How to: Care for Your Teeth After a Root Canal
If you have scheduled or have recently received root canal treatment, there are a few key steps you should follow and some key symptoms to look out for to ensure the proper healing of your newly restored and “disinfected” tooth, and to make sure that the tooth remains healthy for many years to come.
The whole reason your dentist recommends performing root canal treatment is because there was either an injury or enough decay, infection, and bacteria to significantly undermine your tooth. With that in mind, your primary goal is to prevent bacteria and infection from getting inside your tooth again.
While it’s normal for there to be some slight discomfort for just a couple days, you shouldn’t be too uncomfortable after your root canal treatment. Immediately after your procedure, your lips, mouth, and the roof of your mouth may still be a bit numb. During this time, try to avoid eating or drinking until the numbness from your procedure goes away.
While numbness should go away within a few hours and sensitivity can sometimes remain for up to a couple weeks, your recovery should be fairly quick and can be helped by over the counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen.
“When should I contact my dentist?”
Most patients recover from root canal treatment quickly and without major issues. However, if your bite feels uneven, or if pain and discomfort persist for more than a few days, don’t hesitate to contact your dentist. This could be a sign that not all of the infection was removed, and your dentist may need to “get back inside” the tooth to ensure a completely thorough job. For this reason, your dentist will often temporarily fill the tooth before a second appointment, to ensure that every bit of infected tissue is taken care of.
It is imperative that the filling and/or crown used to seal your root canal remains strong and intact. In order to protect this filling, make sure you avoid overly chewy foods (like caramel) and avoid chewing on hard substances and foods like ice cubes or popcorn kernels. By keeping the tooth sealed, you prevent further infection from entering the root canal and pulp chamber. However, if these spaces become open and vulnerable again – infection can potentially return.
What to Avoid after Root Canal Treatment
After your root canal treatment, do your best to avoid chewing hard or crunchy foods, since they could fracture the filling or crown. Always use caution when eating with the tooth that received a root canal, especially immediately after your procedure (before your dentist adds the final filling or crown).
On top of this, avoid applying direct pressure to your treated tooth with your finger, tongue, or any other object.
“Should I brush after a root canal?”?
Yes! You may brush and floss the tooth that was treated, but do so gently. If a temporary filling was made, you should avoid flossing until it is swapped with a permanent one.