Sometimes the scariest part of getting root canal treatment is facing the healing process. You might be picturing being immobile and miserable for a few weeks, but this certainly isn’t the case. In general, the root canal recovery process should only last a few days, but if you don’t listen to your endodontist, it could easily be extended, which you definitely want to avoid. In some cases, you can even return to your daily routine on the same day of the procedure, but you will experience some minor discomfort. If you follow these top 7 root canal recovery tips, you’ll feel better in no time:

1. Sleep…A Lot

The number one root canal recovery tip is to get as much rest as possible. Your body is trying to heal and getting an adequate amount of sleep will help you get back to your normal routine asap. When sleeping, make sure to elevate your head in order to minimize the pain from your recently treated dental tooth. Keep in mind that a lack of sleep will only prolong the healing process, which we certainly want to avoid. 

2. Don’t Eat Right Away

It can certainly be tempting to want to eat a snack after your procedure, but it’s important to refrain from eating for a few hours, or at least until the numbness in your mouth goes away. 

3. Gargle Warm Salt Water Daily

Another top root canal recovery tip to combat pain is to gargle with warm salt water every day! After the procedure, your gum is more susceptible to infection. However, if you rinse out your mouth with warm salt water, it can help to keep it clean and free from swelling.

4. Eat Ice Cream!

After your treatment, one of the best parts of the root canal recovery process is being told by your endodontist to eat ice cream. Yes, believe it or not, you can consume ice cream (free of nuts/chunks)! Since ice cream is cold, it helps to reduce any inflammation and infection. However, you should avoid hot beverages, drinking from a straw, smoking, alcohol, and foods that are hard or sticky because these will encourage infections.  

5. Avoid Strenuous Activities

This next tip will provide you with the opportunity to watch that movie you’ve been meaning to see for years, or to binge watch your favorite tv show. It’s recommended to avoid any strenuous activities or exercise for at least 48 hours after your procedure. You don’t necessarily need to be sitting in one spot for a whole day, but don’t go on a run or a hike. This could just serve to prolong your healing process.  

6. Take Over-The-Counter Pain Medication

For some patients, they feel fine right after the treatment, but then after the anesthesia wears off, they begin to experience the pain. If this happens, don’t panic, this is normal and it won’t be permanent. The point of root canal therapy is to relieve your toothache, not cause you additional discomfort. To combat the pain, you can take over-the-counter pain medications, such as Advil.

7. Pay Attention 

Finally, the last part of the root canal recovery process is to pay attention to how you are feeling. After a procedure, some amount of pain is quite normal, but it is only temporary. If you continue to feel pain or discomfort after a few days, you might have an infection or other issue. Don’t ignore the signs! Instead, contact your endodontist right away and try to schedule an in-person visit so that the problem can be quickly addressed. You certainly don’t want to have another dental procedure right after getting a root canal treatment!

The Road To Recovery

Many people give root canal procedures a bad reputation because they assume it’ll be immensely painful and the healing process will be too long. However, with a good endodontist, these procedures should not be painful. As for the recovery process, the ball is now in your court. There is only so much your endodontist can tell you, but the rest is up to you. If you choose to neglect advice from professionals, you’ll have to deal with the consequences of a prolonged healing period and the possibility of new infections or inflammation. However, if you follow the tips above, you’ll be on the road to recovery in just a few, short days after your procedure. Before you know it, you’ll be back to your regular routine, but this time, with a happy and healthy smile. 

About the Author

Dr. Harris has been a practicing dentist and oral surgeon since 2005. In 2012, he received his Master’s of Science in Dentistry and a certificate in Endodontics. He founded East Coast Endodontics shortly after receiving his master’s degree. He also currently holds a part-time position as a Clinical Assistant Professor for the Endodontics department at Virginia Commonwealth University. View his full bio.