How Long Does a Root Canal Take and How to Prepare?

How Long Does a Root Canal Take?

If you are here, you want to know how long does a root canal take and if it is painful. The root canal is a process that will eliminate the damage in the tooth’s root and preserve the natural tooth around it.

It is essential when the inflammation and infection develop in the pulp (soft tissue) inside, spreading to your teeth.

Moreover, dentists remove the damaged tissues with caution during the process. Further, they seal the tooth so that bacteria cannot enter it. Also, the root canal is very common, and in the United States, almost 15 million cases of a root canal are done every year.

Read below to know more about the procedure, symptoms, how long a root canal takes, and how root canals hurt.

Who needs to do a root canal?

All the tooth has pulp that is the living tissue that is inside the root. It connects to the gums and bones. The pulp consists of connective tissues, nerves, and blood vessels. Here are few common things that might have hampered your roots and pulp:

  • Due to cavities, you have infected teeth
  • If the teeth are chipped or cracked
  • A tooth that has undergone several dental treatments

The root canal is a dental process that is performed so that the dentist can save the natural tooth and clean the diseased and damaged tissues.

If a root canal is not done, then this infection will spread to other teeth and gums. Also, the teeth will turn black or yellow.

How Long Does a Root Canal Take?

Symptoms you need a root canal

The best way to know about a root canal is to visit the dentist. However, there are few warning signs. Hence, if you see any of these signs, it is best to visit the dentist. The sooner it is treated, the better it will be for your teeth.

#1 Sensitivity to cold and heat

Whenever you eat any warm food, do your teeth hurt, or drink tea, it feels uncomfortable. Check if it feels sensitive whenever you drink cold water or eat ice cream. This feeling can be either a sharp pain or a dull ache.

If this is the case, you need to do a root canal, especially if the pain lingers for a long time after eating.

When your tooth hurts whenever you eat something cold or hot, it might indicate that the nerves and blood vessels in the tooth are damaged and infected.

#2 Discoloration of the tooth

Tooth discoloration can happen when there is an infection in your pulp. Also, trauma to your tooth or breakdown of any internal tissue might damage roots. This might cause the tooth to look greyish or black.

According to dentists’ tooth discoloration is easier to see when it happens to the front tooth. Hence it can be treated immediately.

However, there is another cause for tooth discoloration, but it is a good idea to see the dentist when you see any of the teeth have discoloration.

#3 Persistent pain and discomfort

This is one of the major signs that one might need to do a root canal. Moreover, the pain can bother you all the time, or sometimes the pain might go away for some time but will eventually return.

Furthermore, you can feel this pain in your bone tooth. Sometimes the pain might spread to your other teeth, face or jaw. However, there might be other reasons for tooth pain that do not involve a root canal. Other possibilities might be:

  • A cavity
  • The impacted tooth which might be infected
  • Pain from the sinus infection
  • Gum disease
  • Damaged filing

Besides whatever the cause, it is best to visit the dentist if there is any tooth pain, specifically if it persists. Early treatment will lead to a better outcome.

#4 Cracked or chipped tooth

If you have cracked or chipped your tooth by biting on something solid or during an activity, it is easier for bacteria to set inside that tooth, leading to infection or inflammation.

Moreover, if you hurt your tooth and there is no crack or chip, it can still damage the nerves and ligaments of your tooth. Due to this, the nerve will be inflamed, which will cause sensitivity and pain. In this situation, you need to do a root canal.

#5 Swollen gums

If a tooth is aching, there is a chance the gums are swollen as well. The swelling might not be there all the time. Also, it might not be painful when you touch it, or you might feel a sharp pain even with a slight touch.

Furthermore, most of the time, swelling happens when there are acidic products of dead tissues. This sometimes leads to edema (swelling) outside your root.

Moreover, you might get small pimples on the gums. These are called an abscess, parulis, or gum boil. Also, the pimple might discharge fluid from the infections inside your teeth.

It is an uncomfortable feeling, and it makes the breath smell bad.

How Long Does a Root Canal Take?

#6 Tooth mobility

If the tooth is damaged, then it might feel loose. However, there might be other reasons for this besides nerve death (pulpal necrosis), but root canal treatment is needed if a tooth is loose.

The acidic waste material from pulpal necrosis makes bone soft around a decaying tooth which causes mobility. If it is not treated immediately, then it will spread, and more teeth will feel loose.

#7 Pain whenever you touch your tooth or eat

When you eat or touch your tooth, there is severe pain then it can mean either there is nerve damage or tooth decay. In this case, you need to do a root canal. Moreover, if the pain does not go away even after eating, it means it is tooth decay.

