Each day, about 41,000 root canals are performed in the U.S. — that’s about 15 million every year. Root canal therapy can be an excellent choice for patients whose teeth cannot be saved with a simple filling. It involves removing damage to the interior pulp so the natural tooth can be strengthened and saved from further damage.
With advances in techniques and pain management, root canals aren’t nearly as worrisome for patients as they used to be. At Briglia Dental Group, we help patients preserve their natural teeth with modern restorative procedures after root canal treatment. We also use the most advanced pain relief, techniques including sedation.
Patients who follow the key do’s and don’ts of root canal aftercare tend to heal faster and have much better outcomes.
Why Root Canal Aftercare Is Important
Root canal therapy is a rather routine procedure that offers excellent outcomes. Because it affects the structure of the tooth, aftercare is important. Patients should follow a few rules to ensure a speedy and successful recovery.
Unfortunately, some patients lose teeth after a root canal because the tooth fractured or split. If a tooth fractures below the gums, there’s no way to save it and it must be extracted. Most teeth require a protective crown after a root canal. Patients risk a fractured tooth by waiting too long to return to the dentist for crown placement. The picture below shows an example of this.
Root Canal Aftercare
If you need a root canal to save one or more of your teeth, here’s what you should do for the best outcome possible:
Reduce Stress on the Tooth
Until the crown is placed, the tooth is unprotected. Avoid chewing on that side of your mouth to reduce stress on the treated tooth.
Choose Soft Foods
Avoid crunchy or hard foods. Eating foods that are hard or crunchy increases the risk of damaging the temporary filling. This filling serves to seal the tooth until a permanent restoration is placed. Hard foods can damage the filling or even break the tooth. To be extra safe, try to avoid these foods until the final restoration is in place.
Brush Teeth Gently
Be careful when brushing and flossing in the treated area. The tooth and surrounding gums still need proper care, of course, so be thorough, but gentle. It may be a little more difficult to floss around the temporary filling. Take your time and don’t force the floss. If you have difficulties, contact the dentist so that we can reshape the filling if needed.
Get Crown Placed
A root canal removes the interior portion of your tooth, making the structure weaker. For that reason, in nearly every case, a crown or “cap” is used to protect the tooth and prevent damage. Crowns are usually placed in a second procedure, once your tooth and mouth have a chance to heal.
Treat Discomfort as Needed
Take pain relievers to manage discomfort and reduce inflammation. Non-prescription, anti-inflammatory medicine like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen will help reduce any pain you feel in the first few days after the procedure.
Thanks to advances in techniques, most patients experience little to no pain after a root canal. Most discomfort is relatively mild and related to bruised tissues around the treated tooth. Sensations vary depending on each patient’s procedure and tolerance. Generally, patients who have discomfort feel it for only one or two days and it gradually subsides. Pain that doesn’t go away or increases in intensity could be a sign of a problem. You should call our office right away to request a checkup.
What to Expect after a Root Canal
Once the root canal is complete, your next visit will be made to keep treatment on track. Crown placement should be completed within a few weeks. For the best recovery, it’s important to keep all your appointments. Skipping visits can cause damage to the treated tooth or infection.
Let your dentist know if you have any problems with the treated tooth or the area around it.
To learn more about the techniques we use to reduce or eliminate discomfort during and after root canal therapy, contact the Briglia Dental Group. You can reach our office (610) 692-4440 or use the online appointment form to request a visit.