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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.

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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