A root canal is often the best way to save a natural tooth after infection sets in and threatens the roots of the tooth. These infections often lead to intense pain, fever, and other symptoms that you’ll want to resolve as soon as possible. While a root canal is a major dental procedure, the recovery period afterward is not too long or too serious. Taking good care of yourself after the root canal will give you the best recovery experience possible.
1. Plan for 2 to 3 Days of Recovery
The effects of the root canal will take about 48 to 72 hours to recover from. Most people return to work or school the next day, but they should still take it easy and avoid anything strenuous until three days have passed. This encourages good healing around the gum tissue and roots and helps you work any anesthesia or sedation out of your system.
2. Get Plenty of Rest
If possible, rest in bed for the remainder of the day after the root canal. If you return to your normal routine the next day, make sure to get 8 to 10 hours of rest to encourage good healing. Take time off if possible for the first few days so you can recover in peace. This is especially important if you have a busy or physically demanding lifestyle, which can put stress on your dental work and increase the chances of secondary issues.
3. Watch for Bleeding or Fever
The root canal should heal just fine on its own over the next few days after the procedure. If you notice any bleeding beyond the immediate spotting after the treatment, you should call the dentist and potentially schedule a visit. Fever is a more serious sign that there’s an issue since it indicates infection. Consider seeing an emergency dentist if it’s a weekend or holiday since infection should be treated immediately if it sets in after a root canal.
4. Take Any Prescribed Medications
If the dentist or endodontist has prescribed antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications, make sure to take them all to protect the results of the root canal. Pain medication can be used only as needed since many root canals don’t cause a lot of discomfort during the recovery period. If you have any concerns about certain medications in particular, discuss them with your dentist before the root canal.
5. Avoid Exercise and Heavy Lifting
The gum tissue has to heal around the tooth roots where the root canal occurred, so you need to let your body rest by avoiding strenuous activities. Take a few days off from your workout routine, turn down any tasks at work that require heavy lifting, and don’t try to pick up your growing toddler while recovering. Even just 72 hours without too much activity will increase the chances of successful healing of your root canal.
6. Wait Until Numbness Wears Off
It’s often recommended that you avoid eating and drinking the morning of the procedure or even the night before. If you’re hungry and ready to eat, you’ll need to limit yourself to meal-replacement drinks or milkshakes until the numbness wears off. Once you can feel your tongue and cheek and avoid biting yourself, you can eat any soft foods like mashed potatoes, smooth soups, or pudding. You can resume your normal diet about 48 to 72 hours after the root canal, which the dentist will advise you on.
7. Consider a Designated Driver
Some root canals are performed only under mild nitrous oxide sedation and local anesthesia. In these cases, you may be able to drive yourself home after a few hours of recovery. It’s best to arrange for someone to drive you home even in these cases since you can get back to your own place much faster and safer to start the recovery process. Any root canal involving general anesthesia will definitely require a designated driver to pick you up.
8. Skip Smoking and Vaping
When recovering from any dental procedure like a root canal, it’s best to avoid smoking or vaping for at least a week afterward. The action of sucking on a vape pen or cigarette pulls on the healing area and damages the tissue, while the nicotine or other products inhaled can dry out the gums as well. Switch to non-oral alternatives like patches if you must have nicotine for the recovery period.
9. Treat the Temporary Crown with Care
Immediately after a root canal is complete, a temporary crown is used to cap and protect the tooth. Don’t treat this installation like a permanent crown. It’s not as strong, so chew carefully and stick to a diet free from hard, crunchy, and sticky foods until your new crown is in place.
10. Follow Your Dentist’s Specific Instructions
Every root canal is different, and each patient will need specific instructions from their dentist to ensure good healing. You may need a longer recovery period, or the dentist may advise you to rinse with salt water or use cotton padding around the gum tissue for a longer period. Follow all instructions specific to your condition for the best healing results.
Recovery from a root canal doesn’t take long when you trust us here at Eastgate Dental Excellence to handle the procedure. Contact us today for a consultation if you suspect you’ll need this kind of treatment in the near future.