Table of contents
1 What do I need to consider after root canal treatment?
Rules of thumb for eating after root canal treatment You should avoid physical stress as much as possible Good dental hygiene is essential Smoking is a no-go in the first 24 hours! Pain after root canal treatment Summary of the aftercare of root canal treatment
2 When and why do you have root canal treatment?
3 What is root canal treatment and who carries it out?
4 What is done during root canal treatment?

Root canal treatment is a remarkable milestone in dentistry. It puts an end to a chronically painful tooth! Root canal treatment is a surgical procedure. Therefore, you should pay attention to your food, hygiene and daily routine during the aftercare of a root canal treatment!

What do I need to consider after root canal treatment?

After your treatment, it is important that you look after your repaired tooth and take good care of your teeth in general. These tips will help you to keep your mouth, teeth and gums healthy after root canal treatment.

Rules of thumb for eating after root canal treatment

Immediately after the operation

Since the filling has not yet hardened and the treated area is probably still partially anesthetized, you should refrain from eating for a few hours.

The first 24 hours after the operation

Avoid consuming hot drinks or hot food. If your sensitivity to heat is inhibited due to a still active anesthetic, you may burn yourself.

The first 3 days after the operation

  • Avoid crunchy or sticky foods such as raw apples, carrots, corn on the cob, chewing gum or chewy bread. These can loosen your temporary filling.
  • No alcohol or highly blood-thinning foods, as well as spicy foods. These include in particular: ginger, garlic and peppers. They can increase bleeding and therefore slow down the healing process.
  • No dairy products: Products containing milk can promote the growth of various bacteria in the mouth.

You should avoid physical stress as much as possible

Root canal treatment is a surgical procedure. You should therefore take it easy after the procedure. It is best to ask your dentist when you can resume your normal daily routine. Exercising too soon could cause your tooth or gums to start bleeding again.1

Good dental hygiene is essential

Although the tooth is medically "dead" and no longer causes pain, you should still take good care of it. Continuing good oral hygiene after root canal treatment is crucial. Brush twice a day, floss once a day and use an antiseptic mouthwash regularly to maintain the health of your teeth.

Smoking is a no-go for the first 24 hours!

After root canal treatment, it is particularly important not to smoke for at least 24 hours, as the pro-inflammatory substances in smoke further irritate the already irritated gums. Smoking is generally bad for the general health of the teeth. In addition, smokers are almost twice as likely to need root canal treatment as non-smokers, so you should consider quitting smoking permanently.2

Pain after root canal treatment

Even if the dentist has removed the nerves of the tooth, there are still many nerves in the surrounding tissue surrounding the tooth. This area is often somewhat swollen and inflamed after root canal treatment. The pain and hypersensitivity of the gums usually become noticeable a few hours after the treatment when the local anesthetic wears off. This pain is completely normal and should subside within a few days. If you still have discomfort after several days, you should see your dentist again.

Summary of the aftercare of root canal treatment

OK NOT OK
Cold or lukewarm food Eating immediately after surgery
Pureed fruit Hot meals or drinks 24 hours after the operation
Cooked vegetables Alcohol
Soft fruit (e.g. avocados or bananas) Crunchy foods (raw fruit and vegetables, nuts or seeds)
Breakfast cereals Sticky food (chewing gum or bread)
Pureed vegetables Blood-thinning foods
Spicy food Spicy food
Non-alcoholic drinks Smoking
Practicing the usual care routine
Pain-relieving and/or anti-inflammatory medication

When and why do you have root canal treatment?

Root canal treatment is performed when the soft inner part of a tooth known as the pulp is injured, inflamed or infected. Your dentist will examine the aching tooth and take x-rays to confirm their suspicions. The crown of the tooth - the part of the tooth visible from the outside - remains intact after root canal treatment, even if the pulp is dead. Removing the injured or infected pulp is the best way to preserve the structure of the tooth while relieving the patient of pain.3

In most cases, inflammation, infection and injury to the pulp have one of the following causes:

  • multiple dental procedures performed on the same tooth
  • A crack in the tooth or a broken tooth
  • Caries due to an untreated cavity
  • An internal injury to the tooth. The pulp of your tooth can be injured by vibrations without visibly damaging the crown of the tooth.

