Root canals are performed on teeth that have nerve damage and are starting to decay. It can help save your natural teeth and prevent future issues. Root canals may be common procedures in today’s dentistry world, but what can you expect from the procedure? How much root canal recovery time should you expect? And is it painful? Read on to find out everything you need to know about recovering from a root canal.

Root Canal Recovery Time

Procedures for root canal

With a standard root canal, the dentist removes infected tissues with treatment fluids and files. Your root canal system is then disinfected and a temporary material is inserted into the system. This is typically what happens at the first treatment appointment. There is generally a second treatment appointment, in which the dentist removes the temporary material. The dentist then replaces it with a permanent option.

This means that there is no permanent filling in-place during the time in-between appointments. Your dental office will try to schedule these appointments within a week of each other, to less the chance of something happening to the temporary filling.

After the second appointment and you have received your permanent solution, the recovery time will vary for each person. The most severe symptoms will usually be experienced within the first few days, but some mild symptoms could last days or even weeks. The severity of symptoms during the recovery time can also be determined by how extensive the dental work was.

Most people may want to spend the day of the procedure, as well as the day-after the procedure resting. This is the timeframe in which you should expect to feel most-uncomfortable. After the first 24-48 hours, you should be able to resume your normal activities.

Side-Effects and Symptoms that Follow a Root Canal

Your root canal recovery time will include some side-effects from the procedure. In-between your first and second visits, you should expect to feel some mild discomfort or sensitivity. After you’ve had the permanent solution implanted, you should expect the following:

  • Pain/discomfort. Once the anesthesia wears off and your root canal recovery time begins, you should expect to feel some pain and discomfort. With over-the-counter medications, the discomfort should be mild. Pain most generally resolves in a few days.
  • Swelling/inflammation. As you’ve just had a procedure done, your mouth and affected area will be swollen and inflamed. Swelling and discomfort go hand-in-hand, and the two should start to diminish within the first few days.
  • Sensitivity. Your mouth may feel sensitive to cold/heat, feel tender, and be sensitive to eating; especially for the first few days following the root canal. As swelling and pain decreases and your mouth heals, this feeling should start to diminish. Some people report feeling increased sensitivity and tenderness for up to 4 weeks following, however.

Sick woman having a tooth ache

How to Care for Yourself During Your Root Canal Recovery Time

Although your medical team will provide you with personal instructions following the procedure, there a few things you need to do to ensure you heal properly and protect your health.

  1. Take your medication. If your dentist prescribes you with medicine, be sure to take it as needed. You will typically be given a prescription for antibiotics to take for up to 10 days. These antibiotics ensure that your mouth does not suffer from any further or additional infections while you heal.
  2. Track your pain. The dentist may prescribe a more powerful medicine, such as a painkiller, for the first few days depending on the extent of the work performed. After a day or two, the pain can usually be managed by over-the-counter pain-relievers. Track your levels of pain, including how often you need to take the medicine and how long you feel pain for.
  3. Always keep it clean. To avoid infection and other issues, be sure to keep your teeth and gums clean. Brush and floss regularly, and gently rinse your mouth out each time.
  4. Be gentle. You’ll want to make sure you take it easy on your teeth, especially for the first few days following your procedure. Do not chew on that side of your mouth during this time, if you can. Try not to put too much pressure on it be clenching or grinding. If you have an issue with either of these, you can try wearing a mouth-guard. Also, try to avoid extra hard, chewy, or crunchy foods that will irritate the area.

woman brushing teeth

Possible Complications

While everyone’s personal experiences are different, your dental team will want you to know the possible complications from the procedure and symptoms you should be looking out for. These are the types of signs that you’ll want to alert your dental team or medical-care team about right away.

  • Pain. You may be in pain for a few days following the procedure, but if your pain is ever excruciating or continues for more than a week, let your dentist know right away. You may have developed an infection or may need an additional step in the procedure to calm down inflamed teeth.
  • Sensitivity. It’s normal to feel discomfort and sensitivity for the days following your procedure. If you are still feeling swollen, sensitive to heat/cold, or feel as though you cannot eat more than 7 days after the procedure, discuss the issue with your dentist right away. Infections are not common, but possible, and can cause a wide array of complications.
  • Blocked canal. Sometimes during the root canal procedure, a complication occurs in which the dentist discovers your canal is blocked. This makes it difficult to treat the root canal system and may result in necessary endodontic surgery to seal the canal.

Summing Up

Root canals can seem intimidating, but they are common-placed procedures. With minimal root canal recovery time necessary, you can have your teeth back to their normal, healthy selves in no-time at all. As with all procedures, please follow the advice of your healthcare team and consult your medical team with any questions, concerns, or complications.

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