Getting a root canal is a big dental procedure that can leave your jaw sore for days. But the good news is that once a root canal is complete, it should relieve pain, and reduce the risk of infection from a decaying tooth. It’s vital to take this procedure seriously so that you don’t cause more problems after the fact. Here are some important tips to help you recover and heal quickly.
Take Good Care of Your Teeth
It’s still vital to take good care of your teeth. Getting a root canal doesn’t exempt you from good oral hygiene practices. Brush and floss regularly, as well as use mouthwash if you want extra protection against bacteria in your mouth. Use a gentle, soft bristled brush soon after your procedure. There is also a tooth extraction and implant timeline that can help you understand your dental office practices and how long recovery should take based on the tools they use. In the meantime, go easy on your teeth.
Wait Until Your Mouth Stops Being Numb to Eat
It’s important to avoid eating anything until your mouth stops being numb. This helps you reduce the risk of choking or harm by trying to swallow foods without full sensation. Everyone processes numbing agents out at different rates, so some people could be good in as little as a few hours after the procedure, while others might need to wait several hours or until the next day.
Do Not Chew on the Affected Side for 24 Hours
It’s important to not chew on the affected side for 24 hours following your treatment. This will help ensure that you don’t damage or dislodge any of the healing tissue in your mouth, which can cause infection and future problems.
Gargle With Warm Salt Water
Saltwater is not only antimicrobial, but it also acts as a pain reliever. By gently gargling and swishing your mouth with warm salt water after a root canal, you can greatly reduce inflammation and keep your mouth from getting infected. This helps alleviate potential infection in gums and other parts of your mouth.
Take Medication as Prescribed
If your dentist prescribed medication, take it as needed and as prescribed. Do not take more than the recommended dosage, and do not stop taking the medication without consulting your dentist. If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. Some dentists recommend an antibiotic alongside pain meds to handle issues that can arise after dental work.
Eat Soft Foods
Soon after a root canal, it’s best to avoid hard foods. Hard foods, such as nuts and seeds, can be difficult to chew and they may cause additional pain in your mouth. Most people love to eat soft comfort foods. Ice cream, pudding, and applesauce are great options as well as softer meat like something slow-cooked and cut into small pieces. Hot drinks and foods should be avoided temporarily. Soft foods help reduce swelling in your jaw, helping you to recover more quickly from your root canal.
Not only can alcohol interfere with the medications that you may take for pain, but it can also irritate the nerves in your mouth, increase swelling and bleeding, interfere with the healing process, and make you tired and less able to care for yourself. You should avoid alcohol until your root canal is fully healed.
Do Not Smoke
Smoking can cause damage to the bone and gum tissue that surrounds your teeth. This may lead to an infection or dry socket, which is when a blood clot dissolves too early and leaves an exposed nerve in its place. Smoking also increases your risk of developing gum disease. While quitting smoking for good is best for your overall health, finding a way to quit right before your root canal and until it heals is also helpful in the short term.
Use Ice Packs on Your Face and Jaw for Pain Relief
Ice packs can help reduce swelling, which will make your mouth feel better. Use an ice pack at least every two hours for 20 minutes at a time. Use a cloth between the ice pack and your skin. This will prevent any damage to sensitive tissues in your mouth and jaw area during recovery from a root canal.