Root Canal Postoperative Instructions

Now that root canal therapy (RCT) has been completed on your tooth, there are several instructions that need to be carefully followed to help with the healing phase, and success of the treatment.

After RCT there may be some soreness, aching, and throbbing of the tooth and its surrounding tissues (like a bruise). This soreness may continue for several days to several weeks after treatment as it heals. Injection sites may be tender for several days. When RCT is needed, there are two infections present. One inside the tooth that the dentist can take care of with RCT, and another infection in the bone surrounding the outside of the tooth that the body will take care of over the next several weeks/months. The time frame typically depends on the severity of the infection, and it is different for everyone and every tooth. Typically the more symptomatic/infected the tooth is prior to RCT, the longer the healing process. If your doctor has prescribed you antibiotics, please finish the entire prescription even if you feel fine.

4-6 hours after the RCT is completed you may notice an aching/throbbing sensation at the tip of the roots, and surrounding tissues. This is normal, and should steadily get better over the next few days. If the symptoms worsen, or you have swelling present please call the office immediately for an evaluation.

It is very normal for teeth to feel “different” after RCT. “Different” is normal as long as you are not experiencing substantial discomfort. Your tooth may also be “shorter” than the neighboring teeth to allow for healing. Your final restoration will be tooth colored and restored to its ideal height. Please chew on the side opposite of where the RCT was done until your tooth is fully restored with a post/core, and crown. If your temporary has come out please return to the office to have it replaced.

RCT saves the tooth by treating the internal infection, but it is not the end of treatment for your tooth. Teeth tend to become brittle after RCT, and therefore need to be fully restored with a post and core, followed by a crown, or bridge. Your doctor will go over all necessary treatment prior to your RCT so you can make the best decision how to restore your tooth. If you do not have your post & core and crown done at the time as your RCT, please return to the office within 7-10 days. It’s VERY important to restore the tooth ASAP to help prevent re-infection, or fracturing the RCT tooth, and losing your investment.

Endodontists (RCT specialists) say some RCT teeth can take 6-12 months to heal, and may always feel “different.” This is normal, but if you have swelling, pain, or questions in general please call the office.

Your doctor will have prescribed you pain medication, or suggested a combination of ibuprofen 600-800 mg every 6 hours NOT to exceed 3200 mg per day, and Tylenol regular strength 2 caps every 4 hours NOT to exceed 2000 mg per day. Do not take both drugs at the same time to help minimize the chance of stomach upset, and only use for a maximum of 7 days. You will achieve optimum comfort if you alternate the meds prescribed for you taking one NSAID (ibuprofen/Ketoprofen), and 3 hours later taking the recommended pain med (Tylenol, hydrocodone, etc.). Continue alternating the medicine until you feel comfortable.

Bruxism (clenching/grinding) may delay healing after RCT. All teeth can be irritated, worn, and/or broken due to bruxism, especially RCT teeth. A tooth that is being compressed while sleeping may be tender while chewing, to touch, or ache unprovoked. Your doctor might recommend an appliance to wear over your teeth while sleeping to protect all of them, and to help with the healing phase after RCT.