Nobody looks forward to a root canal. However, with the right preparations, you can make your procedure and recovery go as smoothly as possible. Taking the right precautions can also prevent further tooth damage and pain.
A reputable root canal dentist will tell you what you should do after your procedure for the best results. Just in case, here are some quick dos and don’ts to help you prepare for your root canal.
Don’t Stress About the Treatment
Root canals are unpleasant, but they are also a very common dental procedure that millions of people have already gone through. Informing yourself about the procedure can help you stay calm during and afterward.
A root canal is a simple procedure that removes decay that has penetrated the pulp, or inner layer of the tooth which contains nerves, blood vessels, and tissue. Once a cavity reaches the pulp, it can become quite uncomfortable so schedule in root canal as soon as you can.
For many people, the infection is more painful than the procedure itself. Root canals are done under local anaesthesia so you will not feel anything during the procedure. They are also fairly short so you can expect to leave your root canal dentist’s office after only an hour and a half.
Take Pain Medication
While you won’t feel anything during the procedure, once your anaesthetic wears off, you will start to feel pain. Your root canal dentist might write you a prescription for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or you can get over-the-counter ibuprofen.
You can start taking your pain medication the day of the procedure as soon as you feel the anaesthetic wearing off. Continue taking painkillers following your dentist’s instructions.
Avoid Using That Side of the Mouth
Eating and drinking using the tooth that just had the root canal will be difficult due to the pain. It could also cause lasting damage because bacteria from eating could infect the tooth, or you could crack the tooth if you bite down too hard.
For the first few hours after your procedure, avoid eating and drinking altogether. Your mouth will be numb from the local anaesthetic, so you won’t be able to control your chewing as much and could damage your tooth without knowing it. For the first few days after your root canal, rely on softer foods and chew with the other side of your mouth.
You should also take special care when brushing that side of the mouth, as vigorous brushing could also damage your tooth.
Don’t Neglect Follow-up Visits
Your dental work is not over once you are sent home from your root canal. Your dentist probably scheduled at least one follow-up visit. Don’t skip that visit, even if you feel as if you are recovering smoothly.
The dentist can catch any problems in your recovery that you may have missed. You may also need follow-up work on the root canal. Most dentists only add a temporary filling after the procedure and install a permanent crown. The damage deep infections cause can’t go away after just one procedure, so you may also need additional cleaning and repairs.
Call Your Dentist If You Notice Complications
Although root canals are simple procedures, things can still go wrong. Sometimes, this happens if you do not follow the right aftercare procedures and wind up cracking the tooth through overuse. Sometimes, you’re just unlucky.
If you notice that the tooth cracked or that swelling and pain is getting worse after a few days instead of going away, call your dentist immediately. The sooner you alert your dentist to the problem, the higher the chance that it can be rectified.
If you are feeling anxious about an upcoming root canal, informing yourself about the procedure and aftercare can help you cope with that anxiety. Plenty of people go through root canals all the time and emerge with healthy teeth. Just make sure to take your painkillers as directed, avoid using the sick tooth, and attend all of your follow-up visits.
If anything goes wrong, your root canal dentist will be on call to help you. With a trusted dentist, you will be in good hands before, during, and after your procedure.