Three steps for Root Canal Recovery
You were just minding your own business, not bothering anybody and suddenly your tooth blows sky high. You begin experiencing root canal symptoms, like a toothache, of epic proportions. It’s in the middle of the night and nobody can help except Ibuprofen and Tylenol. You’re able to get in to see your dentist the next day for an emergency appointment and he does a root canal on you. Just getting rid of the pain, you’re very grateful. You never thought you’d be happy getting a root canal, but being comfortable and pain free makes you happy that you’ve received one. Your dentist tells you that he is finished and tells you your tooth will need to go through root canal recovery. He tells you to take it easy on your tooth for a while which you eagerly agree. But what does, “take it easy on that tooth” mean? What is root canal recovery?
Root canal recovery is the healing process a tooth goes through for the first year following root canal treatment. Root canal recovery is a process, but can be broken down into three steps.
Three steps of root canal recovery are:
- Primary root canal recovery
- Intermediate root canal recovery
- Final root canal recovery
These three steps of root canal recovery overlap, but will be described separately in more detail below.
Step 1: Primary root canal recovery:
Primary root canal recovery is the first 48 hours following a root canal. During primary root canal recovery, the tooth has undergone a great deal of trauma. First, the painful toothache brings with it a bacterial invasion. This invasion creates a lot of drama for the body: inflammation, increased blood flow and white blood cell armies. All the stuff you learned in 5th grade biology class is happening here. After the dentist performs a root canal and fills the tooth, your body has to deal with and clean up the mess left behind. Basically, the body has been injured and bruised and it is going to take a couple of days for the pain and swelling of this inflammation and bruising to be cleaned up by the body’s natural defense mechanisms… your immune system. Primary root canal recovery is the same process your body uses to deal with other injures like scratches, scuffs, and bruises. Typically, there is pain after root canal, since the area is sore and tender, the best way to deal with this is to take pain medication like Ibuprofen or Tylenol, or take the antibiotic that your dentist prescribed (if any), to keep the area clean from food and plaque, and to avoid chewing on that side.
Step 2: Intermediate root canal recovery
Intermediate root canal recovery is the process that starts to occur after the initial first couple of days the soreness goes away. Three or four days after a root canal, the tooth starts to settle down and become more comfortable. It still may be a little bit tender and you may notice some swelling or pain after root canal, but it is not as tender and not as swollen as before. You may notice the feeling of warmth in the area surrounding the tooth or you may notice a pulse or a heartbeat feeling in that area. Your body is working hard to tidy up the damage the infection caused in your body and your body is responding in a positive way. Your root canal recovery is in full swing. Little white blood cells are gobbling up debris and dead germ parts and pieces. Your antibiotics are kicking in, and your Ibuprofen helps any lingering tenderness you may still be experiencing. This is Mother Nature at her finest. Depending on the extent of the damage, intermediate root canal recovery can take up to a full year to complete. At this stage of root canal recovery, it is O.K. to eat soft foods with the tooth, but we usually recommend that you stay away from hard foods or the crunchy stuff. Just like a broken bone in your body, your broken tooth first initially mends itself, but then takes its dear sweet time to fully recover.
Step 3: Final root canal recovery
Final root canal recovery begins when the tooth doesn’t hurt anymore. You can eat what you want without pain or discomfort. There is no more swelling and the dentist can tell by the x-ray that complete healing has occurred. In many cases, the tooth will need to be crowned because it is weaker than the original tooth and needs to be protected from cracking. Final root canal recovery is a happy day for the tooth. The ordeal is over. Now, let’s brush and floss all of our teeth twice every day to keep this from happening all over again with another tooth!!
Getting a Root Canal is a drag!! Nobody ever volunteers for one. But if you do need one, keep in mind that they aren’t really that bad and that your tooth will go thru a root canal recovery process designed to heal you and protect you from harm.
If you have questions or want to know how much does a root canal cost or better yet, how much does my dental insurance cover when I get a root canal, please contact us or schedule an appointment at one of our three locations.