Furthermore, the muscle might be hypersensitive around the gum and root as the pulp is also decaying. Due to pulp dying oozes fluid, which might irritate that area and cause pain whenever you eat, touch, or put any pressure.

Will root canal hurt?

With advanced technology, the root canal process is a lot different than deep filling. The dentist will also use local anesthesia to numb the area around the gum and tooth; hence, you will not feel any pain.

Furthermore, if you have a fever or facial swelling, the dentist might give you medicines to reduce the infection. Also, this will help to lessen the pain.

Moreover, it is like filling the teeth, but it will take more time than a normal filling. Your mouth will feel numb when the dentist cleans the roots, disinfect the gums and fill them.

The dentist will use a rubber dam before starting the process. This prevents the bacteria from spreading to other areas of the mouth.

How long does a root canal hurt?

After the treatment, you can still feel some pain for 2 – 3 days. It should be not persisted, and if you maintain oral hygiene, then it will go away. Also, the dentist might recommend you to take pain killers such as ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol).

However, if the pain lasts more than 3 days, you should visit your dentist for a check-up.

How long does a root canal take?

If you wonder how long a root canal takes, it is between 90 minutes – 3 hours. Most of the time, it just takes one appointment; however, you might need two.

Both dentists or endodontists can do a root canal. However, an endodontist has more knowledge and training when it is about root canal procedures.

Furthermore, how long a root canal takes depends on factors such as which specific tooth is infected and how severe the infection is.

Also, before starting the process, the tooth needs to be disinfected, rinsed, and the nerve needs to be carved out. Moreover, some teeth might have many pulp canals, whereas other might have one.

Besides, preparation, anesthesia, and set-up take a lot of time as well. Below we have discussed how long does a root canal takes for each type of teeth.


The four-cusped teeth which are present at the back of the mouth are known as molars. They can have 4 canals which means it is one of the most time-consuming root canals.

Moreover, it takes an hour to disinfect and remove everything from these teeth. Then it will take another 90 minutes to do the root canal. So, the whole process will take a minimum of 2 and a half hours.


They are present before the molars and behind the anterior teeth. Premolars have either 1 – 2 roots. The whole process will take a little more than an hour normally. Sometimes it might take a long depending on the tooth anatomy.

Incisors and Canine

The front teeth are known as canine and incisors teeth. Also, these teeth are used the most as you cut and tear the food from these teeth.

This takes the least amount of time, and if you are wondering how long a root canal takes, the treatment will be done within an hour. However, if you need to get a crown, then it will take more time.

Also, if the dentist puts the crown on the same day as the root canal, it will take another hour. But generally, it does not happen on the same day.

Why sometimes do root canals need two visits?

The dentist uses local anesthesia so that you do not feel any pain. They will remove all the waste material and clean the tooth. After this, the tooth filling requires gutta-percha, a gel-like substance that protects the tooth from further infection.

Then the tooth is sealed with a temporary filling. It is then your dentist will ask you to return for another appointment.

Furthermore, during the second visit dentist will remove the temporary filling with the permanent filling. Sometimes a pin is also placed before permanent filling so that the tooth doesn’t feel loose.

The dentist will do an x-ray to ensure that the root canal treatment is complete.

When does someone need a crown?

Sometimes to protect the gums and roots, you need a crown. The dentist will clean the area and will prepare a crown to fit in your mouth. First, the dentist will put a temporary crown; then, they will put a permanent crown when you visit again.

Crown after root canal how long

After the root canal treatment, you need to wait for 10 – 15 days to place the crown inside your mouth. At this time, you need to eat foods that are easy to chew and should not have anything too hot or too cold.

How to prevent it?

If you want to prevent root canals, then you need to follow some oral hygiene routine daily. This will help to prevent cavities and different problems related to teeth. Hence follow these steps to the teeth healthy:

  • Brush the teeth 2 times a day.
  • Once every year, visit the dentist to clean your teeth
  • Use toothpaste that has fluoride. Please use a fluoride mouth wash as well.
  • Visit the dentist every six months
  • Floss between the teeth once a day
  • Try not to eat foods which has a lot of refined carbohydrates and sugar in them. These type of foods gets stick on the teeth. Also, whenever you eat these foods, brush your teeth or rinse shortly after.

Final thoughts

We have covered everything related to a root canal, from how long a root canal takes, prevention, and symptoms. A root canal is a serious procedure, and a lot of people think it is severely painful. However, it is just like a normal cavity filling treatment.

Also, how long it takes depends on the affected tooth and how difficult to cure. Generally, it takes from an hour to three.

Moreover, if you have any persistent pain in your tooth, you should immediately talk to your dentist.

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