Root canals are a type of endodontic procedure designed to save a patient’s natural tooth. An endodontic specialist or a general dentist treats an injured or infected tooth by cleaning the canals of the tooth root of their pulp and replacing it with a compound known as gutta-percha.
This procedure has a success rate upwards of 90 percent and can make a dramatic positive difference in a patient’s oral health. However, if you’ve been referred to an endodontist for a root canal, it’s only natural to wonder what your recovery period will look like. We asked Dr. Jacqueline S. Allen, an endodontist who practices with the Phoenix Endodontic Group, to explain what most patients can expect after a root canal.
Root Canal Recovery: What To Expect
- Your root canal should lessen any tooth-related pain you have been feeling. Some extra sensitivity may remain if you were previously feeling pain from an infection or injury, but that should respond to over-the-counter or prescription painkillers.
- You will need to avoid chewing with the treated tooth at first. Your root canal will have a temporary filling on top of it to seal the canals, but until you receive a permanent restoration such as a crown, you will need to minimize chewing with the treated tooth.
- You will want to continue your usual oral self-care regimen. Brush twice a day and floss daily to maintain the health of your entire mouth. Follow your dental provider’s recommended schedule for follow up appointments once your restoration is in place.
- You may return to normal activities the day after your root canal. You should be able to return to work or participate in most types of recreational activities you may have scheduled.
Despite advances in endodontic clinical technique and dental technology, not all root canals are successful. If a canal is not found and filled during the initial procedure, or if the tooth is challenged by a new infection or injury later on, you may need a root canal retreatment. It’s essential to alert your endodontist if discomfort returns to the tooth treated by the root canal.
“Many patients suffer unnecessary anxiety related to recovery from their root canal,” says Dr. Allen. “But recovery goes smoothly for most people, and a patient only has to observe a few extra precautions to ensure the success of their procedure.”