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Post-Operative Instructions: Root Canal (Endodontics)

This page explains general post-operative recommendations following endodontic (root canal) procedures. Though comprehensive in nature, individual modifications may be recommended.  Please do not hesitate to discuss any specific concerns you have with your dentist.

  • Your endodontic (root canal) treatment will allow you to maintain your tooth while removing the source of infection and relieving the pain you may have been experiencing.
  • Local anesthetic was used today, typically this wears off within 2-4 hours though this may vary depending on the type of anesthetic used.  Please be careful not to bite your lip, cheek or tongue while you are numb.
  • If a crown was recommended it is best to avoid chewing with your root canal treated tooth until the crown is completed.  
  • It is recommended that your final restoration is placed within 2-4 weeks of the completion of your root canal.  Failure to do so may result in a non-restorable fracture or re-infection of your tooth, requiring additional treatments, referral to a specialist and/or an extraction.
  • The infection of the pulp, or nerve, of a tooth causes inflammation in the tissues surrounding and supporting your tooth root(s).  Cleaning out the infection may aggravate this condition.  As such, residual soreness, discomfort and/or throbbing of the area treated may last for several days and will generally dissipate as the region heals.  If you were experiencing pain before your root canal treatment, it may take longer for the area to heal and get back to feeling “normal.”
  • It is common for a root canal treated tooth to feel “different” when tapping on it or pushing on your gum tissue at the base of the root(s).  Please avoid doing so.
  • Over the counter anti-inflammatory analgesics such as Ibuprofen (Advil) or Naproxen (Aleve) are the best products to relieve discomfort following a root canal.  We recommend taking them before your anesthetic wears off to stay ahead of any discomfort.  Today we recommended:
    • Ibuprofen (“Advil”) 400-600mg every 6-8 hours [note: 3200mg/24 hour maximum]
    • Acetaminophen (“Tylenol”) 500-650mg every 4-6 hours [note: 4000mg/24 hour maximum]
    • Naproxen sodium (“Aleve”) 250mg every 8 hours [note: 1250mg/24 hour maximum]
  • We recommend 400-600mg of Ibuprofen taken every 6 hours for the first 48 hours after root canal treatment.  If needed and as recommended by your dentist, you may alternate Ibuprofen with 500-650mg Acetaminophen (Tylenol).  If you are unable to take Ibuprofen or NSAIDs, you may take 500-650mg Acetaminophen every 4-6 hours as needed.
    • Please note the daily maximum dose of Ibuprofen is 3200mg (16 tabs) and the daily maximum dose of Acetaminophen is 4000mg.  Do not exceed these.
    • If the dentist feels it is indicated, a prescription for pain medication may be given.  Narcotic medications should never be taken in combination with alcohol, antihistamines, tranquilizers or muscle relaxers.  You should not drive while taking narcotic medications.  
    • You should NOT take additional Acetaminophen (Tylenol) with narcotic medications already containing it.  
  • In most cases, antibiotics are not needed after root canal treatment, however we should feel they are necessary a prescription will be given.  If you have pain or swelling that occurs several days after the procedure was completed, please call our office.  This is known as a “flare up” and antibiotics or other medications may be indicated 

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