If you have an infected, decayed tooth, your dentist may recommend you have a root canal to try to save the tooth. While root canals are still major dental procedures, they don't have as long or as difficult of a recovery period as they did in the past.
Ask your dentist any questions you have about the procedure and your recovery before your root canal to prepare yourself prior to your appointment.
Your dentist will use a local anesthetic to numb your mouth prior to performing a root canal. You might feel some pressure while your dentist cleans the inside of your tooth, but you won't be in pain during the procedure.
The local anesthetic will start to wear off a few hours after your root canal. Once the anesthesia wears off, you might experience mild pain. Some root canal patients don't experience any pain after the procedure at all. If you do experience pain, an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, should make the pain manageable.
Root canals used to be extremely painful for many patients, but modern procedures have made the therapy much easier for patients. Any mild pain you experience after a root canal should subside within a few days.
Eating and Activity
Wait until the local anesthetic wears off after your root canal before you eat to minimize the risk of accidentally biting and injuring your cheeks or tongue. Avoid hard, crunchy, and extremely chewy foods for a few days. Opt for soft foods that won't irritate your tooth, such as soup, steamed vegetables, mashed potatoes, and smoothies.
While some people are able to return to work and their normal activities immediately after a root canal, it's best to rest for a day or two if you can. Keep your head elevated to reduce swelling and avoid strenuous exercise for at least two days, or for as long as your dentist recommends, to prevent bleeding after the procedure.
It's important to practice good oral hygiene all the time, but it's even more important to do so after a dental procedure, such as a root canal. You don't have to wait to brush your teeth after you get a root canal. Brush your teeth at least twice a day.
If you typically use a toothbrush with medium or hard bristles, switch to a brush with soft bristles to use after your root canal. Softer bristles still clean adequately, but they make it less likely you'll scrub too hard and damage the enamel or irritate the sensitive tooth before your dentist caps it with a crown.
Most root canal patients don't experience any complications, but it's important to contact your dentist promptly if you experience severe pain, pain that lasts longer than a few days, or pain that doesn't get better after taking over-the-counter medication.
Fever, swelling, redness, and tenderness can be signs of an infection, so it's important to seek prompt medical attention if you experience these symptoms.