Aftercare of Root Canal: A Complete Guide

If you are scheduled for root canal treatment, you may be feeling understandably nervous. 

Known for being one of the more invasive dental procedures, the first few days following your surgery are vital to the recovery process. 

Read on to find out everything there is to know about the aftercare of root canal treatment, including:

  • How long does it take to recover from root canal surgery? 
  • What can I expect the first few days after a root canal? 
  • Can I eat after root canal surgery? 
  • What are the best foods to eat after root canal surgery? 
  • Can I drive after root canal surgery?  
  • How can I help the healing process?
  • What can I use for pain management
  • Do I need to go back to see my dentist?


How long does it take to recover from surgery? 

Typically, it takes around 1 week to fully recover from root canal surgery, although this can differ slightly from one person to another. If you want to speed up your recovery, then you need to make sure that you are caring for the tooth and maintaining a good oral health routine. 

If, after 7 days, you are still experiencing pain and discomfort or you do not feel that the tooth is healing as it should be, schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. 

What can I expect the first few days?

When you return home, and the medication starts to wear off, you can expect to experience tenderness and discomfort on the treated tooth and surrounding area. This is completely normal and nothing to be concerned about. Your jaw may also feel somewhat sore from keeping your mouth open during the procedure. 

Pain, discomfort, and swelling are all to be expected after this type of dental surgery, so there is no need to be alarmed if you experience these symptoms. 

If you are worried about anything following your treatment, then get in touch with your dentist immediately. We provide excellent aftercare for root canals here at bafdentistry and are more than happy to offer our advice and expertise. 

Can I eat after surgery? 

It is not advisable to eat immediately after the root canal process as the local anesthesia takes a few hours to wear off. Once this has worn off and you can feel your mouth again, you can eat soft foods such as mashed potatoes and yogurt if you feel hungry and up to eating. 

For the first couple of days, you should avoid eating anything hard, such as apples, carrots, and candies that require biting, as this can worsen any pain and swelling. When you do start to eat foods that require chewing, try to chew on the other side of your mouth, as again will help to reduce any pain and discomfort. 

Also, avoid any foods and drinks that are hot or cold, as these can also make any pain worse. 

What are the best foods to eat after surgery? 

If you are unsure about what to eat after a root canal, then the below foods are all good choices:

  • Scrambled eggs 
  • Yogurt
  • Smoothies 
  • Mashed potatoes or vegetables 
  • Pasta and noodles 
  • Soups 
  • Soft fruits 

Again, remember that any food you eat should be room temperature or lukewarm, not too hot or cold, as this can cause further discomfort. 

Can I drive after root canal surgery? 

If you have only had a local anesthetic, then you can drive after surgery. However, most people prefer to have someone drive them home as they may be feeling a little sore and vulnerable. 

If you take an oral sedative or have IV sedation, then you are not allowed to drive, so you will need to find someone to take you home after your treatment. 

How can I help the healing process? 

After root canal therapy, it is imperative that you keep the area clean and maintain a good oral hygiene routine. You should continue brushing and flossing as usual but take extra care around the treated tooth. It can also be a good idea to use an antibacterial mouthwash as this will help to keep the area clean. 

You should avoid smoking and drinking alcohol after a root canal, as this can increase your risk of bleeding and hinder the healing process. 

Although you do not need to have someone with you when recovering from root canal treatment, if you are experiencing pain, you may like to ask a friend or family member to be with you for the first few hours after the surgery. 

What can I use for pain management

In most people, pain from root canals should only last a few days and over-the-counter pain relievers such as Ibuprofen should be sufficient. If you are in a lot of pain and the painkillers you are taking are not doing enough for you, then you should speak to your local pharmacist or get back in touch with your dentist. 

Always make sure that you follow the instructions for your chosen pain relievers to make sure that you do not experience any adverse side effects. 

Some people also like to place an ice pack on the side of their mouth in the first few hours following the treatment, as this can help to reduce swelling and any discomfort. 

Do I need to go back to see my dentist? 

Unless you start to experience any symptoms such as bad tooth pain, ongoing swelling, a bad taste in your mouth, or bleeding, you do not need to see your dentist until your next scheduled appointment. If you suspect that you have an infected tooth or an abscessed tooth, then you should contact your dentist immediately, as you may require antibiotics. 

Once your temporary filling or crown has been removed and a permanent one has been fitted, the root canal process is complete. However, your dentist may schedule a follow-up appointment to check that everything is as it should be and to ensure that the tooth is healthy and strong. If you experience any adverse symptoms after your permanent crown or filling has been fitted, such as bleeding or pain, then get in touch with your dentist as soon as possible.