A root canal can be an appropriate treatment to save an infected or severely damaged tooth from extraction. Your tooth’s inner layer consists of soft tissue called the pulp. When you have a deep cavity or severe damage to the tooth, it leaves the tissue vulnerable to infection.
This is very painful as the tissue contains blood vessels and nerves that are very sensitive. Because the pulp is located at the crown of your tooth leading into the root, even a small but deep cavity can lead to infection and the tooth can become abscessed. When this happens, your dentist in Lakewood will recommend a root canal procedure with an endodontist (a dentist specially trained to perform root canals) so as to remove the decay and infection – and save your tooth! After your root canal procedure, it’s important to see your regular dentist as soon as possible to determine the best next steps so it doesn’t get reinfected. Here’s what to expect following a root canal and what your Lakewood dentist recommends for recovery.
What Can I Expect After a Root Canal?
During the root canal, your endodontist removes the pulp, which reaches all the way into your roots. Although the pulp plays an important role in your tooth’s health, when infected it must be removed to save the tooth and root. Once the pulp is removed, the space must be filled with a rubber-like material. This seals the area, preventing further decay and infection. In most cases, the endodontist places a temporary filling in the space to completely protect the tooth until your follow-up appointment with your regular dentist.
At your follow-up appointment, your regular Lakewood dentist will check the tooth and surrounding area and decide whether they should complete the procedure with a crown or permanent filling to keep your tooth strong and avoid further infection. Following your root canal, you can experience inflammation and swelling, as well as sensitivity. However, the pain from the infection will subside completely. You might also find your bite feels uncomfortable. Once your dentist applies the permanent filling or crown, they will adjust the bite to make it more comfortable.
Root Canal After-Care
If you experience pain or discomfort following a root canal procedure you can take over-the-counter pain medication. Follow these steps after your root canal:
- Avoid eating until the numbness from the local anesthetic wears off. This will help avoid biting your tongue or cheek.
- Don’t bite down or chew using the tooth until your follow-up appointment to avoid damage.
- Continue to brush and floss as usual to reduce the risk for infection, being gentle in the area of the root canal.
- To prevent inflammation, avoid drinking hot drinks and alcohol.
- Do not smoke.
- Do not use a straw.
- Apply cold compresses to your face if it feels swollen for 15-minute intervals on and off.
- You can also rinse with warm salt water to reduce the risk of infection.
Until your permanent filling or crown is inserted, you should stick to softer foods and avoid anything hard like candy.
How Long Does Recovery Take?
For most patients, recovery after a root canal usually takes a week or two if the tooth was VERY painful leading up to the treatment. If you had no pain before it, we expect recovery to be a day or two..
What Are Recovery After A Root Canal Flags I Should Watch For?
If you notice any of the following symptoms, speak to your dentist:
- Severe pain lasting more than two days
- A feeling of pressure in the tooth
- Visible swelling at the site or on your face
- Rash, hives or itching which could be an allergic reaction
- Uneven bite
- Your temporary crown or filling feels loose or falls out
- Similar symptoms prior to your treatment return
In most cases, your root canal will be successful, and you will be relieved of the pain caused by the infection.
Schedule your next appointment with Dr. Elizabeth Turner here and she’ll help you decide if you need a root canal for your infected tooth.
Interested in learning more about restorative dentistry? Check out our resources here.