Home Care Instructions

What to Expect After A Root Canal

What was done:

A root canal is the removal of the nerves inside of the root. Your root is still there. The roots of your tooth keep your tooth in your mouth. The spaces inside of the roots have been cleaned, sterilized and sealed with a material called Gutta Percha. A temporary filling has been placed in the biting surface of your tooth. As noted on the consent form, you will need to see your general dentist within six weeks to get a permanent restoration (filling, crown) placed. A permanent restoration will strengthen your tooth, protecting against fracture and decay. A delay of more than six weeks in getting this restoration will place your tooth and the root canal work in jeopardy, as the temporary filling will start to break down microscopically.

What you can expect after treatment

  • It is not uncommon for your tooth to be uncomfortable or even ache. It should be a dull ache, a bruising sensation that can be taken care of with Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).  You can take up to 600 mg of Ibuprofen every 6 – 8 hours or 1000 mg of acetaminophen every 8 hours. If ibuprofen or acetaminophen alone is not enough you can combine 600 mg of ibuprofen and 325 mg of acetaminophen together and take every 6 hours.
  • This pain should improve over one weeks time, and will eventually subside altogether.
  • Your tooth will be sensitive to biting pressure and normal chewing and can possibly feel loose at first. Keep in mind that although the nerves are removed from the inside of your tooth, the tooth sits in a socket filled with nerve endings, which register discomfort on a tooth that has been recently worked on. Again, this sensitivity should subside within a week.
  • It is normal to feel a depression or rough concavity where the temporary filling has been placed. It will wear away to a degree before the permanent restoration is placed. Avoiding chewing on the temporary filling will uphold its integrity.
  • If a small bubble or pimple appears on the gum tissue, it is acting like a pressure release valve for your tooth and should subside within a few days.
  • Remember to try to chew on the opposite side of the tooth worked on until you have it restored. Also avoid sticky or tacky foods so you do not dislodge the temporary filling.

Please call immediately if

  • The pimple or bubble does not subside or it is accompanied by swelling of the gum tissue or cheek. You can use a salt water rinse to help if a pimple presents on the gum. A large pinch of salt to 6 oz water, as hot as you can take it, is the right combination. If its helping, you cant use too much salt water!
  • Any swelling presents even without a bubble or pimple. You may need to be given antibiotics. If you are prescribed antibiotics, make sure to take them until they are gone.
  • Your tooth fractures.
  • The temporary filling feels loose, too high, or becomes dislodged.

Please call with any questions or concerns!