamy as the root canal.

When people think of unpleasant experiences at a dentist’s clinic, the root canal always finds its way into their thoughts. Despite this negative reputation, root canals are essential for preventing dental emergencies. As many as 15 million root canal procedures are performed per annum, making it a common if infamous procedure. A little information about this important procedure can go a long way with overcoming dental anxiety.

Today, learn how long does a root canal take, how can you manage the pain of a root canal and how you can make root canal recovery easier.

What is a Root Canal?

dentist's assistant
Root canals are an important type of dental surgery that prevents worse conditions.

A root canal is a dental surgical procedure that is supposed to restore your mouth from the effects of an infected tooth. This procedure can become a necessity because of the nature of the infection. Unlike routine cavities, which happen when bacteria and acids corrodes the enamel protecting your teeth, these types of infection sickens the pulp and root matter inside of your teeth. This can happen because you had an accident that damaged the cells inside.

Common events that can damage the pulp inside your teeth include vehicular accidents and contact sports such as boxing. It can also happen because of a cracked tooth that lets in bacteria.

A root canal essentially hollows out an infected tooth, preventing the corruption from spreading to your jaw muscles. The hollow tooth is then filled or capped, preventing the need for extraction or dentures.

How Long Does a Root Canal Take?

patient on a dental chair
How long a root canal takes is surprisingly short.

Dental technology has progressed far along enough that most of the pain and agony associated with a root canal is a thing of the past.

Depending on the complexity of the surgery involved, your root canal can take between 60 to perhaps 90 minutes. During this period, the dentist has to complete four steps. How long a root canal takes will depend on how smoothly your dentist can finish them.

  1. Anesthetizing

First, you dentist will apply a local anesthetic into your mouth, specifically around the area of the infected tooth. There should not be any real pain during the anesthetizing process, only some pressure and discomfort. Sometimes you may feel a pinching sensation or a slight burn but this should dissipate swiftly. Once your mouth is numbed, the dentist proceeds to the next step.

  1. Pulp Extraction

The dentist will use a small tool to drill a tiny opening on the crown of your tooth. Thanks to the anesthetic, you won’t feel anything while this is happening. Once the top is open, they will use a special file to carefully clean away the small canals, removing the infected pulp.

  1. Antibiotic Application

After the dentist has cleared out all the infected pulp, the dentist will use a topical antibiotic swam to destroy all traces of infection on the area. This ensures that the infection doesn’t resurface. After the antibiotic has been applied, the dentist will seal the empty canals to prevent new material from entering them.

  1. Filling In

The final step is filling in the empty shell of your tooth, first with a temporary filling. This allows your tooth to heal a little before you have go back for its permanent replacement. The dentist will then put new sealant on the hole drilled at the top of your tooth or replace the top of the cracked tooth with a porcelain or metal crown.

Will There Be Pain After a Root Canal?

woman experiencing a toothache
The pain after a root canal should be minimal at best.

You may be understandably concerned about the pain after your root canal. It’s a crucial question when you are thinking about how long does it take to recover from a root canal. According to dentists everywhere, you should feel no pain during the procedure, but you may experience slight stinging sensations after the anesthetic wears off. Eating and speaking may be difficult and cause slight painful sensations.

If you experience excruciating pain after your root canal, you should definitely call the dentist and schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

How Long Does It Take to Recover From a Root Canal?

closeup of a woman's smile
Proper root canal recovery helps restore your dental health and your smile.

If you are wondering how long does a root canal take to heal, you should be ready to go back to work of school in as little as three days.

However, full root canal recovery may take as long as two weeks. If you want to hasten this period, here are a few tips you can try that can reduce pain after your root canal.

  • Anti-inflammatory Medication

Pain is part of your root canal recovery, but you shouldn’t feel excruciating pain. It should be easy to manage with anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen. You are encouraged to refrain from activities that can encourage bleeding.

  • Gargling

Inflammation due to reinfection will definitely hinder your root canal’s healing process. Gargling with salt water can help reduce the bacterial population of your mouth. So at least once or twice a day to keep your breath fresh and your mouth clean.

  • Not Stressful Activity

Strenuous physical activity such as heavy lifting, running and similar things can cause the hollowed canals of your teeth to bleed due to increased blood pressure. This will stop your injured tooth from healing quickly. So do not undertake any type of physical activity that can increase your blood pressure to help it heal faster.

  • Quit Pain-Inducing Habits

Your teeth will be quite sensitive while its healing and exposure to air can cause slight stinging sensations. You should stop smoking while after your root canal to facilitate a painless recovery period. Drinking alcoholic beverages is also discouraged because it will sting. Sugary or acidic consumables are also likewise discouraged.

How long does a root canal take? Although the initial procedure can be as short as an hour, ensuring that your recover quickly is a weeks-long commitment. If you want to avoid having to go back to your dentist for another root canal, you need to make a lifelong commitment to protect your dental and oral health.

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