Root Canal Recovery
Full root canal recovery (when all tenderness and post-op symptoms are completely resolved) may take up to a month. However, most of the unpleasant part of recovery occurs in the first few days after the operation. After a couple of weeks, general swelling and soreness around the treatment site should also be largely resolved. Here’s an overview of what to expect during root canal recovery, starting immediately after the procedure.
Until the local anesthetic wears off, you probably won’t be able to feel much besides pressure in the treated area of your mouth. This may be followed by tingling as sensation returns. The temporary filling in your tooth will need a while to harden. Don’t try to eat or drink, and don’t use your tongue to probe the treatment site for at least half an hour.
Aftereffects of Sedation
Many patients are given nitrous oxide with a root canal so they can remain awake during treatment without feeling discomfort or anxiety. The effects of this inhaled sedative should wear off quickly after your procedure. You may be okay to drive yourself home afterward depending on how you feel. If you had IV sedation, the drugs used may take many hours to fully clear your system. You may feel nauseous and dizzy for some time after you “wake up.” After IV sedation, you should always have someone else drive you home.
Soreness during Root Canal Recovery
Throbbing pain, soreness, and bruising around the roots of your tooth and where the anesthetic was injected is normal. These symptoms may range from moderate to severe depending on your pain tolerance and the extent of the procedure. Your jaw, gums and entire mouth will probably feel sore for a couple of days. This is common with any dental procedure that requires your mouth to be open for long periods and that uses a rubber dam. Many patients are able to successfully manage discomfort with over-the-counter medications such as Ibuprofen or Tylenol. Others need stronger medications prescribed by their dentist. Sensitivity to pressure is another common root canal recovery symptom during the first few days. Sleeping with your head elevated may help minimize soreness and swelling.
Food Restrictions during Root Canal Recovery
Avoid consuming hot foods and beverages until your mouth feels normal again so you don’t burn yourself. Stay away from hard and crunchy foods until your permanent crown or filing is installed. Otherwise, you may break your tooth and need to have it extracted instead of restored. If you can, completely avoid chewing on the side of your mouth that has the treated tooth. The sooner you get your permanent restoration done, the sooner you can return to a regular diet.
Oral Hygiene during Root Canal Recovery
Using a warm salt water rinse several times per day during the first few days of recovery can reduce soreness. It also helps keep the area clean. In most cases, patients are advised to return to a normal brushing and flossing routine as soon as possible. Be gentle around the treated tooth, but make sure no food builds up around the treatment site.
Redness and swelling that is not readily controlled by medication may be a sign of infection and should be assessed immediately by your dentist. This symptom can occur when not all infectious material was successfully removed (leading to a recurrence of the abscess) or if new bacteria were introduced into the wound during or after the procedure. If the site begins oozing pus, or if you develop a fever, these are signs of serious infection. Significant pain that gets worse after the initial two-to-three-day tooth canal recovery period is called a flare up and is another sign that you may require follow up treatment. Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to reduce infection. In cases where the root canal failed to resolve an abscess, you may need a more extensive procedure such as an apicoectomy to remove the tip of the tooth root entirely.