All You Need to Know About the Root Canal Recovery Time

Jump to Section

The International Journal of Dental Clinics is reader supported. We may earn a commission if you purchase something using one of our links.

What is the expected root canal recovery time?

A root canal is a major dental procedure done to avoid further pain that comes from a fractured or decaying tooth. It is a deep cleaning process inside the canal or the inner chamber of the root of your tooth. This procedure can irritate the nerves and gums surrounding your tooth so pain is usually inevitable at this point.

Before, root canals were known to be extremely painful. This is one of the reasons people are so scared of the procedure. But today, dentists have found ways to lessen the pain you can experience while doing the root canal treatment.

A local anesthetic can now be used to minimize the pain and although you might still feel some pressure during the procedure, it would not hurt as much. So, the actual procedure is not painful – it is when the local anesthetic wears off that you get to experience some mild pain and sensitivity.

But how long do you have to go through pain? How much pain should you really be feeling? And how would you know if the pain is not normal anymore?

In this article, we will discuss root canal recovery and other things that you should know about the root canal treatment.

How does a root canal work?

To understand why you have to go through pain, you need to understand the actual procedure. So let us start off about knowing how root canal treatment works.

The root canal treatment is a cleaning process involves the dentist making a small opening in the crown of your tooth. Then, the diseased pulp inside the tooth’s pulp chamber is cleaned out.

After cleaning, the area will be filled with a biocompatible substance or a temporary filling to replace the pulp of the infected tooth. Then, the dentist closes the hole.

The whole thing can be uncomfortable but as long as you have the local anesthetic, you will not feel any pain while going through the root canal therapy.

Once your tooth is completely treated and healed, the dentist will then insert a permanent filling in the root canal. Then, the dental team will put a crown on top of it to cover the affected tooth. The crown can be made from porcelain, metal, or gold. The dental crown is necessary to reinforce the structure of the tooth.

Root canal recovery time

The root canal treatment is generally painless. The only time you will feel pain and sensitivity is when the anesthesia wears off. But the good news is that the pain does not last long.

As for the root canal recovery time, most patients usually feel soreness, sensitivity, irritation, or pain for the first 24 to 48 hours after the procedure. Everything should be back to normal after that.

As you can see, it is normal to go through mild to moderate pain and sensitivity for a few days after root canal therapy. There is no reason to panic about it since these are normal root canal complications.

Pain management

Pain killers

Since the pain related to a root canal treatment is usually mild, you can counteract it with pain relief medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

But if you are taking any supplements or prescription medicine, it is still best that you consult your doctor first to make sure that the pain killers won’t interact with your medication.

Cold compress

Another way you can alleviate the root canal treatment pain is to apply a cold compress. This will not only help with the pain but will also help speed up the recovery process.

Watch what you eat

You should also watch what you eat after your root canal therapy. Avoid chewing on hard and crunchy foods as this can cause more pain. Even with soft food, make sure you try your best to avoid using the treated tooth while eating.

Practice good oral hygiene

Of course, you are advised to continue practicing good oral hygiene. Continue brushing and flossing. Maintaining good oral health will prevent bacteria to cause other dental issues that could add to the pain you are already feeling.

When to seek help

The pain caused by the root canal process should decrease over time. If the pain persists after three to four days and you still have swelling around the infected tooth, you should see your dentist right away.

If there is nothing unusual in your case, your dentist can recommend prescription-strength medicine for you to get through the pain.

But sometimes, recurring pain means you need additional cleaning of the canal. Most people have to go through one to two sessions for a root canal procedure to be successful. For severe cases, you may even need more.

Why are root canals necessary?

Tooth decay can eat away and weaken the enamel or the protective layer of your tooth. This reduces the protection of the tooth nerves.

If left untreated, advanced tooth decay will affect the nerves, connective tissue, and blood vessels of the teeth. This will cause an infection.

Once the infection reaches the pulp and the root of your tooth, root canal procedures would be required to eliminate the infection and prevent it from causing further pain and damage.

If you leave this treated there could be bone loss around the root, a hole could form on the side which would allow drainage from the root into the gums or cheek, swelling in the head, face, or neck, and infection that can spread to the surrounding tissues, gums, or bones.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How much does a root canal cost?

There is no general price for the procedure. This is because the total cost will depend on how much damage is already there and how complex the procedure will be. The only way to know how much your total bill could be is to get a root canal appointment from a dentist or orthodontist.

How long does a root canal procedure take?

The whole procedure can be done in 30 to 90 minutes. But again, this will also depend on the severity of the issue.

Some dentists would suggest doing the procedure in several visits so that the tooth can dry up and be disinfected a second time before filling it up.

How safe is a root canal procedure?

Root canal treatments are safe and effective. It is a pretty common procedure that has been performed for centuries. And thanks to advancements in technology, treatment is faster, painless, and more successful.

What is an alternative to root canals?

If you do not want to do a root canal, the alternative will be tooth extraction. Here, the dentist will take out the damaged tooth and then replace it with a partial denture, bridge, or implant. This is a more expensive option and will usually require several visits to the dentist to complete.

Most of the time, a root canal specialist would advise you to do the endodontic treatment instead of extraction so that you can still keep your natural teeth. A root canal takes out a lot of throbbing pain and the need for other treatments in the future.

Can I return to my daily routine after the procedure?

Usually, the local anesthesia will cause your mouth to feel numb for 2 to 4 hours after the procedure. Plus there will be a pain once the anesthesia wears off. So it is probably best if you take the rest of the day off.

Although there are some who can manage to soldier through and go back to work or school on the same day with the help of painkillers.


Out of all the dental procedures, a root canal treatment is probably one of the most feared one. But as mentioned earlier, you no longer have to feel anxious about a root canal treatment. Advancements in technology has made the process an easier and painless one.

A root canal is necessary to prevent further damage to happen from an already troubled tooth. Pain is a natural side effect of the root canal procedure but the pain and sensitivity are mild and will just be around for a few days. A smooth and speedy recovery is guaranteed in most cases.

If you need a root canal, do not hesitate to get an appointment with your general dentist.

Dr Febin Mary George - Editor

With more than 10 years as a dental surgeon, Dr Febin Mary George is passionate about educating consumers around the world to help look after their teeth.

She completed her Bachelor of Surgery at the Century Institute of Dental Science and Research Centre in 2010.

Alongside editing the International Journal of Dental Clinics she has also written for major publications including Thrive Global.