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Root canals are an effective and relatively common dental procedure that saves an infected tooth. Although no one wants to hear that they need a root canal, this procedure is usually the best way to end the crippling toothache and other complications that come with a diseased tooth. Moreover, root canals are simple, straightforward procedures.
Some pain and discomfort are normal and expected during the days following your root canal procedure. That being said, there are ways to minimize pain and improve healing. Furthermore, it’s essential to practice good root canal aftercare to ensure a successful recovery and improved functionality of the mouth.
Below, we have provided a guide to help care for your oral health after undergoing a root canal:
Immediately After Your Root Canal
Anesthesia lasts several hours, so you will still feel numb after your appointment. For this reason, it is very important not to eat or drink anything until you regain feeling in your mouth. Otherwise, you may bite, burn, or injure the part of your mouth that is still sedated without realizing it. Additionally, you could bite down on the treated tooth by mistake and damage it.
Once the anesthesia wears off, you can begin to eat again. Ensure that you chew on the side of your mouth opposite to where you had your root canal to avoid damaging the treated tooth. Eat very carefully and try to chew as little as possible. As your mouth will already be swollen and extra sensitive, it’s important to avoid any foods that may irritate it further.
The best foods to consume immediately after root canal surgery are fruit smoothies, yogurt, and soft cereal.
Over the Next Few Days
These first few days are crucial for a successful recovery. You want to avoid causing any damage and try to minimize pain. That being said, pain, discomfort, and even a dull ache are all perfectly normal after a root canal procedure.
In the days following your root canal procedure, you must be careful not to irritate or injure your mouth. After a root canal, your mouth is swollen and sensitive. The goal is to reduce swelling as quickly as possible and allow your mouth to heal. Thus, you should continue to chew on the side of your mouth that did not have the root canal. You need to give the treated tooth and affected area time to recover.
It’s also important to choose your meals carefully. Certain foods and drinks can damage your mouth during recovery, causing additional complications and more pain. Follow these guiding principles in the days after your root canal surgery:
- After a root canal, you should only consume soft foods. Choose food that is easy to eat and doesn’t require a lot of chewing.
- Avoid anything that is overly hot or cold. Instead, opt for food and drink that is at a mild temperature. Your gums and teeth may be extra-sensitive to extreme temperatures, leading to pain and discomfort.
- Do not eat chewy or sticky foods, which can pull out the temporary filling or crown. Do not chew gum.
- Do not eat hard foods and substances such as apples, ice, candy, and carrots. These can damage the treated tooth.
- Avoid spicy foods, as they can also irritate sensitive areas.
- Do not drink alcohol, as this can increase bleeding.
If you’re still feeling unsure about what you can eat, here are a few suggestions:
- For breakfast, consider scrambled eggs, yogurt, or a smoothie.
- Ripe, canned, cooked, or soft fruit is a great snack.
- Mashed vegetables and meatloaf are good for dinner.
- Pasta and noodles are another dinner option.
- Cooked vegetables or vegetables blended into a lukewarm soup.
- Sorbet or frozen yogurt for dessert.
Oral hygiene is crucial as you recover from your root canal. While taking care of your teeth is always important, preventing infection is especially necessary now. Make sure to brush and floss the affected area gently. Do not pull the floss around the treated tooth; you can dislodge the temporary filling. Increase your use of mouthwash as well.
Pain management is essential in the days following a root canal. It is normal and expected to feel some discomfort for several days, especially when eating. A dull ache is not a cause for alarm. These uncomfortable sensations can last a few days but will sometimes persist for a few weeks.
You should have been prescribed anti-inflammatory and pain relief medication, which you should take as directed. You may have also been prescribed an antibiotic if the infection spread beyond the tooth's roots.
You can also rinse with lukewarm salt water to reduce pain and swelling. Simply dissolve a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water and then rinse, swish, and spit. Do this up to three times a day.
Long-Term Aftercare Following a Root Canal
A second appointment is scheduled after your initial root canal procedure. Once your mouth has healed, the temporary filling will be removed, and the root channel will be permanently filled and sealed. A permanent filling or crown is then used to complete the restoration of the infected tooth. The crown keeps the tooth from breaking in the future.
At this point, the root canal process is officially complete. However, you may be asked for additional follow-ups to check on the tooth. It is crucial that you never neglect any kind of follow-up appointment.
Additionally, you are not excused from long-term care. Maintaining good oral hygiene habits is absolutely essential, even if you haven’t had a root canal. You should continue brushing twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and floss once daily. Lastly, visit your dentist for regular check-ups to combat plaque buildup and catch cavities early.
Need a Root Canal in Toronto? Contact Bloor West Smiles
Dr. Kostirko has performed thousands of root canals throughout his over-25-year career. Thanks to his expertise and modern dental technology, a root canal is nothing to be scared of. You will regain the full function of your mouth without the extreme pain caused by an infected tooth.