7 Tips to Make Your Root Canal Recovery Easier
A root canal may be the most misunderstood dental procedure: despite the fact that over 15 million are performed each year, just hearing the phrase makes some patients nervous. But root canal treatment is often compared to having a routine filling done, except that it takes longer and requires removal of more tooth structure and tissue.
There are also a few steps you can take to help your root canal recovery go as smoothly as possible. If you have a root canal appointment scheduled, follow these seven tips for a quicker recovery.
1. Try to Get Some Rest
Although it may be challenging if you're pain before the procedure, try to get some sleep if you can the night before your appointment. It will boost your immune system and help your body fight off any infection faster.
If sleeping has proved impossible, make sure you get plenty of rest after your root canal. Take a personal day or two so you can catch up on missed sleep and allow your body to heal without any added stress. Try to have family members give you a quiet space so you can relax and focus on feeling better.
Sleep or nap with an additional pillow under your head to help keep it elevated. This can help avoid putting added pressure on your mouth, which may still be swollen for a day or two after root canal treatment.
2. Eat a Balanced Diet
Getting nutrients into your body before and after a root canal is essential to help speed up the healing process. Even if you don't feel like eating because of an infection, try to eat a healthy meal so your blood sugar will at least be regulated before the procedure.
It's also a good idea to stock up on soft and liquid foods before your appointment that will make eating more comfortable during your recovery. Soups, protein drinks, smoothies, scrambled eggs, pureed fruits and vegetables, and yogurt are all good choices while your mouth heals. You may want to wait until the numbness from the anesthetic completely wears off before attempting to eat so you don't accidentally bite your tongue or the inside of your cheek.
Take care when chewing more solid foods after your root canal. You may be advised to chew on the opposite side of your mouth so you don't put any pressure on the tooth that received the treatment.
3. Refrain From Smoking and Alcohol
Avoid smoking or using any nicotine products in the days leading up to your appointment and following the treatment. Smoking and nicotine products can affect your circulation, making it harder for your mouth to heal after a root canal. Proper blood flow is important to help your body bounce back, especially if you had an infection.
Quitting cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and other nicotine-based products will also cut your risk of developing oral cancer.
Although many people have a drink to help them deal with pain, drinking alcohol can irritate your mouth tissues and make it harder for the swelling to go away. It's best to drink plain water during your recovery to help you stay hydrated.
4. Take Pain Medicine and Prescriptions as Directed
Taking an over-the-counter painkiller can help ease any lingering discomfort after a root canal. An ibuprofen-based pain reliever can help reduce swelling and inflammation.
Your dentist or endodontist may also prescribe you pain medicine as well as an antibiotic to help fight the infection. Be sure to take any prescribed medicines as directed. You may be required to take the antibiotic with food to help avoid a queasy stomach.
5. Use a Cold Compress
A cold compress or a bag of ice or frozen peas wrapped in a towel can help relieve swelling and pain when pressed against your mouth. Use it for 10-15 minutes at a time. You may also find that eating cold foods such as ice cream helps the sore area feel better.
At the same time, you may want to steer clear of very hot foods and beverages. Heat causes inflammation, which can keep the swelling active and make it harder for the treated tooth to recover.
Also, any foods that require your mouth to make sucking motions such as lollipops and frozen fruit bars may make it tougher for the area to heal. Refrain from them until the area has completely recovered.
6. Avoid Strenuous Activity
Having a root canal is one good excuse for not visiting the gym for a few days. You should avoid exercise and other strenuous activity until the tooth has healed. While good blood flow is needed for healing, raising your heart rate can increase your blood pressure and inadvertently make the swelling worse.
7. Don't Worry if You Still Have Pain
It takes time for an infection in your mouth to subside, so don't panic if you're still feeling a dull ache in the treated tooth. Discomfort and sensitivity can last for one or two weeks following a root canal. You may also have swelling for a few days until the infection subsides.
Your dentist will schedule a follow-up appointment with you to ensure that everything has healed completely. You should also feel free to reach out to them with any questions or concerns you may about what to expect during the procedure and your recovery.
Follow These Tips for Faster Root Canal Recovery
Keep these tips in mind for a quicker root canal recovery. Your dentist will also send you home with any other special instructions you should follow. Once your root canal is in your rear-view mirror and your tooth has completely healed, you'll be relieved and glad you had it done!
Think you may need a root canal? Contact us for an appointment. We specialize in root canal treatment and sedation dentistry so that every patient feels comfortable during the procedure.