After Root Canal Therapy

Following root canal therapy, it is not uncommon to experience some discomfort. On rare occasion this discomfort may be significant. The process of root canal therapy includes remove all of the pulp (nerve) tissue to the root tip(s). This will cause inflammation in the bone tissue surrounding the root tip. The human immune system’s inflammatory response is at its peak for about 48 hours. This inflammation can be uncomfortable, but it should respond to anti-inflammatory medications. After the first 48 hours, your tooth should begin to feel significantly better.

Occasionally antibiotics may be necessary. If you are given prescription medications, please fill and take them. Your prescriptions will be much more effective if taken before the onset of discomfort. Your tooth will feel much better if you follow these instructions:

  • Try not to use the tooth for chewing for 72 hours, as this will cause further inflammation in the surrounding bone tissue.
  • You may have slight swelling in the tissues surrounding the tooth due to the rubber dam used for isolating your tooth. Warm salt water rinses will help. 1/2 teaspoon in an 8 oz. glass of warm water rinsed every 3 hours. Also, gently brushing and flossing of the area will speed recovery.
  • Take 600mg ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) every 6 hours or naproxin (Aleve) every 12 hours for the next 2 days. After 2 days, take only as needed.

When should I call the emergency number?

  • After normal office hours
  • If swelling or severe pain occurs that was not present prior to root canal therapy
  • If your prescribed medication(s) are not decreasing discomfort