Although root canal treatments have an overall success rate that exceeds 90 percent, patients who have never needed endodontic treatment may be concerned with how much time it will take to recuperate. The good news is that most people can go back to work or school the day after a root canal treatment. However, it often requires two visits to complete a root canal, spaced out over several weeks’ time, depending on individual circumstances.
You can make your recovery after a root canal treatment as smooth as possible by following a few simple guidelines in the hours, days, and weeks after treatment.
Hours after your procedure: It’s possible to experience discomfort after your root canal, but this is usually mild to moderate for most people and can be easily managed with over-the-counter pain relievers. You can protect your newly treated tooth by making sure that you:
- Eat soft foods, such as applesauce or yogurt, that require little chewing.
- Avoid hot or crunchy foods.
- Minimize chewing with the tooth that’s been treated.
Days after your procedure: If you had pain before your procedure, it’s possible you’ll have sensitivity in the tooth that received the root canal treatment. If over-the-counter pain relievers are not effective, you should contact your endodontist for further instructions. Also, while you should immediately resume brushing and flossing after your root canal, take extra special care with the area around the affected tooth so as not to dislodge the temporary filling that the endodontist placed over the root canal to keep it sanitary and protected.
Weeks after your procedure: Any discomfort you have in the days after your root canal should subside quickly. If the pain does not go away, or increases, call your endodontist for a recheck. Pain can be an indicator that the tooth has become re-infected, or has an undetected crack.
Also, you should make an appointment with your endodontist for some weeks after your initial root canal treatment to have a permanent restoration, usually a crown, placed over the top of the treated tooth. This is essential to keeping your natural tooth healthy for a lifetime.
“One of the most essential tools when recovering from a root canal treatment is open communication with your endodontist,” says Dr. Jacqueline S. Allen, who practices with the Phoenix Endodontic Group. “Your practitioner can help you understand how your recovery is progressing, and evaluate whether follow-up care is needed.”