When you think of the endodontic treatment known as a root canal, you might be a little unsure about what that entails. The term may intimidate some people, who might think the process is a long and intrusive surgical procedure.
However, that’s simply not the case.
Root canals are actually about as common as a traditional dental filling. The whole process — from diagnosis to healing — is typically quick and easy.
[Related: Your Guide to Endodontic CT Scans]
First off, we’ll briefly go over what a root canal is.
Dentists do root canal treatments to eliminate infection or inflammation that occurs within the pulp of the tooth. They perform a root canal to save the natural tooth and relieve any pain or discomfort that patients may feel.
A root canal involves three main steps:
A root canal is an endodontic treatment that dentists suggest when a patient has a tooth with infected pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels, connective tissue and nerves that help grow and maintain the tooth’s integrity.
If you’re experiencing any of the following signs or symptoms, talk to your dentist to see whether you need a root canal:
[Related: How To Deal With Minor and Major Tooth Pain]
As we mentioned earlier, modern root canal treatments are similar to a routine filling.
The dentist numbs your mouth with a local anesthetic and then removes all signs of decay and infection in the tooth. They then remove the nerve inside the tooth and irrigate the site.
To complete the procedure, your dentist fills the tooth and seals it with a protective temporary filling. Eventually, they replace the temporary filling with a permanent filling.
You might ask, “How long does a root canal take?”
Luckily, dentists can typically complete root canals in one or two appointments, depending on the size of the tooth and the severity of the infection.
If you wonder how long a root canal takes on a molar, the answer might be a bit longer than it would take on a normal tooth.
For any root canal, the first appointment deals with the pulp and nerve removal and ends with a temporary filling. This should take only about 30 to 60 minutes.
The second part of the treatment involves replacing the temporary filling with a permanent one. It could also include an X-ray to make sure the root canal has been successful. This appointment also usually takes only about an hour.
[Related: 5 Signs You May Need Endodontic Surgery]
Occasionally, a root canal also needs a crown, which requires a few extra steps. If a tooth that undergoes a root canal appears to be at risk for recontamination, your dentist may fit it for a crown.
Additionally, a crown can make sure your dentist doesn’t need to extract the tooth in the future by protecting the tooth’s structure. This is especially common with molars.
If the tooth that your dentist has treated with a root canal requires a crown, they should fit it within a few months of the root canal procedure.
So, how long does a root canal take with a crown? A crown procedure takes two appointments.
During the first appointment, the dentist measures your tooth and shaves it down to prepare it for the crown.
You then receive a temporary crown to leave the office with. After dental technicians construct a permanent crown in the fabrication lab (which usually takes a couple of weeks), you can return to have your dentist fit it to your tooth for good.
While a root canal procedure isn’t more painful than a regular dental filling, you may experience some soreness and sensitivity after the treatment. Most patients feel minor discomfort for only a few days.
Immediately after the procedure, your mouth will be numb for a few hours. Dentists recommend avoiding chewing or eating until the numbness is completely gone to be safe.
Patients can return to their daily life directly following each appointment.
[Related: Endodontic Surgery: Root Amputation vs. Apicoectomy]
Stay on top of your dental health by practicing good daily oral hygiene and getting regular exams and cleanings.
Contact Cascadia Dental Specialists today for more information on root canals or to schedule an appointment!
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