Mish Sachdev

How long is root canal treatment


In this blog, we will be outlining all you need to know about how long a root canal takes, including the steps of the procedure, usual times for different teeth, and the potential for multiple visits.

A root canal procedure involves several steps:

  1. A local an aesthetic is first applied to numb the area.
  2. The decay, if any, is then removed.
  3. The inside of the tooth will then be rinsed several times by disinfectant. Medication may be placed within the tooth to eradicate any remaining bacteria if an infection was present.
  4. X-rays will then be taken of the root to ensure it is completely clean.
  5. The tooth will then be restored with either a crown or a normal filling.

The usual time for a basic root canal procedure is between 30 minutes to an hour, assuming the tooth has one canal. However, the appointment itself may take up to 90 minutes due to the many steps required. Additionally, teeth may have multiple root canals which can require more time, and there needs to be time allocated for local anaesthesia, general set-up, and treatment preparation.

The time is also affected by the type of tooth that is undergoing the procedure:

Molar Root Canal procedure: The molars are the four-cusped teeth that are located at the back of the mouth. They can possess up to four canals, and thus are the most time-consuming teeth to undergo a root canal procedure. While a typical root can take an hour to remove, disinfect, and fill, a molar root canal can take 90 minutes or more.

Premolar Root Canal procedure: The premolars are located behind anterior teeth but before the molars, and they possess either one or two roots. A root canal procedure for a premolar should take an hour, although based on your tooth anatomy it may take longer

Canine and Incisor Root Canal procedure: The canines and incisors are the teeth in the front of the mouth and help to tear and cut food during chewing. They usually possess one root and are subsequently faster to fill and treat in a root canal procedure. Subsequently this procedure takes between 45 minutes to an hour to complete.

In more complex cases a root canal treatment can require two or more visits to fully complete. In this scenario the first visit will be centred on the removal of any infected or damaged tissue in your tooth. This process can be highly time consuming in complex cases and requires immense concentration and care. Temporary antibacterial medication should then be placed in the tooth and following this there should no longer be significant tooth pain.

At the second appointment there will be a more thorough cleaning and disinfecting, as well as the permanently sealing of the inside of your tooth. Then a permanent or temporary filling will then be placed, and potentially a crown. If the crown is being placed in this appointment, then an additional hour will be required to place this, although this does not occur often. This is because it requires the dentist to make the crown on the same day in their office. In most cases the dentist recommends waiting a short period of time after the root canal to allow for sufficient healing. Following this and assuming there are no further complications, then a permanent crown is placed at a future third appointment.

Here at Gentle Dental Care, we specialise in delivering gentle, pain-free root canal treatment to our patients.  020 3925 3846.