How to Care for Your Teeth After a Root Canal
If you’ve recently had a root canal, you may be wondering how to care for your teeth as your gums and mouth heal. Read on for a few tips that may help you recover as quickly as possible and enjoy years of good oral health.
Root canal 101
Understanding what a root canal is and why you needed it may help you care for your teeth after the procedure. The root of your tooth connects the tooth to your gums and jaw. You may need a root canal due to tooth decay that has reached the pulp of your tooth, because you have an abscess -- a pocket of infection around the root of your tooth -- or because you’ve had an injury that damaged your tooth.
During the procedure, the dentist cleans out the infected area and puts in a special type of filling to seal the canal. Since the tooth can become brittle without the pulp, you’ll probably need a follow-up visit to have a protective crown placed over the tooth.
What to expect immediately after a root canal
Although a root canal ultimately means less pain, in the immediate aftermath of the procedure, you’ll likely feel some tenderness. Your jaw may also be sore from having had your mouth open for a longer-than-normal amount of time.
Typically, the pain following a root canal is treated successfully with over-the-counter medications, but in some instances your dentist may prescribe a stronger medication.
If you’re waiting on another procedure, such as a filling or crown, you may want to avoid chewing with the tooth being repaired. Your dentist instructs you as to whether or not this applies to your situation.
Oral hygiene after a root canal
Continuing to practice good oral hygiene after a root canal is critically important. Brush twice daily, floss once a day, and use antiseptic mouthwash regularly to maintain the health of your teeth.
Once your root canal and any other procedures are completed, you’ll have a follow-up visit with your dentist to make sure that everything has healed as it should. Then you should resume regular appointments for cleanings and checkups.
A good oral hygiene routine will help you maintain healthy teeth and gums for years into the future.
Possible root canal complications to watch for
Most root canals -- 95% -- are successful, but there are some possible complications to be aware of.
If your tooth has more roots than the dentist expects, one may remain untreated. This would leave some infection in your tooth, and you’d still experience pain. If you still have the same symptoms after a root canal as you had before, discuss it with your dentist.
In some cases, the sealant used in a root canal can break down over time, which allows bacteria to reach the inside of your tooth. Regular checkups with your dentist is the best way to avoid this particular complication.
In rare instances, there’s a crack in the root of the tooth that goes unseen. If you have unusual symptoms, such as pain continuing after a few days, be sure to tell your dentist.
The vast majority of root canals are routine, and most patients return to their normal activities the next day.
Dr. Saeghi has performed many root canals with a very high rate of success. Discuss any concerns about caring for your teeth following your procedure with her. She provides you with thorough aftercare instructions, and gladly answers any questions you may have.