Root canals sound scarier than they are. In reality, there should be very little pain after the procedure and your mouth and gums will feel normal within a week or two at most. However, if you don't take good care of yourself, that may not be the case.
To make sure you're back to normal as quickly as possible after your root canal, follow these eight tips for speeding up recovery.
1. Keep your head elevated and don't eat right away
Straight after your procedure's finished, you may have some swelling and pain around your mouth. To keep this under control and minimise the pain, try to keep your head elevated and avoid lying down as much as possible. It's also worth adding another pillow so that your head's a little elevated while you sleep for the first few days. Additional to this, make sure you don't eat at all until the numbness goes away.
2. Take pain medication
When the anesthetic from the procedure wears off, you may feel some pain and discomfort in your jaws and gum. Make your recovery as comfortable as possible by taking over the counter anti-inflammatory pain medication like ibuprofen (or whatever your dentist prescribes) before that happens. What's more, if your dentist prescribes you any antibiotics, make sure you take the course as directed until they're all gone.
3. Gargle warm salt water
One of the biggest risks after root canal is that the gum surrounding your tooth becomes infected. This can cause considerable pain, so it's obviously best avoided. Regularly gargling with warm, slightly salty water will help keep your mouth clean and ward off infection so that you can continue your recovery.
You'll be back up and running in no time after your root canal if you take care of yourself.
4. Eat ice cream and use a cold compress
After your root canal you're encouraged to eat ice cream (yes, you read that right). The cold helps to keep down inflammation and ward off infection which can help make your recovery quicker. If ice cream's not your thing, it's a good idea to use a cold compress for 10-15 minutes a few times a day for the first few days following the procedure.
5. Avoid anything that could cause inflammation
You may be able to get stuck into a bowl of ice cream after your root canal but for the first few days you should abstain from hot beverages, alcohol, smoking, drinking from straws, hard food, or eating foods that you have to suck (like lollipops and toffees). These foods and drinks are known to inflame the gums and could cause pain and swelling, slowing your recovery.
6. Avoid strenuous activity for a couple days
Put your feet up and relax because after your root canal procedure you should avoid strenuous physical activity for at least 48 hours. That means no running, hiking, playing sports or physical labour.
7. Know what to expect
If you don't know what to expect after your root canal you may worry more than you need to. You shouldn't panic if you have sensitivity when biting, sensitivity to hot and cold, a dull persistent toothache and rough areas around the tooth. Usually these symptoms will last less than a week or two.
8. Call your dentist if you're worried
In the unlikely event that your symptoms are more severe than those described above, or if they won't go away, it's worth giving your dental surgeon a call to discuss, particularly if you experience excessive bleeding, swelling, severe pain, fever, or reaction to any medication. The symptoms above are extremely rare and if you take care of yourself properly your recovery will almost certainly be quick and painless.
For more information about root canals call 04 978 4964 or book an appointment online.