What to Expect After Your Root Canal

What to Expect After Your Root Canal
March 6, 2020 Adam Harwood

Many patients express concerns before undergoing root canal treatment.  That’s completely understandable for several reasons. It’s probably a new procedure for them, often performed by a new doctor, and they worry it might be an uncomfortable experience.

Then they get through the procedure and realize, it wasn’t so bad after all.  Of course, it’s also at this point they begin to wonder: what’s next?  What can they expect after the endodontic treatment is complete? What should they be on the lookout for, and what are some of the dos and don’ts.

For that reason, we’ve put together a summary of what patients can expect after a root canal, as well as the signs of a few post-procedure complications that occasionally occur.

Will There be Any Pain?

Any pain after a root canal is generally mild. An over-the-counter pain relief medicine like Advil or Tylenol will generally be enough to ward off any initial discomfort. In some cases, your endodontist will prescribe something stronger. Be sure to follow the directions carefully.

If you feel any sharp pain or pain that doesn’t go away, report this to your endodontist.

Post Procedure Restoration

While the root canal has been sealed permanently, the outer tooth surface is usually sealed with only a temporary restoration. Your endodontist will send you back to your general dentist, who have you in for a follow-up appointment to complete the restoration of your tooth, usually by putting in a final crown.

One thing to be especially aware of after the root canal is that your tooth is much more prone to suffering a crack or fracture. Because so, you’ll want to avoid hard foods and try to chew food on the opposite side of your mouth until your general dentist has completed the protective restoration.

Remember to brush and floss daily as you normally would – to keep the area clean and avoid infection.

In rarer cases where a tooth’s strength is seriously compromised, your general dentist may need to place a post and core build-up inside the tooth. Your general dentist will determine the most appropriate restoration method and explain to you how best to protect your affected tooth.

Possible Post-Root-Canal Complications

There is a slight chance that nerve injury can occur during root canal surgery to any of your lower posterior teeth. The root tips may be located near a nerve that supplies feeling to the lip, chin, and gums. You might feel either numbness or a tingling sensation. This will usually resolve in a few days, but you should always inform your endodontist of any concern you have after the treatment has been performed.

If an upper tooth was involved in your procedure, your sinuses may be affected. While this too will generally heal on its own, you should be careful when sneezing or blowing your nose.  Report any long-lasting (more than a few days) discomfort to your endodontist.

Symptoms That Mean It’s Time to Call Your Endodontist:

  • Severe pain that lasts more than a few days
  • You see visible swelling inside or outside your mouth
  • You experience an allergic reaction to your medication
  • The temporary crown or filling comes loose or out
  • The symptoms you experienced prior to the root canal treatment reoccur.
  • Your sinuses are in pain

A root canal is a preferable procedure because it preserves your natural tooth, which is always a desired outcome. As with any surgery, it’s just important to monitor yourself for any post-procedure concerns and be sure to raise them with your endodontist. All of them are treatable, once we know they are there.