You are currently viewing How Long Does a Root Canal Take?

 Medically Reviewed by Dr. Charles Dennis, DMD, on August 1, 2022

So, how long does a root canal take?

We get it! Nobody wants to walk into a dental surgery appointment knowing they’ll be there for hours. Luckily? The answer probably isn’t as bad as you’re expecting.

You can expect your root canal to take longer than a typical cavity filling due to all of the steps that go into it. A simple root canal will naturally be quicker than a complex one. The time a complex root canal will take depends on the number of teeth and what type of teeth need treatment.


What is a root canal?

A root canal may be needed if your tooth is cracked from injury, has a deep cavity, or if a previous filling is causing issues. Performed by a dentist or endodontist, the pulp and nerve of your tooth are scraped to remove infection or inflammation and preserve the tooth as much as possible. A crown is then placed over the remaining tooth to prevent further damage, stop disease, and act as a foundation to maintain the tooth.


What happens during a root canal?

The dentist or endodontist and their team will first prep the patient with anesthesia, prepare for the dental procedure, carve out the pulp & nerve of the tooth, rinse, apply disinfectant, and finally seal the tooth with either a temporary or permanent crown. Due to the last step, your root canal may take one or two sessions, depending on if the crown can be made the day of. In severe cases, the tooth may be carved out and disinfected to get rid of any infection and then cleaned once more and finalized during the second visit.


Simple vs. Complex Root Canal

On average, a simple root canal can take 30 minutes to 1 hour to complete. This accounts for the majority of root canals. However, several factors determine how long the procedure will take. A complex root canal can take 1-3+ hours to complete depending on how many teeth, the position of the tooth in the mouth, and what type of teeth need the root canal.

Certain teeth have more roots than others. A single root is much quicker to carve out and treat than multiple.

Canines & incisors

  • The front 6 teeth in your mouth on the top and bottom fall into this category. They have a single root and often make for simple root canals that take around 30 to 60 minutes.


  • The first and second premolars are the following 4 teeth on both the top and bottom of your mouth. These teeth have 1 or 2 roots, meaning they may take over an hour to clean out.


  • Molars are usually the back 6 teeth on the top and bottom. These teeth can have up to four roots, which will take much longer to perform a root canal on. You can expect a root canal on a molar to take 90 minutes (1.5 hours) or more.


dentists preparing woman for root canal in scranton pa


The Crown

The crown, which will keep your tooth safe following a root canal, often is adhered to during the second appointment and may take 30 minutes to 1 hour. If done during the same day, you can expect this process to take slightly longer than the times listed above.


In Conclusion

Root canals are a relatively quick procedure that lasts between 30 minutes to upwards of a few hours depending on the number of teeth that need to be cleaned, the severity of the purpose for the root canal, and if the crown will be installed during the first or second visit. In general, you can expect a simple root canal to take 30 minutes to 1 hour with 1-2 appointments necessary.

If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may have an infected tooth. Once assessed, your dentist will determine if a root canal is necessary for you.

  • Tooth soreness, especially while chewing
  • Extreme tooth sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures
  • Pus oozing around the tooth or tooth abscess
  • Painful throbbing in your mouth or jaw
  • Darkening tooth color
  • Inflamed gums
  • Bad breath

If you live within Northeast PA, Scranton Area, and are concerned you may need a root canal or are looking to get one done, Dr. Charles Dennis is a certified dentist and endodontist who will be able to help you!

No longer need to stay in pain- we are here to help.

If you need to get a root canal done or think you might need one, contact Abington Center for Cosmetic and Family Dentistry’s online booking system or call the office today at (570) 587-4031 to set up an appointment.

Leave a Reply