The most common symptoms of a damaged pulp include pain in the tooth, swelling and a sensation of heat in the gums.

What is root canal treatment and who carries it out?

Once the tooth area is anesthetized, your dentist will place a thin, green rubber sheet in your mouth. The so-called rubber dam covers everything except the tooth being worked on. This helps to keep the area around the tooth clean and prevent the spread of infection.6

Using a drill, the dentist drills a hole in the upper part of the tooth and removes the pulp. He cleans the empty hole with small instruments and a liquid to rinse and disinfect the inside of the tooth. The instruments help to give the canals a more regular shape so that the tooth can be better filled and cleaned. The rinsing fluid ensures that the infected material is quickly removed. Once the tooth is clean, your dentist will fill and seal it.

If the dentist is not sure that all the infection has been removed, they will make a temporary filling. You will then be given a second appointment to have the tooth permanently filled.7

If your tooth is badly worn or at risk of further damage, your dentist may suggest that you have a crown fitted. This is an artificial cap that fits over your tooth. You are more likely to need a crown if you are having one of your back teeth treated because they are used for chewing. Root canal treatment can be uncomfortable because you have to sit still with your mouth open for longer than you are used to. However, thanks to technological advances, having a root canal has become much more comfortable these days.

The most important facts about root canal treatment at a glance

How long does root canal treatment take?

The duration depends on the initial situation. Most root canal treatments take less than an hour. In more complex cases, it can sometimes take 90 minutes.

What is root canal treatment?

Root canal treatment is necessary if an area of the tooth is seriously damaged, infected or inflamed. During root canal treatment, the inside of the tooth is hollowed out and then filled and sealed. The nerves of the tooth are also removed. A tooth that has undergone root canal treatment does not feel pain.

How long does the pain last after root canal treatment?

During root canal treatment, the inner chamber of the tooth root is deeply cleaned, which in turn can irritate the surrounding nerves and gums. Mild to moderate pain after root canal treatment is quite normal. However, the pain should be gone after about a week. If not, you should visit the dentist again.8

What should you eat after root canal treatment?

  • Pureed fruit and vegetables / smoothies
  • Cooked vegetables
  • Soft fruit (e.g. bananas or avocados)
  • Breakfast cereals

When can you eat after root canal treatment?

Immediately after your root canal treatment, you should avoid eating as the local anesthetic is probably still active. You should avoid hot foods for the first 24 hours and, as the sealant may not have fully hardened, you should wait 2-3 days before consuming crunchy, sticky foods.

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Sources

  1. Nixdorf, D. R., Law, A. S., Lindquist, K., Reams, G. J., Cole, E., Kanter, K., Nguyen, R. H., Harris, D. R., & National Dental PBRN Collaborative Group (2016). Frequency, impact, and predictors of persistent pain after root canal treatment: a national dental PBRN study. Pain, 157(1), 159-165.
  2. Krall, E. A., Abreu Sosa, C., Garcia, C., Nunn, M. E., Caplan, D. J., & Garcia, R. I. (2006). Cigarette smoking increases the risk of root canal treatment. Journal of dental research, 85(4), 313-317.
  3. Levine M. (1988). Root-canal therapy: a means of treating oral pain and infection. Canadian family physician Medecin de famille canadien, 34, 1357-1365.
  4. Murray, C. A., & Saunders, W. P. (2000). Root canal treatment and general health: a review of the literature. International endodontic journal, 33(1), 1-18.
  5. Parirokh, M., Zarifian, A., & Ghoddusi, J. (2015). Choice of Treatment Plan Based on Root Canal Therapy versus Extraction and Implant Placement: A Mini Review. Iranian endodontic journal, 10(3), 152-155.
  6. Levine M. (1988). Root-canal therapy: a means of treating oral pain and infection. Canadian family physician Medecin de famille canadien, 34, 1357-1365.
  7. Iqbal A. (2016). The Factors Responsible for Endodontic Treatment Failure in the Permanent Dentitions of the Patients Reported to the College of Dentistry, the University of Aljouf, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Journal of clinical and diagnostic research : JCDR, 10(5), ZC146-ZC148.
  8. Levine M. (1988). Root-canal therapy: a means of treating oral pain and infection. Canadian family physician Medecin de famille canadien, 34, 1357-1365.