Many patients who need a root canal treatment assume that the recovery will be similar to that of having a tooth extracted, requiring time off of work to rest, facial swelling, and general discomfort. The truth is that recovery from a root canal is much more like recovery from a dental filling or crown—in other words, there’s really not that much to recover from! Here’s what you can exact after a root canal treatment.
Immediately After Your Root Canal
Once your root canal procedure is complete, your tooth and the area surrounding it will continue to be numb for a few hours. During this time, you should avoid eating foods that need to be chewed or drinking hot beverages; since you don’t have feeling in the affected area, it leaves you susceptible to injury. You can drink cold and warm beverages before the numbness has subsided, but wait at least 30 to 40 minutes after your root canal to ensure that the temporary filling has hardened.
You will be able to drive yourself home from our office after your root canal and, if you’d like, you can return to work. Since you’ll still be numb for a few hours, you may want to take the rest of the day off if you have a job where you deal with the public or do a lot of speaking, but there’s no other reason for you to take time off of work. There’s no need to rest in bed and you can even exercise and go back to any other activities. You can also return to your normal oral hygiene habits the day of your procedure—brush for 2 minutes twice a day and floss at least once a day.
2–3 Days After Your Root Canal
If your tooth was restored with a dental filling, you can resume your normal diet once your mouth is no longer numb, but if you are waiting for a dental crown, you’ll need to take care not to dislodge the temporary restoration. Don’t chew on the side of the mouth where you had your root canal treatment and avoid hard and sticky foods until your crown has been placed.
As far as pain is concerned, it’s normal to have some tenderness, sensitivity, and aching for a few days after a root canal treatment. You may also have a sore jaw or a bruise-like feeling at the anesthesia injection site. Rinsing with warm salt water can help alleviate this, as can over-the-counter pain medication. After a few days, your pain should be resolved; if, instead, your pain is getting worse, call our office right away.
2 Weeks After a Root Canal
Within 2 weeks of your root canal treatment, you will need to have a dental crown placed in order to restore your treated tooth, unless you had a dental filling instead. This will protect your tooth from reinfection and restore its strength to prevent fractures and other dental issues. A temporary filling will only last about 2 weeks, so your appointment to get a crown will be scheduled within a week or two of your root canal treatment.