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How Long Is a Dentist Appointment?

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A female dentist in blue scrubs and a woman sitting in a dentist's chair looking at a tablet and smiling.

The exact time for a dental appointment can vary based on your needs and oral health, but if you regularly see a dentist and have good dental health, a routine dental cleaning and exam can take approximately 60-90 minutes.

However, if you are getting more intensive work done, such as crowns or root canals, an appointment can take longer and may be between 2–3 hours, depending on the complexity of the issue. 

Speaking with your dental care team prior to your appointment and learning about what to expect are two great ways to get a clear understanding of how long your appointment may take.

Why Can the Length of a Dental Visit Differ?

A dental visit may take longer or shorter than expected for many reasons. 

The factors and procedures that can affect the length of your appointment include:

  • Your overall dental hygiene
  • Cleanings by a hygienist
  • X-rays
  • Exams from your dentist
  • Explaining treatments and arranging follow-ups
  • Questions you may have
  • Sedation or freezing
  • Emergency appointments
  • Other dental procedures

Your Dental Hygiene Can Affect How Long an Appointment Takes

If it has been years since you have had a dental cleaning, then you may be visiting your dentist for a longer appointment, so your dental team can complete a thorough cleaning and exam. 

Cleanings typically include a full cleaning and scaling of your teeth, and then a good polishing. Your dental team may also take any necessary X-rays and look for decay or other potential issues to bring to your dentist’s attention. Fluoride treatments may also be provided during your appointment. 

If your teeth need extra care, the cleaning may take longer, as there may be more plaque and tartar to remove. But, all in all, set aside at least 90 minutes for a full dental exam.

Do Dental X-rays Take Long?

As a part of a routine exam, your dental care team may take X-rays to complete a full assessment of your dental health. X-rays can provide your dentist with a clear picture of what is going on with your teeth and gums and show signs of problems that cannot be seen with a visual exam. 

The good news is that with modern technology, X-rays do not often take long, and your dentist can see the resulting X-rays within minutes. 

How Long Is the Exam Provided by a Dentist?

Once your dental hygienist has completed a preliminary exam with X-rays, your dentist can examine your teeth and the information collected by your hygienist to look for and diagnose a wide range of conditions. The length of time required for this exam can vary depending on your dental health.

Some of the conditions your dentist may look for include gum disease, gingivitis and periodontitis, cavities, TMJ, and other oral health conditions.

Following your exam, your dentist can provide advice for future care, answer any questions you may have, and arrange follow-up appointments for fillings, crowns, or other treatments they may recommend. 

Be sure to follow any advice or directions provided by your dentist. They are looking out for your best interest and overall health. 

A woman sitting in a dentist's chair while a female dentist examines her teeth.

How Long Do Dental Procedures Take? 

The length of your dental procedure can vary depending on whether you are getting something relatively simple, like a filling, or something more complex, like a root canal

A root canal can often take between 30—90 minutes or longer due to the need for sedation and the X-rays needed to ensure your dental team can eliminate the bacteria from the infected root and save the natural tooth.

Crowns can also take longer because your dentist needs to remove decay and restructure your tooth, and may need to build up the core of your tooth as well. This process can often take between 50–90 minutes.

The approximate time for other common dental procedures includes:

  • Teeth whitening (45 minutes)
  • Veneers (14-day process)
  • Extractions (20–40 minutes)
  • Fillings (20–60 minutes)
  • Dental implants (multiple visits spread over several months for implant placement surgery, follow-ups, implant crown appointments, and other related procedures)
  • Invisalign (will depend on each individual case, but expect longer than 4 weeks)  

For all these procedures, it’s important to remember your experience and the length of your appointment may vary based on your overall health, dental health, and other factors.

Will Dental Sedation Make My Appointment Longer? 

Depending on the dental procedure being completed and your personal health, you may benefit from dental sedation. It may take some time for sedatives to take effect and for the effects of sedation to wear off, and in some instances, you may be asked to wait and/or arrange a ride for your appointment, all of which may affect the length of your appointment.

How Long Do Emergency Dental Appointments Take?

As with many other factors, the time required to address dental emergencies can vary. 

Common dental emergencies can include:

  • Emergency fillings
  • Broken teeth
  • Root canals
  • Wisdom teeth removal
  • Swollen gums
  • Severe tooth sensitivity

During an emergency, we strive to provide care that helps preserve your overall health and dental health. If you experience any signs or symptoms of a dental emergency, don’t hesitate to contact us for support and care.

The Take-Away

The length of a dental appointment can vary based on what type of procedure you are having, but it’s often safe to set aside an hour for the appointment if it is an exam or cleaning. More time may be required for other procedures, so it’s important to speak with your dentist about what to expect.Contact Symmetry Dental today, and we’ll happily answer any questions concerning your appointment and the length of time it will take. We’re ready to help you show off your smile.

