Healthy teeth can last a lifetime. And you can keep your teeth healthy with two basic things: mindful daily oral hygiene home-care and visiting the dentist regularly to avoid needing a root canal.
But sometimes, due to negligence or even occasionally genetics, a tooth gets damaged from decay. It’s when that decay has gotten so deep that it can’t be fixed with a simple CEREC restoration. That’s when our dentist, Dr. James Powell, may recommend root canal treatment before a CEREC restoration can be placed. The root canal is necessary to remove the decay from the interior of the tooth, and after the canal is clean and bacteria-free, Dr. Powell will then remove the diseased areas of the tooth to save it.
If you need a root canal you might be wondering what the recovery will look and feel like before you feel like yourself once again. Your recovery and aftercare time is extremely important after a root canal treatment.
How Your Mouth Feels After a Root Canal
During your actual root canal treatment, you’ll be made comfortable with the help of anesthesia. For this reason, post-surgery, you also won’t want to chew anything until the numbness wears off, because you don’t want to unknowingly bite into your soft oral tissues.
It’s normal to feel mild to moderate pain after a root canal. However, if you have pain when biting down, or pain that persists for days after treatment it’s a good idea to give us or your endodontist a call. We want to make sure you aren’t having problems that could lead to infection.
Some swelling and tenderness are also normal for a day or two after the root canal procedure. The good news is, sensitivity and discomfort can typically be managed with over-the-counter pain meds. Properly managing your pain, tenderness and swelling are important! If you notice swelling, a cold compress placed outside the cheek in 5-minute cycles every 15-20 minutes or so can often provide much-needed relief, as can sleeping with your head elevated on a couple of pillows.
So typically, the recovery time for root canal treatment is minimal — one to two days.
Root Canal Aftercare
To best help you fully recover after your root canal, we recommend doing the following:
Take Your Prescription Medications
Medications can definitely help with the pain, discomfort, and soreness you might experience after surgery. Typically, over-the-counter pain meds work just fine. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAID’s (such as aspirin and ibuprofen), can also be your best friend as they manage inflammation in the tissue from your root canal.
However, in some cases, Dr. Powell or your endodontist may prescribe stronger painkillers as well as antibiotics to help during your recovery. Please take this medicine as recommended.
Avoid Using That Tooth
After your root canal procedure, a temporary filling is placed on the hole where the root canal treatment was performed. A temporary material is used so that in a couple of weeks your tooth’s canal can be checked to be sure that no decay was missed and that the infection in the tooth has been cleared.
During this time, before Dr. Powell has filled or covered the tooth with a permanent dental filling or a dental crown, we strongly recommend that you try not to use the treated tooth.
Plan your meals to get the nutrition you need without excessive chewing at this time. Sticking to soft foods like soups, smoothies, mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese are perfect. Now’s a good time to make use of grandma’s favorite soups! Try to chew your food on the opposite side of your mouth from the treated tooth so you prevent recontamination and infection from showing up.
Once the root canal visits are complete, it will be time to protect the tooth with a permanent restorative dental crown or onlay.
Brush and Floss
Would you believe gentle, careful cleaning of the treated tooth (and the surrounding areas) will help your healing and pain relief come faster? Brushing the treated tooth is still important and you’ll just want to be sure you take special care in that area.
Dr. Powell may recommend salt water rinses be done several times a day to soothe inflamed tissue and lower painful swelling.
You’ll also want to brush and floss the rest of your teeth like you normally do to keep your mouth clean and healthy (and protect against infection). If you need recommendations on how to properly clean your teeth and gums right now, please don’t be afraid to ask us!
Getting Enough Rest
We generally recommend that patients rest at least 24 hours after treatment. However, every patient is different and we might give you a different time frame. It’s vital that you catch your healing zzzzzz’s now so you’ll bounce back to your old self quickly.
Taking a day or two off of work is ideal (and will make you less grumpy), because let’s face it, recovery after oral surgery or any surgery leaves you feeling tired, sore and uncomfortable. Aside from sleeping, staying off your feet will also help you heal faster. Your body needs this recovery period so make sure you give your smile the recovery time it needs to bounce back. Now is the time to give yourself permission to relax.
The recovery period is especially not the time to exercise (bet you never thought you’d hear us say that!). While your body is trying hard to heal itself, exercise can make your mouth bleed again and your body ache. So just take it easy during the recovery period and choose something like walking during the first few days.
You should be able to return to regular exercise after the recovery period. It’s a good idea to discuss this with Dr. Powell or your endodontist to be sure of what will be best for you.
Now is not the time to vape or smoke! For the first few days, it’s best to stay away from those because this inhibits your body’s ability to heal quickly and effectively if you are inhaling those foreign chemicals into your body. It’s also a good time to give up this habit if you’ve been thinking about doing just that.
Keeping an Eye out for Problems
Some problems associated with root canal recovery include oral swelling, an allergic reaction to medications, an uneven bite, or the return of your original symptoms when you came in for a root canal. You might notice that you have an infection in your mouth. Call our office right away if you find yourself with any of the following:
- Swelling that goes on for more than 24 hours
- You see random rashes or hives on your body
- If your pain meds aren’t helping you feel better
We hope these root canal recovery tips help you achieve the strong, healthy smile you are looking for! If you need help with a problem tooth or if you have questions about our CEREC® Single-Visit Crowns, please call us at 661.349.7725 or reserve a visit online.