The pain of a root canal can be quite intense, but taking care of your teeth and gums during the recovery period can make it easier to bear. If you’re wondering how long does a root canal hurt after, here are 10 tips that can help you with your root canal recovery time and make sure your tooth feels as good as new again in no time.
1) Become an expert
Root canals are perhaps one of dental treatments most feared by patients. The word itself conjures up images of some invasive, torturous procedure that can’t be survived; root canal recovery time seems to be measured in weeks. Fortunately, what once was one of dentistry’s most dreaded procedures has been greatly reduced in pain, time and expense over time with modern technology and techniques. Root canal recovery is an uncomfortable process but following a few simple tips may help make it tolerable.
2) Dental Planning
A root canal is an invasive procedure that requires anesthesia. The first thing to do before you get started is make sure you’re mentally prepared. You don’t want to freak out and refuse treatment once you’re in front of your dentist! If you’re planning on scheduling root canal work, give yourself plenty of time (if possible, schedule it a month or so away from your vacation), because there are many things that can affect root canal recovery time, such as: stress levels, dietary habits, exercise routines and overall health. Being relaxed and healthy will help ensure quicker recovery times. Don’t have a full mouth of teeth? You may be able to receive sedation for other dental work during your root canal appointment as well!
3) Use Plenty of Anesthesia
Needles and pain aren’t going to keep you from feeling, so it’s important that your dentist anesthetizes your tooth before starting. In order to avoid root canal surgery, your dentist will likely start with either local anesthesia or intravenous sedation (depending on how invasive your procedure is). Don’t worry—most people are shocked to learn that most root canals don’t actually hurt. If you do experience some sensitivity in or around your tooth after the procedure, however, ask your dentist if you can use over-the-counter ibuprofen or acetaminophen (Tylenol) to manage any lingering pain and discomfort.
4) Use the Correct Technique
If you’re like most people, you might be reluctant to go through with root canal therapy simply because of all of those horror stories about tooth pain. While there are some people who experience a lot of discomfort during and after treatment, there are steps you can take to minimize your root canal recovery time. The biggest mistake is failing to complete all procedures at once. More often than not, that leads to another trip back into your dentist’s chair—and even more pain. To prevent re-infection and keep your mouth healthy, we recommend having all remaining dental work completed on your first visit so that no additional procedures are necessary.
5) Maintain Good Posture
Good posture is incredibly important to reduce stress on your lower back, neck and shoulders. Slouching can actually cause pain and even increase your risk of degenerative conditions. Even if you feel like it’s not a big deal, over time slouching will catch up with you – so be sure to sit upright in your chair with good posture whenever possible. If you work in an office, keep your computer at eye level and use a headset instead of cradling a phone between your head and shoulder.
6) Avoid Smoking and Drinking Alcohol
It might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t realize that smoking and drinking too much alcohol can seriously affect your oral health. Smoking can wreak havoc on your teeth by causing periodontal disease, which can lead to tooth loss over time. Not only that, but it also gives rise to tumors in your mouth—even if you brush and floss regularly! Alcohol consumption is one of the main culprits behind gum disease. In fact, studies have shown that alcohol consumption leads to inflammation and destruction of gums. Both these things can be hard to reverse once they set in; so stop smoking and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol as soon as possible!
7) Drink Water, Sleep Well, Exercise
Any dentist will tell you that regular dental hygiene is one of your best weapons against avoiding painful root canals. Besides general dental care, you should also try to make time for some additional health measures like staying hydrated, eating well and getting plenty of sleep. And exercise—even if it’s only brisk walking been shown to have numerous physical and mental benefits, from helping with weight loss to reducing stress. These steps aren’t just good for keeping your mouth healthy; they can work wonders on overall health as well. If you start incorporating these into your daily routine, it will be easier to avoid that ow feeling after brushing or flossing. And then you won’t need to rely on someone else’s cantilever bridge dental work!
8) Use Complementary Therapies
Studies have shown that complementary therapies can provide pain relief during root canal therapy. Try aromatherapy (such as lavender) or meditate to help you focus on your breathing and take your mind off of any discomfort that might be coming up. You can also request nitrous oxide—also known as laughing gas—if available, which will make treatment go more quickly without causing you pain. You’ll also want to eat and drink plenty of water, because dehydration increases your risk of experiencing pain during treatment.
9) Use Antibiotics, Painkillers, and Cold Packs if Needed
Infection or oral analgesics to ease discomfort. Use cold packs to soothe inflammation and reduce swelling. If these treatments don’t help and you find yourself in serious discomfort, contact your dentist immediately. It could be due to periapical periodontitis—an infection that could lead to systemic illness if left untreated—or it might simply mean that you have developed sensitivity as a result of undergoing endodontic treatment.
10) Follow Up with Your Dentist
It’s natural to feel anxious about what you think is going to be a painful procedure. Just remember that if you follow up with your dentist beforehand. Chances are you’ll have fewer issues than someone who goes in blindly. Have questions about how much it will hurt? Get clear answers ahead of time and put your worries at ease. Plus, it never hurts to have someone on your side to advocate on your behalf when things get tough. If possible, schedule an appointment with one of their least busy staff members. So they can give you their full attention while taking care of you. In some cases, dentists may even be able to administer sedation or prescribe anti-anxiety drugs prior to your root canal procedure.