Headed in for a root canal? Although you may not be especially excited about this trip to the dentist, remember that root canals are a routine and quick procedure. And these days, in the right hands, the procedure is essentially painless and produces very little discomfort. A root canal recovery can often leave your mouth swollen and tender, however. So while you might be looking forward to a recovery filled with ice cream, pudding, and soup, there are a few other factors to keep in mind to make sure your tooth and mouth heal quickly and properly.
Root Canal Recovery
What Is a Root Canal?
Despite the horror stories, root canals are a simple, straightforward dental procedure. Once a tooth has been damaged or an infection or decay has set in, your dentist might suggest a root canal in order to save the tooth. The procedure itself is relatively uncomplicated. A small opening is created in the top of your tooth in order to remove the sensitive nerve inside. The space that holds the nerve is called the root canal. Once the nerve has been removed, the tooth and root canal can be cleaned, filled, and crowned.
How Long Is Recovery?
Most numbing medications used during a root canal wear off two hours after the procedure. This means your mouth will be swollen and numb for a little while during your root canal recovery. For this reason, it’s recommended that you limit your food and beverage intake until the numbness has faded in order to avoid biting your tongue and cheek.
Some swelling and sensitivity around the affected tooth is normal a few days into your recovery. Be sure to talk with your dentist about what to expect during your root canal recovery and how to manage any lingering pain. According to the American Association of Endodontists, you should contact your dentist right away if one of the following happens:
- You experience severe pain that lasts more than a few days.
- There is visible swelling inside or outside of your mouth days after the procedure.
- You have an allergic reaction to your medication.
- Your bite is uneven.
- The temporary crown or filling comes out.
Common Mistakes Patients Make After a Root Canal
Even once the swelling has subsided, treat your mouth with care. Most dentists wait a week or two before putting a permanent filling and crown on the affected tooth in order to make sure the tooth doesn’t have a bad reaction to the procedure. Avoid eating crunchy or sticky foods while the temporary filling is in place. The filling can be easily dislodged, which could put your tooth at risk for infection. Crunchy foods can even crack the tooth itself.
Be sure to schedule a follow-up appointment to have a permanent filling and crown put in as soon as your root canal is finished. This will reduce the amount of time the treated tooth is at risk for infection or damage.
Long-Term Health of Your Tooth
Even without its original root, your tooth should last a lifetime as long as you practice good dental hygiene. Be sure to brush and floss regularly, and keep an eye out for any swelling or pain around the treated area. Even something as simple as brushing your teeth can make a big impact on the health of your mouth. Here’s a quick breakdown of how to properly brush those pearly whites and keep them in good shape for years to come. A root canal might sound invasive, but it’s one of the best ways to save a natural tooth.
If you have more questions or concerns about your root canal recovery, don’t hesitate to contact us. At Duff Family Dental, we offer a full line of general, cosmetic, pediatric, and restorative dentistry services. Call us at 417-501-8601 or schedule an appointment online today!