Pain After Root Canal: Root Canal Recovery Tips & When to Seek Help

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pain after root canal

If you’re having a root canal, whether due to a cracked tooth or a deep cavity, you’ll want to get back to normal as soon as possible. Here are our best root canal recovery tips to help reduce pain and speed up healing, plus, guidance on when to seek help.

Treat your Mouth with Care

After your root canal, the treated tooth and surrounding area will be sensitive for a while, so be extra gentle with your mouth. Wait until the numbness in your mouth wears off before attempting to eat, so you won’t accidentally bite your cheek or tongue. Continue to brush and floss daily as you normally would to keep the area clean—but be careful flossing around the treated tooth and avoid pulling the floss upward near the crown. And keep your head elevated when you’re sleeping to avoid irritation.

Manage any Pain or Swelling 

As the anesthetic used to numb your mouth during the root canal begins to wear off, you may start to feel some mild pain and swelling.

But is throbbing pain after a root canal normal? And how long does pain last after a root canal? Some discomfort and sensitivity is perfectly normal and can be expected to last for a few days after the procedure. But, of course, there are several ways to manage the pain and keep it to a minimum while you heal. 

Over-the-counter pain medications are often all that is needed to relieve your symptoms, however, in some cases, you may be prescribed narcotic medication or prescription-strength ibuprofen as well. For tender gums, rinsing with warm salt water can also be helpful. And to reduce any swelling, we recommend placing a cold compress or ice pack on your cheek.

Eat the right foods 

A key element of root canal after care is eating foods that won’t damage your restoration. That means sticking to soft foods in the hours after your procedure and the following days. Here are a few of the foods the American Dental Association recommends for patients recovering from dental treatment: 

  • Oatmeal or cream of wheat
  • Lukewarm vegetable soup (pureed or containing soft vegetables)
  • Meatloaf
  • Scrambled eggs or an omelet
  • Mashed bananas
  • Avocado
  • Tofu
  • Pasta or noodles

On the flip side, be sure to avoid sticky or hard foods after your root canal, which can crack the restoration or dislodge a temporary crown. In addition, steer clear of overly hot foods, which can trigger sensitivity. Some foods to avoid include: 

  • Taffy, gum, and candy
  • Hard candies
  • Ice cubes
  • Hot soup
  • Overly hot or cold drinks

Get Plenty of Rest

Getting adequate rest is essential for a speedy recovery period. Get as much sleep as possible, take it easy, and avoid putting too much strain on your body. This includes taking some time off from exercise, which can cause bleeding and make you feel achy.

When to Seek Help

After you’ve had a root canal, the treated tooth may feel slightly different than your other teeth for some time. This is normal. However, please contact us immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Severe pressure or pain after root canal lasting several days
  • Visible swelling inside or outside the mouth
  • An allergic reaction to medication
  • Your bite feels uneven
  • Your temporary crown or filling, if one was placed, comes out
  • A return of the symptoms you experienced prior to the root canal

If you need a root canal treatment to restore your oral health, we hope these tips help illustrate what the recovery process is like (and make it a bit less intimidating too!). Please feel free to contact us with any questions about the root canal procedure, after care, and recovery period.

About The Author

Dr. David Giaquinto, DDS

Dentist at Cottonwood Dental

Dentistry is a profession that requires many layers of knowledge and training. My background encompasses three post-grad degrees along with a command of aesthetics and precision. Both of those are necessary when creating the great results that we promise our patients. Being a graduate of the University of New Mexico and Marquette University School of Dentistry has provided me with a launching point for my practice at Cottonwood Dental. My ongoing research… [Read full bio]

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