After Root Canal Therapy – Post-Op Care
After the Root Canal procedure seals the roots of the tooth, Dr. Lepore will cover the top of the tooth with a temporary filling. Soon after completing root canal therapy, you should schedule an appointment with your general dentist to obtain a permanent restoration (a dental crown). Postponing this final step could lead to your tooth becoming fractured or damaged, so be sure to get your final restoration as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, as you wait to see your general dentist, there are several steps you can take to ensure your rescued tooth heals well.
Caring for Treated Teeth
Refrain from chewing or eating using the side of your mouth that was treated. Until a dental crown is in place, your tooth remains weakened and could fracture if too much pressure is applied. Drink plenty of water and eat a soft diet for at least two days, avoiding the healing tooth.
Upon arriving home, you may want to take recommended medication for pain relief so you are prepared once the local anesthesia wears off. An over-the-counter medication like Advil, Motrin or Tylenol can be taken for the first 3-4 days after treatment (ask your doctor for correct medication). If you have been prescribed antibiotics, be sure to complete the full course as directed.
Smoking, alcohol, and strenuous exercise should also be avoided, as they can delay the healing process.
When Teeth Have Trouble Healing
Endodontic therapy has a 95% or greater success rate. With proper care, teeth that have undergone a root canal procedure can last just as long as your other natural teeth. However, there are some cases where even a well-cared for tooth may not heal properly after treatment.
Improper healing is usually signaled by prolonged pain, with or without swelling. Sometimes non-healing may only be discerned through an x-ray where changes such as bone reduction around the tooth’s roots can be seen.
Two things are at the source of most improper healing:
- Inflammation – Either from before or after treatment.
- Infection – If the original infection persists, if there is a crack in the tooth, or if there is leakage from the filling.
Time and the appropriate medication, such as NSAIDS (pain relief medication) or antibiotics, can usually resolve both inflammation and infection. However, if these symptoms persist, endodontic retreatment may be necessary.