Having a root canal treatment is one big step toward saving an infected or damaged tooth. However, the root canal procedure itself, which has a 95 percent success rate, is only the beginning of the treatment process. There are several steps you can take – some immediately after your root canal and some over the long run – to ensure your tooth heals properly.
Caring For Your Teeth After A Root Canal
- Post-operative care. Immediately after the treatment, don’t bite down or chew with the treated tooth. You can manage discomfort with over-the-counter pain medication and by applying an ice pack to your face for 10 minutes every 20 minutes to reduce swelling. Return to your endodontist if discomfort persists or your original symptoms return.
- Taking prescribed medications. It is critical that you take all medications that may have been prescribed by your endodontist after your treatment.
- Dental restoration. Make an appointment with your general dentist around two weeks after your root canal so he or she can place a crown on the treated tooth to protect it from reinfection. A crown can also provide important support to the compromised tooth’s structure.
- Periodic endodontic appointments. Don’t skip follow-up visits to your endodontist after your restoration is in place. Your endodontist will examine the root canal by using X-rays and other assessment tools to make sure there are no signs of infection and to monitor healing.
- Good oral hygiene. You can keep your restored tooth healthy by brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily, and getting dental cleanings regularly.
“Some patients think their root canal is finished once they leave their endodontist’s chair,” says Dr. Susan Wood, who practices with the Phoenix Endodontic Group. “But the treatment is a process, not an event. Following your aftercare instructions is crucial.”