How Long Does Root Canal Last For? Insights from Dental Experts

Root canals are a common dental procedure aimed at saving a tooth that is severely decayed or infected. While they have a reputation for being intimidating, modern dentistry has made significant advancements, making root canals relatively comfortable and highly effective. However, one lingering question among patients is, “How long does root canal last for?”

At Legacy Dental Care, we understand the importance of addressing this concern. That’s why we’ve gathered insights from our team of dental experts to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the longevity of root canals and factors that influence their lifespan.

Do I Need a Root Canal Treatment?

If you suspect that a root canal might be necessary, the first step is to schedule a visit with a dental specialist. They can evaluate your situation and recommend the most suitable course of action tailored to your needs. However, there are several signs and symptoms you can watch for that may indicate the need for a root canal:


  • Pain: Persistent or severe pain, especially when eating, is often the initial indicator that a root canal may be needed. This pain typically surpasses the discomfort associated with a regular cavity.
  • Sensitivity: Tooth sensitivity, particularly to hot or cold temperatures, can precede the onset of pain. If you notice heightened sensitivity in a tooth, it could signal underlying issues that may require a root canal.
  • Swollen Gums: Swelling around a tooth is a common sign of infection, which often necessitates root canal treatment. If touching the swollen gums causes pain, it further indicates the likelihood of needing a root canal.
  • Discoloration: Darkening of the tooth, either on its surface or near the gum line, is frequently indicative of root problems. The presence of a black or gray spot resembling extensive decay may also suggest the need for a root canal.

Being vigilant for these signs and promptly consulting with a dental professional can help address potential root canal issues before they worsen. Early intervention can alleviate discomfort and prevent complications, ultimately preserving the health of your teeth and gums.

Factors Influencing the Lifespan of Root Canal

Several factors influence how long a root canal lasts:

  • Tooth Location: The location of the affected tooth plays a significant role. Teeth towards the back of the mouth, like molars, endure more pressure from chewing, which can impact the longevity of the root canal.
  • Quality of Treatment: The skill and experience of your dentist are crucial. A well-performed root canal, with thorough cleaning and proper sealing, enhances its longevity.
  • Oral Hygiene: Maintaining good oral hygiene habits, such as brushing, flossing, and regular dental check-ups, significantly impacts the lifespan of a root canal. Proper oral care prevents reinfection and ensures the longevity of the treated tooth.
  • Presence of Infection: If the tooth had a severe infection prior to the root canal, the chances of complications may be higher, potentially affecting its longevity.
  • Strength of Tooth Structure: The strength and integrity of the tooth’s structure post-root canal also influence its lifespan. In some cases, a dental crown may be recommended to provide additional support and protection.

How Long Does Root Canal Last For?

Root canals boast an impressive success rate, a fact abundantly evident in our practice and supported by extensive scientific research. A noteworthy study, scrutinizing 487,476 root canal treatments, sheds light on the long-term efficacy of this procedure. According to this comprehensive report, an astounding 98 percent of root canals endure for one year, while 92 percent persevere for five years, and 86 percent persist for a decade or more.

Particularly noteworthy is the survival rate of molars treated by endodontists, which surpasses that of those treated by general dentists, especially over a ten-year span. These statistics offer valuable insights for patients, providing a glimpse into the durability of root canals and underscoring their merit as a treatment option. However, it’s crucial to recognize the individual factors that can influence the longevity of the procedure in your specific case.

How to Increase the Lifespan of Root Canal?

  • Prioritize Oral Hygiene: Brush your teeth twice daily, floss at least once a day, and use mouthwash regularly. This routine is crucial for preventing new infections and maintaining the health of your treated tooth.
  • Stay on Schedule with Dental Checkups: Regular dental checkups are vital for keeping an eye on the condition of your treated tooth. Your dentist can spot any potential issues early on and take proactive measures to address them.
  • Consider Getting a Dental Crown: Protect your tooth from further damage by getting a dental crown. Crowns provide reinforcement for weakened tooth structure, particularly for molars that endure significant chewing pressure.
  • Be Mindful of Chewy Foods: Avoid using the treated tooth for chewing hard or sticky foods. This reduces the risk of cracks or fractures, preserving the integrity of your root canal treatment.
  • Invest in a Nightguard for Teeth Grinding: If you grind your teeth at night, wearing a nightguard can shield your teeth from the harmful effects of bruxism. This protective measure helps safeguard the longevity of your root canal and overall dental health.

When Might You Need a Root Canal Retreatment?

While root canals are successful most of the time, there are situations where retreatment might be necessary. Here are some signs to watch out for:

  • Pain or Swelling Around the Treated Tooth
  • Sensitivity to Hot or Cold
  • Visible Craze Lines or Cracks in the Tooth
  • Looseness of the Treated Tooth

If you experience any of these symptoms, consult your dentist immediately. Early diagnosis and intervention can save the tooth and prevent further complications.


Root canals are a valuable dental procedure, offering a high chance of saving a tooth. By understanding the factors affecting longevity and practicing good oral hygiene, you can significantly increase the lifespan of your root canal. If you have any questions or concerns about root canals or your dental health, don’t hesitate to contact Legacy Dental Care. Our experienced dentists are here to provide personalized advice and ensure your smile stays healthy for years to come.

Schedule an appointment with Legacy Dental Care today!


Should a dentist pay for a failed root canal?

If you’ve undergone a root canal treatment that failed due to your dentist’s negligence, you may have grounds to seek compensation. This could cover the pain and suffering you endured, as well as the expenses incurred for any additional corrective procedures needed.

Before undergoing retreatment, it’s important to note that dental insurance coverage may extend to cover a portion or even the entirety of the expenses involved. However, it’s crucial to review your policy carefully, as some plans may restrict coverage to only one procedure per tooth within a specified timeframe. To ascertain your potential out-of-pocket expenses, it’s advisable to consult with your employer or insurance provider prior to proceeding with treatment.

Putting off root canal treatment allows the oral infection to worsen, potentially leading to a severe condition known as septicemia. This occurs when the infection originating from your tooth spreads throughout your body, posing a significant risk to your health that must be avoided at all costs.

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