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How Long Does a Root Canal Take?
A root canal may seem a tedious procedure to many people who have had it done. Some may have found it tiring owing to the inconvenience caused by multiple dental appointments for a single root canal. However, not all root canal treatments need to be lengthy and inconvenient. In the following sections we will be discussing the factors that decide the duration of each appointment as well as the number of appointments it takes to complete the procedure.
Two Visit Root Canal Treatment
The most common approach undertaken by Endodontists is a two-visit root canal. In the first visit, the patient is anesthetized, the root canals are exposed, cleaned and shaped by use of special needle-like equipment. Thereafter, medication is placed in the canals based on the symptoms of the patient and the extent of bacterial infection. The medication can either be anti- bacterial in nature or may help dissolve the nerve tissue inside the root canals.
In the second appointment, which may be anywhere between 1-3 weeks from the first, the canals are filled with an inert material and sealed so as to prevent bacterial contamination of the sterile canals. Thereafter, the tooth is restored with a composite restoration that has the ability to bind to the tooth and provide it with additional strength. Capping of the tooth is performed later as per the convenience of the patient which is mandatory in any root canal treated tooth.
Single Visit Root Canal Treatment
Sometimes the whole procedure of root canal can be performed in a single visit which has all the same steps as a two visit. If the Endodontist sees it fit to clean, shape, fill and seal the tooth in a single visit, it may take a bit longer to complete the procedure but it can be done in one appointment.
Multiple Visit Root Canal Treatment
In rare cases, where the tooth is quite tender and the patient presents with a swelling around the tooth, the abscess that has formed due to the excess bacterial infection may warrant multiple visits to clean the canal and eliminate the infection. The steps are the same as in two visit root canal with the only difference that the root canal has to be cleaned for a prolonged period of time to drain the abscess completely. Your Endodontist may place anti-bacterial medication in the tooth at each visit.
How Does the Endodontist Decide the Approach?
Primarily, the most important factors that decide the time taken for a root canal are tenderness and swelling. If both of these are present, the Endodontist will choose to have multiple visits. However, if the nerve tissue of the tooth has been exposed due to some dental procedure or if the bacterial infection is limited to a small area of the tissue, the single visit or two-visit approach can be safely undertaken by the dentist.