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What To Expect After A Root Canal

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Many people associate root canal treatment with pain and discomfort. This shouldn’t be the case! While a root canal treatment can be uncomfortable for some, overall it should be painless and instead treats the pain of an existing infection.

What To Expect After A Root Canal

Root canal treatment is performed to treat infection in the centre of the tooth (the root canal system). Infection stems from bacteria that can result from any trauma to the tooth, tooth decay, or leaks in fillings. Tooth infections can be quite painful and as soon as you notice any symptoms you should have it treated as soon as possible before it spreads or worsens. However, some infections are not painful at all and can be identified as a pimple on your gums, swelling or by routine dental x-rays.

Root canal treatment involves removing all the bacteria and of course, the infection. During treatment, all of the infected pulp(nerve inside the tooth) will be removed from the root canal system. The tooth will then be filled in with a rubber base material and sealed with a filling or crown. This is performed under local anaesthetic and should be similar to having a filling done. If you need to have root canal treatment, don’t worry! It’s a safe, commonly performed procedure that has a high success rate.

After your root canal, you can expect some sensitivity as the local anaesthetic wears off. It’s important to avoid eating or drinking until all the numbness has subsided. There may be a small amount of pain or swelling around the treated area, but this should respond to over-the-counter remedies such as, Advil or Tylenol. If the pain or swelling becomes worse, you should contact your dentist immediately.

Often after your first root canal treatment you are given a temporary filling. It is very important to follow all of your dentist’s aftercare instructions, and to avoid biting into any hard food until your follow-up appointment where a stronger more permanent filling is placed and often a crown to prevent fracture of the tooth.

If you have any of the following symptoms, you should return to the dentist as soon as possible:

  • Severe pain or pressure.
  • Uneven bite.
  • Any allergic reaction (ie. redness, hives, itchiness).
  • Visible swelling inside or around mouth.
  • The return of any of your original symptoms.
  • Temporary crown or filling (if you have one) becoming loose or falling out.

In order to recover properly after your root canal treatment, and to avoid having another root canal, you should continue to maintain excellent oral hygiene, which means flossing daily, brushing at least twice a day, and visiting the dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. You should also avoid bad habits, like consuming sugary foods and drinks, and smoking. Following these aftercare instructions will help prevent the need for any more root canal treatments!


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Dr. Stacey Stein
A graduate from the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Toronto, Dr. Stacy Stein provides personalized care to each patient by explaining the risks and benefits of different treatment options in an honest way, and involves patients in their own care. With a focus on preventative, paediatrics, restorative, prosthodontics, and endodontics, she loves working with patients of all ages.