The duration of a dental appointment is a variable that hinges on a multitude of factors, contingent upon your specific oral health requirements and the procedures involved. For individuals with consistent dental care and good oral health, a standard dental cleaning and examination can typically encompass a time frame of approximately 60 to 90 minutes. Nevertheless, when more extensive dental work is in order, such as the installation of crowns or root canals, one can expect the appointment to be more protracted, sometimes spanning 2 to 3 hours, contingent upon the intricacies of the dental issues at hand. It is paramount to engage in a discussion with your dental care team prior to your appointment, as this interaction allows for a comprehensive understanding of the anticipated duration, ensuring that you can plan your schedule accordingly. Several variables contribute to the fluctuation in the duration of a dental visit. Firstly, the state of your overall dental hygiene plays a pivotal role. The better your oral health, the more streamlined your appointment is likely to be, as less intervention is required. Cleanings performed by a dental hygienist are a crucial component, and these can add to the overall length of the appointment, particularly when there is a need for deep cleaning or scaling. Additionally, the inclusion of X-rays in your appointment serves the purpose of aiding the dentist in diagnosing any underlying issues, yet this process can also extend the time spent in the dental chair. Subsequent to X-rays, your dentist will perform a comprehensive examination of your oral health, which involves checking for cavities, gum disease, and other potential concerns. Furthermore, the time allocated for discussions about treatments and scheduling follow-up appointments can add to the overall appointment duration, ensuring that you have a clear understanding of your dental health plan. These consultations provide an opportunity to address any concerns, discuss treatment options, and create a personalized plan to improve or maintain your dental health. This open dialogue is a fundamental aspect of modern dental care and contributes significantly to the patient’s overall experience. Moreover, it is important to consider that the questions you may have for your dentist, and their willingness to provide comprehensive answers, can influence the length of your visit. Dentists prioritize patient education and are often eager to address your inquiries and concerns. This educational aspect of the appointment is beneficial for patients as it enhances their understanding of their oral health and the recommended treatments. It ensures that you are actively engaged in your dental care and can make informed decisions about your treatment plan. Sedation or local anesthesia, often utilized for more intricate procedures, not only add to the time required for administration but also necessitate a period for monitoring before you can be released from the dental office. The use of sedation is essential in providing comfort and minimizing pain or anxiety during more complex procedures, such as extractions, oral surgeries, or root canals. It is a valuable tool that allows patients to undergo necessary treatments with minimal discomfort. However, the administration of sedation and the post-procedure monitoring contribute to the extended duration of the appointment. Dentists prioritize patient safety and well-being during and after sedation, and this requires additional time and attention. Additionally, emergency appointments are, by their nature, unpredictable and may require immediate and extended attention. When a dental emergency arises, such as severe tooth pain, a broken tooth, or an infection, it takes precedence over scheduled appointments. Dentists are committed to providing prompt care to alleviate pain and address urgent dental issues. These unforeseen emergencies can disrupt the normal schedule of the dental office and lead to delays for other patients. While emergency appointments may vary in length, they are a vital service provided by dental professionals to ensure that patients receive timely care when unexpected dental issues occur. Finally, the specific dental procedures themselves, whether it be routine cleanings, fillings, extractions, or more complex treatments like crowns or root canals, will significantly dictate the overall duration of the appointment. Routine dental cleanings and check-ups typically take around an hour, as they involve cleaning the teeth, checking for cavities, and discussing oral hygiene with the patient. More intricate procedures, such as root canals, crowns, or dental implants, demand a longer time commitment due to their complexity. Root canals, for example, involve removing infected pulp from the tooth, cleaning and disinfecting the root canal, and sealing it. This intricate procedure requires precision and can take several hours, often requiring multiple visits to complete. In conclusion, the length of a dental visit is inherently flexible, molded by an intricate interplay of factors ranging from your overall oral health, the necessity for specific procedures, and the intricacies of the dental work involved. It is essential to engage in open communication with your dental care team to gain a clear understanding of the anticipated duration and make the necessary arrangements to accommodate your dental health needs. Whether it’s a swift routine cleaning or a more extensive dental intervention, your dentist’s aim is to ensure your oral health and well-being, regardless of the time it takes to achieve it. Therefore, it is crucial to appreciate the variability in the length of dental appointments, as it reflects the commitment of dental professionals to delivering personalized and comprehensive care to meet the unique needs of each patient. Dental care is not one-size-fits-all, and the time invested in each appointment is a reflection of the dedication to your overall health and well-being.
Dr. Saleema Adatia, Calgary dentist

Written by Dr. Saleema Adatia

Dr. Saleema Adatia earned her Doctorate of Dental Medicine (DMD) from Tufts University in 2006. Since then, she’s been committed to serving her patients’ needs with the utmost passion. Dr. Adatia has owned and operated Symmetry Dental since 2013 and has integrated high-quality services with friendly care into the philosophy of the practice.

With a goal of providing the best patient care possible, Dr. Adatia ensures that her practice stays up to date with the latest dental technologies and techniques. Her personal passion for dentistry stems from a desire to create a positive impact on each patient’s quality of life. Whether that means treating people’s pain or restoring function and beauty to their smiles, the goal is always the same: to help make patient’s lives just a little bit better by working together in harmony.

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