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Root Canal Post-Operative Instructions

What To Expect Following Endodontic (Root Canal) Therapy

Nearly 15 million root canals are performed every day in the US alone – that’s nearly 41,000 per day. If you’ve recently had a root canal, or know someone who has, following both the pre-operative and post-operative instructions will ensure that no damage is done to the site where the therapy has taken place and that the healing process continues uninterrupted.

Things to be aware of following root canal therapy:

  1. Dull pain – It is not uncommon for a tooth to be uncomfortable or even exhibit a dull ache immediately after receiving root canal therapy.  This should subside within a few days.
  2. Tooth sensitivity – Your tooth will be sensitive to biting pressure and may even  feel slightly loose.  This feeling is a result of the sensitivity/inflammation of nerve-endings and surrounding tissue just outside the end of the root(s) that were treated.  This is normal and will become progressively more comfortable within a few days.
  3. Rough areas – You may feel a rough area (on the top surface of a back tooth or on the back surface of a front tooth), where the access was made and sealed with a temporary filling.  The temporary filling seals and protects the root canal treatment from becoming contaminated and re-infected between appointments.  If the filling comes out or sinks down in the tooth it is important to contact our office to replace the filling to ensure the root canal therapy remains protected.
  4. Minor swelling – A small percentage of patients may experience severe post-treatment pain and/or swelling in the area that was treated.  If this occurs, please call our office immediately so we may address this problem.

What To Do Following Endodontic (Root Canal) Therapy

The firs thing we recommend is that you take an analgesic medication for pain-relief within one hour of leaving our office to allow the medication to be effective before the anesthesia administered begins to subside.  Generally only a single dose is required; however, some people may require pain-relieving medication over the next several days.

A few potential pain-relievers:

  1. Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) – Taking 400-800mg every 6 hours (without exceeding 3200mg/day) is recommended for patients able to take either Ibuprofen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, or aspirin.
  2.  Acetaminophen (Tylenol) – For people unable to take ibuprofen, non-steroidal medications, or aspirin, Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is recommended. The recommended dosage is 1000mg every 6 hours (without exceeding 4000mg/day). The consumption of alcohol is not recommended while taking acetaminophen or medications containing acetaminophen.

You also want to make sure that you minimize chewing on the affected tooth until your root canal therapy is completed and your dentist has placed a final restoration on your tooth.  This is to ensure no damage occurs.

Please contact your dentist to have your tooth restored within 1-2 weeks following completion of your root canal therapy.  If the tooth does not get the necessary final restoration and the temporary filling wear out, the root canal will become infected and need re-treatment or extraction. That is why it is extremely important to follow up with your general dentist immediately.

The 3 Step Post-Root Canal Therapy Checklist

Step 1: Reduce The Amount Of Stress Placed On The Teeth

Until the crown is placed onto your tooth, the tooth is completely unprotected. When unprotected, avoid chewing things (especially harder foods) on that side of your mouth until the crown is placed and the therapy site is completely protected. This will help avoid needing any type of fractured tooth management.

Step 2: Choose Foods That Are Soft

One of the most important factors in caring for your tooth after a root canal is making sure you stick to soft foods. Ones that won’t have the potential to damage the site of your root canal therapy. The filling’s job is to seal the tooth until a more permanent solution can be implemented – also known as a crown – so eating foods that are hard or crunchy may increase the risk of damaging the temporary filling. The last thing you want to do following a root canal therapy is damage the feeling or break the tooth, so being extra aware about what you eat will ensure that no problems occur regarding the healing of your tooth.

Step 3: Be Careful When Brushing

Brushing or flossing too aggressively can hinder the healing process or cause damage to the tooth that may call for another appointment. Although brushing and flossing is still recommended, because the tooth and surrounding gums still need proper care, it is advised that you take extreme caution and cleanse these areas with a gentle hand. You may find it more difficult to floss around the temporary filling, but don’t let the added difficulty deter you from following your regular tooth maintenance routine. The best course of action would be to take your time, apply pressure to the therapy site very gently, and contact your dentist or endodontist if you have any questions about tooth care following root canal therapy.

Adhering to our simple 3-step process will aid in recovery and ensure that a retreatment won’t be necessary.

The office telephone is answered day and night. If you need to call after hours, please have your pharmacy number available.  If you have any questions, please contact us or call our office at (213) 388-3636 to schedule your first visit.