Patients who are referred to our practice for a root canal treatment usually have a number of questions about the procedure. Many of these questions center around the pain involved, but other common questions are about the logistics. How long does a root canal procedure take? What is the recovery like? Read on to find out the answers.
What happens during a root canal?
During a root canal treatment, an opening is made in the biting surface of your tooth, which allows us to access the pulp chamber and root canals. The infected or inflamed pulp is removed, then the inside of the tooth is disinfected and the root canals are shaped. A biocompatible material is used to seal the inside of your tooth to prevent reinfection of the root canals. Often a permanent filling can be placed in the biting surface of the tooth at this time. If a temporary restoration was placed, it is important to return to your dentist to restore your tooth with a dental filling or crown.
How long does a root canal take?
The length of time needed for your root canal depends on the complexity of your case. You may need one to two appointments; these appointments can last up to 90 minutes. You’ll also need to factor in the time spent at your general dentist’s office for your restoration.
What is recovery from root canal treatment like?
Recovery from a root canal treatment is much easier than what you might have experienced after having a tooth extracted or oral surgeries. Root canal treatment is very much like a filling. There are no sutures or incisions. The treated area can be brushed and flossed normally. You are likely to notice some inflammation and sensitivity, but this usually lasts only a few days. Any discomfort can be treated with over-the-counter pain medications and cold compresses to relieve swelling.
Can I brush my teeth after a root canal?
Yes, you should brush and floss after your root canal. If you’re experiencing some soreness around the treated tooth, simply brush carefully there.
What can I eat after a root canal?
We recommend eating soft foods after your root canal, as the treated tooth will be sore for a few days. Once this soreness subsides, you can begin to reintroduce hard and chewy foods back into your diet, taking care not to chew with the treated tooth until your permanent restoration is in place.
It’s also important to note that you should avoid eating at all until your local anesthetic wears off—this prevents you from biting and injuring your cheek or other soft tissues in the mouth while they’re numb.
Can I drive myself home after a root canal?
Yes, if you’ve only had local anesthesia for your root canal, you will be able to drive yourself home after the procedure.
Is there anything I shouldn’t do after a root canal treatment?
Other than eating a soft food diet, there are few restrictions required after root canal treatment. In fact, you can return to work or school after your procedure if you wish. Be careful when eating, brushing, and flossing, and follow any other instructions you’re given.