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What To Expect After A Root Canal

October 17, 2021
a dentist works on a patient

If you've never had endodontic treatment before, you may not know what to expect after your procedure is complete. While root canal therapy recovery time is less than that of a tooth extraction, it may take a few days before you feel "normal" again. We've answered some of the most frequently asked questions regarding what to expect after a root canal treatment below.

How long will I be numb?

Your tooth and the tissue surrounding it will be numbed with local anesthetic during your root canal procedure. This anesthetic can take several hours to wear off completely. Avoid chewing and drinking hot liquids until the numbness has subsided.

How soon can I eat and/or drink following the root canal procedure?

Avoid hot liquids and foods that require chewing until the anesthetic has worn off. Then, you are free to eat anything as long as you avoid sticky foods and don’t bite or chew directly on the treated tooth. 

Is it okay to eat on the tooth with the root canal?

Chewing on the tooth with the root canal should be avoided. You will need to chew on the opposite side of your mouth until your dentist has placed your final restoration. 

Will I be able to go back to work after the root canal?

Most people choose to return to work following endodontic treatment, but if you have a job where you work with the public or do a lot of speaking, you may wish to take the rest of the day off because of the numbness caused by the anesthetic, which can impact your ability to smile and speak. In such cases, we can provide you with a doctor’s note, if needed.

Can I drive myself?

Yes, most of our patients drive themselves home from our office after endodontic treatment, as deep sedation is not required. If sedation is required, you will need to make arrangements for transportation.

Is it okay to brush and floss my teeth?

Yes, you can resume your normal oral hygiene routine following your root canal treatment, though you should wait at least 30 to 40 minutes after your procedure to ensure that the temporary filling is hardened before brushing your teeth.

Can I exercise after root canal treatment?

There is no need for downtime after a root canal treatment, but you should wait until the local anesthetic has worn off completely before exercising.

Will my tooth be sensitive after treatment?

For a few days after your root canal procedure, your tooth may be sensitive or have a dull aching sensation, but this is temporary. Strong prescription pain medications are not usually required after endodontic treatment. Instead, over-the-counter analgesics such as aspirin, Acetaminophen (Tylenol), Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and Naproxen Sodium (Aleve) are usually sufficient. We recommend taking an anti-inflammatory such as Ibuprofen. 

Is my tooth open after treatment?

No, your tooth is not open after treatment. Although you will need to go to your dentist for a filling or crown, your tooth will have a temporary filling in the meantime to protect it from reinfection and damage.

Do I need any other treatment after a root canal?

Yes, you will need to go to your dentist for a permanent restoration. This should be completed within 1-2 weeks after treatment. Our office will mail or email a full report of your endodontic treatment to your general dentist. 

Learn More About Root Canal Treatment

If you’d like to learn more about what to expect from a root canal treatment, or to make an appointment at one of our six North Shore and Boston-area locations, please contact us today.

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