How Long Does Root Canal Take? A Complete Guide!

A root canal is considered one of the fastest processes to cure tooth pain. It may sound and explain fastest but then the fact continues to be slightly different.

A root canal cures the pain and is referred to as endodontic treatment. It is a process where the dental specialist removes soft tissue from within a tooth that has become infected or inflamed.

The tissue called the dental pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissues. That feeds the tooth’s root and keeps it healthy.

There are bacteria inside the mouth that invade the pulp inside the tooth and cause inflammation. Thus, the tooth pulp comes under bacterial attack. Due to damage to the tooth pulp or when it starts to deteriorate the tooth is damaged.

This results in infection or extensive decay. It causes a very painful pus-filled pocket at the root of the tooth. The only way to overcome the pain, save the tooth, and stop further infection is a root canal procedure.

Who conducts the root canal procedure?

Root Canal Procedure

A dentist performs a root canal procedure. A dental professional who specializes in dental pulp conducts the process.

The endodontist is additionally trained in pain management, pain diagnosis, and other procedures that are vital for saving teeth.

What is the root canal procedure?

The root canal procedure is a standard process. Filling and root canals are mostly the same-day process. It is an in-house process conducted at the dentist’s office. 

What are the steps of the root canal procedure?

The steps of the root canal procedure are as follows:

  1. With the filling, the dentist will rub a numbing medication on the gum surrounding the affected tooth or teeth, and then local anesthesia is injected. 
  2. As the tooth and gum get numb, a hole is drilled in the top of the tooth to expose the infected pulp. The dentist or the endodontist will clean the pulp from inside the tooth and coat it with an antibiotic to stop infection. 
  3. The tooth is then sealed with a paste or synthetic material; it is then covered with a temporary filling and is covered with a sealant. 
  4. The second appointment is optional but then makes the filling permanent by adding a crown.  

Is a root canal painful?

A root canal is done after numbing the affected gums and under local anesthesia. Thus it is not as painful as the other routine procedures.

Some soreness, numbness, or mild discomfort could exist for 24 to 48 hours after the treatment. over-the-counter pain medicines easily manage this discomfort or pain.

The patients can easily resume their normal activities on the same day, but then it is recommended that people consume light and soft food. However, the pain from the infected tooth is much more vigorous as compared to the pain after the root canal procedure.

How long does the root canal procedure take?

Root canal procedure takes a little longer time as compared to other routine procedures. Apart from the anesthesia, set-up, and preparation, the complete nerve of the tooth needs to be carved out, rinsed, disinfected, and sealed.

A simple root canal procedure needs one appointment that lasts anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour. In severe cases, the procedure could last for ninety minutes. At times a second appointment is also required for permanent filling or crown for the teeth.

The time needed for the root canal will depend on several factors, including the number of canals that require cleaning and the type of tooth that requires treatment. Some may need treatment in one tooth but others could need treatment in three roots.

Depending on the type of tooth the root canal procedure will take time:

  1. Canines and incisors- canine and incisor teeth are placed in the front of the mouth that help to tear and bite the food. They have single roots; thus, it is easier and faster to fill and treat them.  
  2. Premolars- premolars are more towards the middle of the mouth. They have one or two roots; thus, cleaning them will take about an hour or so. 
  3. Molars- molars are large teeth placed at the back of the mouth and could have up to four canals. Thus the root canals performed on them could take ninety or more minutes.

What is the necessity of a root canal?

Unlike other body parts teeth are unable to heal themselves, especially if they are infected. If they are left untreated, infection and inflammation will spread to other teeth, tissues, and other parts of the mouth.

A root canal is the only solution to preserve the natural tooth, as neither cleaning nor fillings can completely remove all of the damaged pulp. The only feasible alternative to the root canal is the extraction of the entire tooth.

Extraction is more expensive and time-consuming and involves a process compared to a root canal. Additionally, there is a requirement to replace the removed tooth with an implant, crown, bridge, or partial dentures to maintain oral function and, to an extent, the facial structure.  

Can the root canal fail?

In a very rare condition, it will happen that the root canal will fail. As per estimates, five percent of root canals fail. If the first root canal has failed, it is possible to save the teeth with the help of endodontic treatment or an apicoectomy.

Here, the previous filling is removed, the canal is cleaned again, and the tooth is refilled and resealed. An apicoectomy removes the infected tissue by going through the tooth root and then sealing the root. In the second appointment, a completely new artificial tooth. 


Root canals scare people, but then it is not as scary as it may sound; if done at a reputed place with a diligent and experienced dentist, there will be no discomfort.

Root canals can be avoided to an extent with the help of maintaining regular dental hygiene. Starting from brushing the tooth twice daily, cleaning the tooth thoroughly after meals, and flossing between the teeth.

Importantly, visit the dentist twice a year for regular checkups so that if there is any problem, it can be rectified as soon as possible. 

Dr. Benjamin Martin is a highly experienced dental specialist. With more than 12 years of experience, he is a prominent expert in the diagnosis and treatment of dental problems. Dr. Martin is well-known for his gentle approach and exceptional patient care, and he helped innumerable patients in attaining healthy, beautiful smiles. He is also a prolific writer and educator, having published numerous articles in prominent dental journals. The writing style of Dr. Benjamin Martin is clear and approachable, and he is committed to assisting patients in making informed decisions about their dental health.

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