Despite what you may have heard, root canal therapy isn’t painful; in fact, many patients say it’s no more uncomfortable than having a tooth filled! That said, you can expect some discomfort after the surgery is complete. It’s important to be prepared ahead of time, so here’s what you can expect during recovery from root canal therapy.
Will There Be Pain After Root Canal Therapy?
A local anesthetic is used during the surgery, so you won’t feel any pain while it’s happening (although you might experience some pressure). Once the anesthetic wears off, you’ll probably feel some mild discomfort and sensitivity. This usually isn’t anything to worry about; in fact, you can control it most of the time with simple over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen (although sometimes you might receive a prescription).
The pain and any swelling should fade after a few days; otherwise you should contact your dentist right away.
What’s the Recovery Process Like?
In addition to using over-the-counter medications, you’ll need to take care of your teeth until you’ve fully recovered. Avoid chewing with the treated tooth until the tenderness is gone so that the surrounding tissues will heal properly. This is especially important if you haven’t received a dental crown yet, as the tooth will be very fragile without it.
Hard and crunchy foods should be avoided after root canal therapy. Plan to stick to a soft food diet for a few days; this includes soups, yogurt, cottage cheese, soft scrambled eggs, smoothies, and mashed potatoes. Be careful around especially hot or cold foods.
While your mouth is still healing, there’ll be an increased risk of infection, so it’s important to practice excellent oral hygiene in the meantime. Continue brushing twice a day using gentle circling motions, and don’t forget to floss in order to clean all the hard-to-reach areas in your mouth. (Patients who have trouble with traditional string floss can use water flossers or interdental brushes as an alternative.)
Can I Still Work While Recovering from a Root Canal?
The discomfort in the days following a root canal isn’t usually particularly severe and shouldn’t stop you from performing your regular day-to-day tasks. After the day of the surgery, you should be able to return to work without any problems, although it’d be a good idea to keep your pain medication on hand in case you need it.
Remember, the pain during root canal recovery is a lot less than what you’d experience if an infected tooth is left alone. As long as you take good care of your smile and follow the instructions of your dentist in Colorado Springs, you should be able to get through the healing period without any major problems.
About the Author
Dr. Richard A. Cea has over 25 years of dental experience and is a member of the Colorado Springs Dental Society. For patients with badly infected teeth, he offers comfortable, effective root canal therapy at his practice, Springs Dental Care. To schedule an appointment, visit his website or call (719) 637-1772.