FAQs About A Root Canal Procedure And Recovery

Posted on: 19 October 2021


What should you expect from a root canal and the recovery? This common dental procedure may strike fear in some patients. But the days of a painful process and extended recovery period are over. Modern dental and endodontic methods mean less discomfort and an abbreviated recovery time. Take a look at what you need to know about this procedure, recovery, and how to heal quickly.

What Exactly Is a Root Canal?

Before jumping to the recovery period, you may need to learn more about the procedure and why some patients need it. This dental treatment is often necessary when the soft tissue inside the tooth's root (known as the pulp) is infected or inflamed. The most common reasons for this procedure include serious decay/infection, a chipped or cracked tooth, or a faulty dental crown. 

After the dentist x-rays the area and numbs your mouth, they will make a small opening in the crown. This allows them to clean and shape the pulp chamber and canal. The dentist will then fill the canal with a rubber-like material and place either a temporary or permanent filling on the top of the tooth. If the dentist uses a temporary filling, you will need to return for a crown or other permanent restoration. 

Does a Root Canal Hurt?

You shouldn't feel pain during this procedure. The numbing agent used before the dentist begins treatment will eliminate any pain or discomfort. If you do experience mid-procedure pain, the dentist may need to give you an additional anesthetic. 

Some patients prefer to rest during this procedure. If you have dental anxiety or are nervous about possible pain, talk to your dentist or endodontist about the possibility of sedation. Not all dental practices offer this option. Unlike general anesthesia, dental sedation allows you to relax and sleep during the treatment. You will have the ability to wake up immediately after the procedure and walk out of the office. But you will need a responsible adult to drive you home. 

How Long Does Recovery Take?

The answer to this question depends on a few factors. These include the type of anesthesia used, your overall health, and how well you follow the dentist's directions. If you had sedation and slept through the procedure, you should plan to stay home for the rest of the day. You may feel groggy and cannot operate a vehicle, machinery, or anything else that requires your full attention or coordination. 

Patients who have a root canal with a local anesthetic (meaning you won't sleep through the procedure), may feel numb for a few hours. Avoid eating during this time. You will gradually gain the feeling back in your mouth as the numbing medication wears off. You may experience some discomfort or sensitivity for the next few days. The dentist can recommend an over-the-counter or (if needed) prescription pain reliever.