Root canal treatment has a very high success rate. But what you do afterward also matters.
More than 41,000 root canals are performed daily, adding up to an annual total of 15 million. In addition to being one of the most common dental procedures, root canal therapy is ] one of the most effective, with a success rate of 97 percent.
As a restorative procedure, a root canal removes a bacterial infection and decay deep within the tooth’s pulp. Most dentists prefer a root canal that saves most of the natural tooth over an extraction. And the root canal itself is virtually painless with anesthesia. Your dentist will fit your root-canal-treated tooth in about two weeks with a permanent crown, and you’ll be all done. Yet what you do after the procedure can ensure a successful outcome, too.
Nine root canal aftercare tips
Your root canal recovery should generally last a few days to a week. Some mild pain and sensitivity are expected post-treatment. To speed up the healing time, try these nine aftercare tips:
Eat “softly.” Your mouth is bound to be sore after a root canal, so it’s best to stick to soft foods for a day or two. Mashed potatoes, cooked carrots, pasta, and yogurt are good choices. Avoid sticky or hard foods that could dislodge the temporary filling or crown on the treated tooth.
Take your medication. Your dentist may prescribe pain medications and/or antibiotics to stop the spread of an infection. Take them as directed. You can also buy over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Always check with your doctor about possible interactions with other medications you may be taking.
Rest for a few days. Although you can return to work the next day, you should refrain from strenuous exercise or activities such as jogging that could bounce your head. Wait until the pain subsides and you are fully healed.
Rinse with warm water and salt. Add salt to warm water and swish in your mouth to ease the pain. Don’t rinse with an alcohol-based mouthwash, as it could irritate the site.
Brush carefully. As you heal, you can start brushing and flossing again. Just make sure to tread carefully around the treated tooth and gums.
Elevate your head on a pillow. As you sleep, prop your head on a pillow to prevent blood from rushing to your head and causing swelling. Do this for a few days after the root canal.
Apply an ice pack. To tamp down on swelling, apply an ice pack to your face.
Stop smoking and limit alcohol. Tobacco and alcohol make it harder to heal from a root canal and can cause more pain. Stop smoking and drinking alcohol, at least for a few days afterward. Or use this opportunity to quit cigarettes altogether.
Chew around the treated tooth. After a few days, as you introduce more solid foods to your diet, try chewing on the opposite side of the treated tooth. This will give the tooth and gums a chance to heal.
Given the near 100 percent success rate of root canals, your chances of a complete recovery without complications are quite high. However, contact your dentist if the pain lasts over a week and you notice signs of an infection, such as pus draining from the site or a pimple on the gums. It’s rare, but you may need root canal retreatment.
Meet with the root canal specialists
Schedule an appointment at Espire’s Norman, OK, location today! Our highly trained dentists have done hundreds of root canals and can guide you through the recovery process. Don’t live near our Norman, OK, office? Find one of our other locations near you.
550 24th Ave. S.W.
Norman, OK 73069