4 Tips for Recovering From a Root Canal

When the root of your tooth has nerve damage due to decay or infection, it may be necessary to have a root canal procedure to avoid losing your tooth. The treatment is sometimes referred to as root canal therapy and may be completed in one or multiple visits to a dentist or endodontist. During a root canal, you will be administered a local anesthetic to numb the area around your tooth. The dentist will create a hole in the root canal and extract the dead tissue. Once the canal is cleaned, it will be filled and sealed, although you may need to return for follow-up therapies. After the treatment is completed, a final appointment will be necessary for placement of the crown to complete the tooth’s restoration.

Although many people feel ambivalent about having a root canal, it’s a very common endodontic treatment. In fact, the American Association of Endodontists states that 22.3 million root canals take place every year. Even though root canals seem scary, the recovery process only lasts a few days and is usually quite manageable. In reality, the procedure is far more helpful than harmful. If you’re anxious about undergoing a root canal, there’s no need to worry. Follow these four tips to ensure a smooth and speedy recovery.

Take Your Prescribed Medication

In general, if you require a root canal, there is probably already some degree of pain in your tooth. It’s also common for there to be tenderness or discomfort during the recovery process. Many times, the tooth is already infected which means antibiotics will be prescribed to fight the infection. Therefore, during the recovery process, it’s very important to take all the medication prescribed by your dentist as directed.

Be Cautious About What and How You Eat

Because the area surrounding the root canal will be tender after the treatment, the majority of discomfort following the procedure can be minimized by adhering to the recommended post-operative diet. This means refraining from eating crunchy, chewy, sticky, or hard food and making sure not to bite down on the weakened tooth until you have completed all the root canal therapies. It is possible that your tooth could be hypersensitive to cold or hot food, so eating food at temperature is preferable as long as your tooth is tender.

Keep Your Mouth Clean

To fight bacteria and avoid infection, it’s essential to practice appropriate oral hygiene after a root canal procedure. The tooth is more prone to infection after the procedure if the area around the gum and tooth is not kept clean. Although this should already be an established oral hygiene practice, brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste and daily flossing is important during your root canal recovery.

Stay in Contact With Your Endodontist

During the recovery process, if you experience any abnormal symptoms such as a noticeable swelling on the outside or inside of your mouth, you should contact your endodontist immediately. In addition, severe pain, nausea, rash, a missing crown or if your bite feels uneven are all symptoms that require a phone call to your dentist. Occasionally, patients have allergic reactions to medication, so if you notice a rash, make sure to contact your physician.

If you have any concerns or questions during your recovery, don’t hesitate to contact your endodontist. Your doctor’s role is to address both major and minor issues. In most cases, recovering from a root canal is a manageable experience, however, it’s not a one size fits all process, and there are times when a unique issue arises.

Root canals have a bad reputation and are typically associated with pain. Yet much of the discomfort is felt before the actual treatment rather than during or after the root canal therapy. Remember that your endodontist is your best resource so following your doctor’s instructions plus proper care will help to ensure a successful recovery.

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