The speed of your recovery following a root canal is dictated by how well you prepare and what you do after it is over. Bad habits, such as poor dental hygiene, can slow your recovery and even result in infection. To ensure that your recovery is on track, here are some tips on what you can do before and after a root canal.
Prior to undergoing the root canal, discuss taking an antibiotic with your dentist. He or she can prescribe one to help lower the risk of an infection occurring. The dentist might recommend starting the antibiotic before the procedure as an added measure of precaution.
You also need to discuss the medications and any herbal supplements that you are currently taking with the dentist. Some medications can interfere with the anesthesia and antibiotic that the dentist prescribes and uses. Your dentist might recommend that you stop taking the medication a few days before the procedure to avoid slowing your recovery or experiencing a negative reaction.
Following the procedure, it is possible that your gums and lips will feel numb for several hours. To help facilitate healing and alleviate the pain, you can:
- Use over-the-counter pain relievers. The numbing medication that your dentist gave you before the root canal will wear off and you could experience mild to moderate pain. Aspirin or ibuprofen can help. If you have had dental procedures in the past and the over-the-counter pain relievers were not very effective, your dentist might be willing to prescribe a prescription strength pain reliever.
- Avoid putting pressure on the crown. If possible, do not chew or bite on the side with the crown.
- Contact the dentist if the crown comes off. Root canals often take more than one appointment to complete. A temporary crown is often used until a permanent one is placed. If the crown comes off, contact the emergency dentist immediately. The opening left from the crown is vulnerable to harmful bacteria and an infection could result and setback your recovery.
- Maintain good hygiene to prevent infection. Follow your dentist's recommendations for how often you should be brushing and flossing. You can also ask for a prescription strength mouthwash to help ensure that harmful bacteria are kept to a minimum.
Consult with your dentist to determine if there are other steps you can take before and after the procedure to ensure a speedy recovery and avoid pain.