Root Canal Treatment

You just had a root canal procedure done.

Whether you were put to sleep for this procedure or were only given local anesthesia, the post-operative instructions remain the same. If a local anesthetic was used to thoroughly numb the treated area, take caution not to bite or chew on your cheeks, lips and/or tongue for they may be numb for several hours following your appointment. Refrain from chewing until the numbness has completely worn off.

Do NOT try to feel around your tooth with your tongue to not disturb the temporary filling in the tooth. A permanent crown placed on your tooth within a MONTH of the root canal completion is recommended to avoid development of new decay underneath the temporary filling which may cause your root canal to fail or the tooth to fracture. You will be responsible for all costs incurred if you fail to follow this instruction.

DO NOT use the tooth to bite down on anything hard (almonds, pretzels, ice, etc.) until the permanent crown has been placed on the tooth. The tooth is prone to fracture and if you bite down on anything sticky, chewy, crunchy or hard, you may crack the tooth. It is very rare for temporary fill to fall out entirely. If it does, you should contact your dentist immediately. If your dentist’s office is closed, we recommend you purchase some temporary filling material from any pharmacy and place a dab in the tooth until you have an opportunity to see your dentist at his office.

The three most common reasons for pain are:

1. Sore jaw joint from having your mouth open for a prolonged time.

2. Sore muscle from the injection site.

3. Sore gum from the rubber dam placement.

All of the above scenarios should be handled with over the counter medication, primarily. If you are given any prescription medications related to this treatment please take them as instructed by your dentist. Remember! they are most effective when taken before the numbing diminishes and normal sensation returns to the area. Discontinue the narcotic medication if it causes nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, dizziness, itching or constipation. You may take an alternative over the counter pain medication as necessary or call your dentist’s office for assistance.

You may floss and brush your tooth as normal, unless told otherwise by the dentist.


If a file broke in a twisted or curved root canal and cannot be retrieved and may be necessary to seal it in the root canal and if a root canal filling material extrudes out the canal, an Apicoectomy might be necessary to perform in the future to seal the root canal. This usually causes no harm.



Although about 95% of root canals cause very little to no discomfort after the treatment is completed, there are about 5% of cases which can cause significant pain. These are commonly referred to as “flare ups.” They mostly occur on badly infected teeth, teeth that are extremely irritated, or teeth that have a history of prior treatment. Sometimes, however, they occur randomly, even on patients that have had several root canals done previously without any problems.

If you have a flare-up you may experience moderate to severe pain, swelling (can get as large as a golf ball), bruising, throbbing, and general discomfort, which usually begins a few hours after treatment and may last 2 to 3 days.

Hopefully you had a pleasant experience, considering the circumstances.

It is your dentist’s desire that your recovery be as smooth and pleasant as possible. Following these instructions will assist you, but if you have concerns and/or questions about your progress, please call your dentist’s office immediately!

We encourage you to speak up if you do not like or understand some aspects of your oral care. You deserve to be heard and your dentist deserves the opportunity to listen. This is what most dentists do, and they will make considerable efforts to accomodate you.

You will be responsible for all costs incurred if you fail to follow these instructions.