At the mere mention of a root canal, some of us automatically think back to the scene in Marathon Man where Dustin Hoffman’s character is tortured by a sadistic dentist.
Except in real life, dentists are actually trying to help you achieve a healthy, beautiful smile. Which means, even if a root canal sounds scary, it’s actually going to help you feel better.
Rather than letting your imagination get the better of you, keep reading this article. We’re going to share with you what to expect after a root canal.
We promise it won’t be scary.
What To Expect After A Root Canal
Your dentist has probably already explained to you that the reason you need a root canal is that your tooth is dead. But a dead tooth doesn’t always mean it needs to be extracted.
However, when you require a root canal, it means your tooth is infected. If no action is taken, the infection can spread and put you in danger of developing something worse.
If your dentist tells you to get a root canal, don’t put off the procedure. A root canal helps you keep your tooth while saving the bone around it as well.
And while a tooth may be dead, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still use it to chew foods and keep your teeth straight.
What To Ask After The Procedure
Root canals are delicate procedures. There are things that can go wrong. Make sure you understand the entire procedure and the risks it entails before you go ahead with it.
Once the procedure is over, ask your dentist how difficult he or she thought it was. Make sure they tell you how easy or difficult it was to negotiate the canals.
It’s your dentist’s obligation to tell you if anything went wrong during your root canal.
It’s also possible for instruments to break off inside the canal. If that happens, your tooth will become re-infected. You’ll need to know if that happens to protect yourself.
How To Prepare For the Ride Home
By now, you’re probably on antibiotics to help you fight off the infection. But you were also either given either local anesthesia or something stronger to knock you out.
If you were knocked out, definitely arrange for someone to drive you home. If you had local anesthesia, it still may make more sense to get a ride home just in case.
When You Can Start Chewing Again
As your dentist will explain to you, the second part of the procedure is to put a crown on the tooth to help protect it from further damage.
You’ll need to come back after the root canal procedure to have the crown fitted.
In the meantime, don’t chew or bite on the treated tooth until your dentist has put the crown on it. And don’t put off getting the crown because your root canaled tooth is now prone to fracture.
In between your root canal and the crown, continue to practice good oral hygiene. That means brushing and flossing at least twice a day.
Let’s Discuss The Pain After A Root Canal
The biggest question most people have when they’re told they need a root canal is, “do root canals hurt?”
The truth is that there isn’t always pain after root canal. Your tooth will be tender, but not everyone feels any pain.
If you do feel pain, it tends to peak between 17 and 24 hours after your procedure. To help you feel better, elevate your head while sleeping for the first two nights.
If the pain after root canal is too much to bear, take whatever pain medication your doctor recommends.
Soreness After A Root Canal
While not usual for most patients, some people do feel some tenderness and soreness after a root canal.
If you do feel soreness and tenderness, it usually happens when you’re chewing. And it can happen for up to six months, even after your crown has been placed over the tooth.
Many dentists theorize that those who feel tenderness and soreness do so because the infection was so great in the tooth that it affected the surrounding areas. Those areas include your jaw bone and it just takes some time for your body to heal itself.
Don’t Wait To Get Your Crown
Waiting to get your crown placed over your tooth is not a good idea. The longer you wait, the more likely it is your tooth will crack or fracture.
Also, one the root canal is finished, the tooth is weaker and dried out. A crown ensures your tooth can’t fracture or crack.
Many people want to wait on getting the crown because they don’t want to max out their insurance. However, that’s like playing Russian Roulette with the work you’ve already had done.
If your tooth breaks before your crown is installed, you could lose the investment you spent on having the root canal performed and then spend extra money on an implant and a crown.
Be careful with that tooth until the crown has been placed over it.
When To Get Your Next Check-Up
Your dentist will want to see you after root canal to check up on it in six months. After that, they’ll want to check on how well it’s doing every five years.
When To Stop A Root Canal
There are times when a dentist will have to stop performing the root canal because an issue has come up.
This can happen when an instrument breaks off inside your tooth.
It can also happen if the canal is calcified. This means the tooth was trying to perform its own type of root canal and due to calcification, the dentist won’t be able to get inside it to fill it.
Sometimes a dentist finds a fracture in your tooth that wasn’t visible on an x-ray. Fractures can cause seepage at the fracture line. This can lead to bone loss.
Bone loss means a loss of support for the tooth.
Lastly, if the dentist discovers what’s known as complex canal morphology or a curved root. If your dentist can negotiate to the tip of the canal, it lessens the chance they’ll be successful with your root canal.
Schedule Your Appointment
Any procedure can feel scary. But your health comes first.
If you suspect you need a root canal, contact your dentist immediately.
They’ll examine you and then discuss with you what to expect after a root canal.
If you need a dentist, we’re here to help. Contact us to schedule an appointment.