Tips for What to do After a Root Canal

dental treatment

If you have an infected or severely damaged tooth, root canal treatment can save it. The procedure entails removal of the affected pulp of the tooth, with the help of a local anesthetic.

Dental pulp is located beneath the enamel and dentin layers of a tooth. It consists of living soft tissues: nerves, connective tissue, and blood vessels. While pulp helps the development of a tooth root, a fully-grown tooth can manage without it – the tooth gets its nourishment from surrounding tissue.

Problems with pulp can be caused by a cracked tooth, deep decay, repeated dental treatment to the tooth, or trauma. A root canal clears out dead pulp and replaces it with a robust filling material. The tooth is then sealed and secured with a crown. Sometimes, additional surgery is needed on the tip of the tooth to get rid of all the infected tissue and ensure an effective seal.

A root canal can usually be completed during one or two appointments, depending on the state of the tooth. According to root canal specialists at the American Association of Endodontics (AAE), root canal treatment is similar to a routine filling and no more painful. It ensures a natural appearance and the ability to eat with a normal bite force. A root canal will also protect other teeth from excessive wear.

If you’ve just had a root canal, it’s advisable to take certain measures to maintain a healthy mouth and ensure faster healing with less discomfort.

What Can I Eat After a Root Canal?

One of the most common questions asked by root canal patients after treatment is: What Can I Eat?

Immediately after treatment, you shouldn’t eat anything until the anesthesia wears off. If you attempt to eat too soon, the numbness may cause you to bite your cheek or tongue.

Once you’ve got the feeling back in your mouth, hard, crunchy and chewy foods should be avoided for a while. Your tooth may also be sensitive to heat or cold, so room-temperature foods like soft sandwiches are a good idea. Foods such as soft cereal, smoothies, and yogurt are particularly beneficial in soothing the area that’s been treated.

If you’ve had a temporary filling, awaiting the placement of a permanent crown, try to avoid biting on food with the tooth until it’s fully restored, and eat soft foods. Biting down on something crunchy could chip or break the filling. You should also eat slowly after a root canal.

Besides soft cereal, smoothies, and yogurt, other foods and drinks that are good after root canal treatment include applesauce, mangos, bananas, peaches, pears, milkshakes and ice cream. Foods to avoid include apples, carrots, corn on the cob, hard breads and candy, nuts and spicy food. Very hot food or drinks can increase sensitivity, and alcohol should also be avoided because it may increase bleeding.

Relieving Discomfort After a Root Canal

Generally, patients feel little pain after a root canal. Occasionally, though, some people experience mild discomfort in the ligaments surrounding the tooth, especially when biting or chewing. These ligaments can become swollen and sensitive to pressure. Your dentist may suggest pain relief products like ibuprofen for a few days to relieve the discomfort.

In rare cases, pain after a root canal can become severe. If this happens to you, see your dentist as soon as possible. They can lessen the biting pressure on the tooth to reduce the impact you experience while eating.

Other situations that warrant a call to your dentist are:

  • Swelling in or outside the mouth.
  • A return of the original symptoms.
  • Your bite feels skewed.
  • An allergic reaction to medication.
  • A temporary filling falls out.
  • A prolonged period of pain.

If you notice a slight bubble in the gum tissue and unevenness around the treated tooth, these symptoms are normal and should gradually wear off during the healing process.

Preventive Care After a Root Canal

During recovery from root canal treatment, you should maintain a good routine of brushing and be flossing your teeth and be using an antiseptic mouthwash. Regular check-ups are necessary for your dentist to monitor the condition of the treated tooth and your overall oral health. Professional cleanings by a dentist or dental hygienist will also help to keep your teeth and gums in good shape.

In most cases, a root canal restoration can last as long as your natural teeth. Occasionally, though, a tooth that has undergone a root canal does not heal properly. Preventive care will help to safeguard against this problem but a relapse can occur months or even years later. In cases like this, it’s likely that the procedure needs to be repeated.

Your dentist will give you specific instructions to follow after a root canal. For a successful recovery and outcome, it’s essential you listen carefully and follow this advice. If you have any questions or concerns during your recovery, call your dentist.

The recovery process after a root canal is fairly straightforward for most people, but everyone is different and recovery will vary between patients. More than 90 percent of root canal treatments are successful and don’t require any subsequent procedures.

Your tooth will be tender after a root canal so avoid putting excessive pressure on it through clenching your jaw. A night guard may help to keep your upper and lower teeth apart while you sleep. If you’ve been prescribed antibiotics after a root canal, make sure you take them as directed, to avoid the risk of infection.

Need More Advice?

In many cases, a root canal can avoid extraction of an infected or damaged tooth, eliminating the need for an artificial replacement, and restore your ability to eat normally and keep your natural smile intact.

Root canal treatment is relatively simple and the recovery process typically uncomplicated. However, if you have any problems or concerns following a root canal, and you need professional help, it’s advisable to look for a dentist who has undergone advanced training in endodontics.

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