If you’ve never had a root canal treatment before, it’s likely that you have a number of questions about what to expect after the procedure. While the recovery from a root canal is nowhere near as lengthy as that of a tooth extraction, it may take some time before you feel “back to normal” again. Below, we address some of the most common questions patients have about what to expect after a root canal treatment.
How long will I be numb?
During your root canal treatment, your tooth and the area surrounding it will be numbed with local anesthetic, which can take several hours to wear off. Avoid eating foods that need to be chewed and hot beverages until the numbness has worn off.
How soon can I eat and/or drink following the root canal procedure?
It’s best to wait until the local anesthetic has worn off before eating, but if you are thirsty or hungry, you should wait at least 30 to 40 minutes after your treatment to ensure that the temporary filling has hardened.
Is it okay to eat on the tooth with the root canal?
It is best to try to avoid chewing on the tooth with the root canal and to chew on the opposite side of your mouth until your final restoration has been placed by your dentist. You should also avoid hard or sticky foods, as these have the potential to dislodge the temporary restoration.
Will I be able to go back to work after the root canal?
Yes, most people go back to work following their root canal treatment, although note that your lips, teeth, cheek, and/or tongue may be numb for several hours afterward. If you have a job that involves a lot of speaking or working with the public, you may wish to take the rest of the day off.
Can I drive myself?
You can drive yourself to and from your appointment as long as your root canal treatment doesn’t involve conscious sedation. If you have no sedation at all or opt for nitrous oxide, it is safe to drive yourself home.
Is it okay to brush and floss my teeth?
Yes, you should return to normal oral hygiene habits after your treatment, although please wait 30 to 40 minutes after your root canal before you brush your teeth to ensure that the temporary filling has hardened.
Is it alright to exercise after the procedure?
Unlike a tooth extraction, there is no downtime needed after a root canal treatment, but you should wait until the local anesthetic has worn off and the temporary filling has hardened before exercising.
Is it normal for my gums or jaw to be sore after the procedure?
You may experience some irritation from your root canal treatment or from the rubber dam; sometimes, the injection site may also be sore. Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of warm water and rinse your mouth with this mixture 2 to 3 times a day to relieve any discomfort or use over-the-counter pain medication if needed.
Will my tooth be sensitive after treatment?
Your tooth may feel tender or have a dull aching feeling for a few days after your root canal treatment. This is temporary and responds well to over-the-counter pain medication.
Is my tooth open after treatment?
Your tooth will be sealed with a temporary filling after your root canal procedure, so it is not open.
Do I need any other treatment after a root canal?
Yes, you will need to have a permanent restoration placed by your dentist. Usually this is a dental crown, but sometimes a dental filling is sufficient. Your permanent restoration protects your treated tooth from recontamination and restores its strength to prevent fractures. You should return to your general dentist for your restoration as soon as possible after your root canal, as the temporary filling can only last up to 2 weeks. We will send a detailed report about your root canal treatment to your dentist, including digital images for their records.