What to Expect After a Root Canal: A Guide to the Entire Process

What to Expect After a Root Canal: A Guide to the Entire Process

If you are getting a root canal any time soon and are wondering what to expect after a root canal, click here for a guide and detail on the entire process.

No one likes going to the dentist. But it becomes necessary when our teeth are sensitive and in serious pain due to decay, disease or damage — when the damage is no longer superficial and decay has penetrated the outer surface of your tooth.

A root canal is necessary to remove that infected material as well as the nerve to ease the pain. But there is no need to stress — they have a 95% rate of success and the fix can last a lifetime. Read on to learn what to expect after a root canal procedure and during one. 

The Anatomy of Your Tooth

To understand what’s going on inside your mouth and why it’s necessary that your dentist drill a hole into your teeth, knowing a little tooth anatomy is helpful. 

The inside of your tooth contains a wide, hollow space where the important contents of blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue, otherwise known as “pulp” reside. This wide, hollow space connects into narrower channels that are part of the root portion of your tooth and is actually very complex. 

For instance, your incisors have at least one canal, while your molars are multi-rooted and have many canals in each root in a complicated web. During your root canal treatment, every single one of these canals must be found and properly treated in order to have a successful procedure.

You can see now why the time it takes and how much a root canal procedure costs usually depends on what tooth your dentist is working on.

The Root Canal Procedure

First, your dental professional will take an x-ray of your teeth in order to determine the extent of the decay. In the past, root canals were an extremely painful procedure, but that’s no longer the case. He or she will apply a local anesthetic to numb the area to help you feel more comfortable during the procedure. 

After numbing the area, your endodontist or dentist drills an access hole into the top of the infected tooth, using special tools to remove the damaged pulp and nerve tissue. When this is finished, they’ll typically, though not always, end the procedure with a crown, filling or other tooth restoration procedure which will completely end the pain and fix any cosmetic issues. 

It’s a straight-forward procedure that costs approximately $350 to $520 depending on what tooth is being worked on — much less than having a tooth removed or replaced with a dental implant.

What to Expect After a Root Canal

After the procedure, the pain after a root canal is removed is no more painful than having a filling placed. The pain you will feel is due to natural tissue inflammation, and this can be easily relieved with pain relievers such as Advil, Motrin, or Aleve.

Over time, the mild pain will gradually recede until you don’t need to take any medication at all. If the pain doesn’t seem to be subsiding, you may need to contact your dentist or endodontist again for another root canal procedure, as there could be more infected material inside your tooth.

Some lifestyle changes are also recommended to manage the pain you may be feeling, such as temporarily quitting smoking and avoiding hard, crunchy foods.

Severe Pain After a Root Canal

The goal of a root canal procedure is to help mitigate the pain, even though most people think it’s extremely painful! While it isn’t common, you may experience severe pain after the procedure that doesn’t respond to over the counter medications. You’ll know you’re in severe pain because you won’t be able to continue with your normal life.

If this is the case, something may have gone wrong during the procedure. Be sure to contact your dentist immediately and schedule another appointment – they will be able to help you manage the pain and determine what, if anything, went wrong.

You may be feeling extreme pain because the treatment didn’t fully remove the bacteria from all of the canals in your tooth. Yet another possibility is an issue with the filling, or a small crack in your tooth may have developed. 

Your dentist may elect to retreat the area, and in some cases, the best option is simply to remove the tooth. Just know that there is always a way to treat the pain, and your dentist will go over each and every option so that you are completely comfortable and happy with your treatment choice.

Oral Health Tips

It’s also important to take care of your teeth to manage the pain and also to avoid another trip to the dentist for a root canal. Here are some simple tips you can utilize for great oral hygiene and managing the mild to medium pain you may be feeling:

  • Avoid eating hard foods, especially right after the root canal procedure.
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day in gentle, circular motions, making sure you also brush over your gums. Take special care around the root canal area.
  • Floss once a day to avoid tooth decay.
  • Reduce the amount of sugary foods and drinks you typically consume.
  • Schedule regular cleanings.

Wrapping It All Up

Hopefully this information has relieved you now that you know what to expect after a root canal if you’re about to get a root canal procedure done. In fact, the pain you suffer while hesitating to get the procedure done is most likely far worse than the procedure itself!

Don’t hesitate to contact us today for a free consultation or second opinion and get that tooth taken care of — soon you’ll be well on your way to a happy, healthy, and pain-free smile.