How Long Does a Root Canal Take?

Medically Reviewed By
Jonathan G. Campbell, DDS, FAGD
One of the top rated Dentist in Salt Lake City, UT

Proper oral hygiene habits, such as brushing and flossing regularly and visiting the dentist every 6 months, can keep your teeth healthy. However, in some cases, infection gets into the soft center, or pulp, of your teeth. This can be very painful and, if left untreated, can cause significant damage to the tooth, resulting in tooth loss.

Root canal therapy can help to salvage the natural tooth by removing the infection and filling the tooth with a biocompatible material to support it from the inside.

The average root canal procedure takes about 30 minutes to an hour. However, there are a few factors that can impact the timeline of this procedure, and, in some cases, the procedure may last up to an hour and a half, and may take more than one appointment.

Treatment Time for Root Canal Procedure based on the Type of Tooth

The primary reason this treatment takes significant time is because the dental pulp must be carved out and the canals must be rinsed and disinfected. In addition, setup, administration of anesthesia, and other prep procedures can take some time.

Canines and Incisors

Canines and incisors are located at the front of your mouth. They help you cut/tear food as you chew. These teeth only have one root, making them easier to treat. Still, the entire procedure can take up to an hour or more, not including the time to place a crown.

Premolar Teeth

Premolars are located just past your incisors but before your molars. These are slightly more complex than canines and incisors, so they take an hour to an hour and a half or more for the treatment, without considering crown placement.

Molar Teeth

Your molars are located in the back of your mouth. They usually have four cusps, which means they have up to four roots. This tooth takes the longest to treat- up to an hour and a half or more.

Crown Placement

If you are having a crown placed on the tooth, you may need to come back for a second appointment. In some cases, the crown can be fabricated in the office, which can add another hour to your treatment.

Factors that May Prolong the Duration of your Root Canal Treatment

There are several factors that can impact the timeline of root canal treatment. First of all, the location of the tooth. Front teeth are easier to access than teeth located in the back of the mouth.

Additionally, the severity of the infection can impact the timeline. If the infection is only impacting one tooth, the procedure is fairly simple. However, if multiple teeth are involved, you can expect it to take longer.

Prior to beginning the procedure, local anesthesia will be administered. This should prevent you from feeling any pain. However, if you still feel the pain, the dentist may administer more anesthesia or may discuss sedation options with you to help you get through the procedure.

Frequently Asked Questions about Root Canal Treatment

Why get root canal treatment for infected teeth?

There are several reasons you should consider root canal treatment for an infected tooth:

  • Prevents the infection from spreading, causing additional oral and overall health complications
  • Protects the structure of the natural tooth, which also protects the natural structure of your jawbone
  • Eliminates pain caused by the infection

The other worry: are root canal treatments painful?

Many years ago, root canal treatment was a painful procedure that took some time to recover from. However, thanks to the many advancements in anesthesia options and the technology used for the procedure, root canal therapy is no more painful than any other procedure. In fact, most patients are back up and getting back to their normal routines the same day.

Tooth Extraction vs Root Canal Treatment for Infected Teeth

Tooth extraction involves the removal of the tooth from the jawbone. While it does effectively remove the infection, it leads to a variety of other issues including additional tooth loss, gum/jawbone infection, and more. You will want to consider tooth replacement options when you have a tooth removed, which can be expensive.

Root canal treatment involves the removal of the infected pulp, salvaging the natural structure of the tooth. This prevents any additional issues further down the road. The best option is always to save the tooth when possible.


Legacy Dental blog is proudly run by our Salt Lake City dentists team; We share knowledge about general dental care and practices. Apart from running this blog, we offer various dental services such as general dentistry, emergency dentistry, and dental implants for the community in Salt Lake City, Utah

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