No one looks forward to getting a root canal, but it can be a relief to finally have the necessary treatment after days or weeks of tooth pain. Most root canals are quick to heal from, and there is little to no pain once the procedure is complete -- as long as you care for the site properly and avoid infection. The following tips can help you do just that so you can be as comfortable as possible following your root canal.
#1: Follow post-procedure hygiene requirements
The hygiene methods recommended can vary greatly depending on the exact root canal procedure. If you have been fitted with a temporary crown, for example, you will be able to brush as usual but may be advised to avoid flossing or to floss carefully, so you don't accidentally dislodge the temporary crown. In some cases, your dentist may not crown the tooth temporarily while awaiting the permanent crown. If this is the case, brushing and flossing gently is acceptable, but you will also be provided with a small bottle with a narrow nozzle. Use this to flush out the tooth after eating anything so that food doesn't collect in the open tooth, as this can lead to infection.
#2: Take all of your medication
Most root canals aren't highly painful after the fact, so pain medication may not be prescribed. You will likely be prescribed antibiotics, though. These are designed to wipe out any lingering infection that remains after the root canal treatment, while also ensuring that no new infection affects the healing tooth. It is vital that you take the entire course of antibiotics, even if you feel fine. Failing to do so can make you susceptible to contracting even worse bacteria that can't be destroyed easily by antibiotics.
#3: Choose food with care
There are typically few food restrictions following a root canal. As a matter of course, it's a good idea to avoid exceptionally hard foods, such as hard candy, and very sticky foods, like gum. These can damage a crown or even completely pull off a temporary crown. If you don't have a crown yet placed, you also need to avoid any small foods that could get into the tooth, like rice or popcorn kernels. Soft foods may also be more comfortable to chew for a few days following the procedure if you are particularly sensitive.
Talk with a dentist both before and after the procedure to ensure you do everything possible to ensure a swift and comfortable recovery.