I’ve had…five root canals, and all five teeth now have crowns.
The first one, I’d developed an abscessed tooth, and had been in so much pain before the antibiotics that I think they could have drilled without any novacaine and it would have been minor compared to the abscess pain. 2 visits to the dentist were necessary, the first probably an hour, the second maybe 30 minutes.
The second one, I had a tooth essentially fall apart, so it was a little different than any of the others. He numbed it, ground/drilled (whatever) the tooth down, did the root canal, then it was crowned. Time frame was about the same as the first one, across either 2 or 3 visits.
The third was the worst: I wasn’t numb when he began drilling. Result? I started crying - I didn’t expect it to hurt from my previous experiences, so I was shocked into it. That meant that I had to manage to calm myself down before they could work anymore. The first visit for this one (the root canal itself) probably had me in the dentists office for around 3 hours. The second visit was very short.
The fourth and fifth were done at the same time - I avoided going back to the dentist after that last root canal until I had to. I went to another dentist in the same group, and had no problems at all. I think there was a note in my chart about the last visit - this dentist made sure there was no doubt that I was numb, and kept offering to put me under if I wanted that, so that I definitely wouldn’t feel anything (I live alone & would have had no one to drive me home, so I couldn’t go that way). Even though this was 2 teeth, the time wasn’t that much more than RC #1 and #2.
The RC itself shouldn’t hurt during the procedure. You may be sore afterwards - ask your dentist what you can take for any soreness (my last one, they wanted me to take either tylenol or advil, but definitely not the other - and I don’t remember which one they wanted me to take).
Whether you can drive afterward depends on what kind of painkillers they use. If they put you to sleep, don’t plan on being able to drive. If they just use novacaine, then you should be fine to drive - but call your dentist ahead of time and ask.
Alcohol - I don’t know about their stand on that. I’d abstain at least the day before, but then I’m not a big drinker anyway. Call your dentist and ask.
Root canals aren’t the terrible things that people make them out to be. No, it’s not my favorite way to spend a morning or an afternoon (despite what my history of rc’s might indicate), but unless you just aren’t numb (and tell the dentist if you’re not!) it shouldn’t be that bad - and with the infection, may feel a lot better after it’s done.
If you’re having a crown put on, pay attention when they are seating the permanent crown in your mouth. A little bit off can cause significant pain (this happended with #4&5 for me), but generally it takes almost no time for them to correct. I went in, they took a little height off the top of the crown, and I was out of there and feeling a lot better.