After a Root Canal: 4 Things You Need to Know

Posted on: 3 January 2018

A root canal can be necessary to head off a larger problem further along the line. It involves the removal of the dental pulp, followed by reinforcement of the tooth (generally with a dental crown).The thought of having an actual nerve removed might sound somewhat daunting, but it's a very straightforward procedure. It can be even more straightforward if you know how to take care of the site in the days following the procedure.

1. Only the First Step

It's important to remember that the root canal therapy is not the end of the process for saving your tooth. Removal of the dental pulp (the nerve inside the tooth) can be vital when it comes to preventing further degradation (and the associated discomfort) but it's not as though the tooth can then be left as is. Dental crowns are usually the next step, essentially encasing the tooth in a specially fabricated shell. This gives the tooth some much-needed extra strength. Medicated gauze might be packed into the tooth during the interim, but this is not a permanent solution.

2. Discomfort

Once the root canal has been performed, there will be some necessary healing time before any kind of crown can be fitted. This healing time will vary from patient to patient, and some discomfort might be felt immediately after the procedure. You can generally treat this discomfort with ibuprofen (helpful for its anti-inflammatory properties) or any other over the counter pain relief. If the discomfort persists, worsens, or is accompanied by excessive swelling or bleeding, contact your dentist immediately.

3. Sensitivity

While the actual nerve will have been removed from the tooth, there can still be a period of acclimatization as the site recovers. While the dental pulp is no longer capable of causing discomfort, there will be newly exposed tissue inside the tooth which might cause you to experience sensitivity while eating and drinking. There can be some trial and error involved, but you might experience sensitivity while enjoying food or drinks of extreme temperatures (such as a hot cup of coffee or some ice cream) or food that is overly spicy. This sensitivity should be brief, and in any event it will come to an end when the dental crown is fitted.

4. Oral Hygiene

There can also be some sensitivity when cleaning the affected part of your mouth. Your traditional mouthwash might suddenly seem extremely potent, and you may wish to replace it with a salt water rinse until your mouth has recovered.

A root canal is a fairly minor dental procedure, and while you need to take steps to ensure your oral health following a root canal, the natural result of the newly-repaired tooth is certainly worth the effort.