Dental work has never been a favorite activity for most people, and some procedures create more fear than others. Root canals are one of the more dreaded treatments, but chances are your image of a root canal is based on old information. Modern root canals still take work, but they are a lot easier to get through, and recovery is not nearly as bad as its reputation would lead you to believe.
Do Take OTC Medication
Mild pain or sensitivity is a common side effect after completing the first stage of a root canal. Your mouth has been hanging open, your jaw and gums have undergone what can only be described as light trauma. But over-the-counter (OTC) medication should reduce that pain. There is a chance that your dentists might discuss prescribing something stronger, but in most cases, some acetaminophen (or ibuprofen, if your dentist gives you the OK to use it) should do.
Don't take too much, of course, but don't delay taking a dose if it's time. Letting the sensitivity build and letting your toothache a bit does not help you at all. The pain would only make the recovery seem like it's not going well.
Be Careful Chewing
You know that care when chewing helps give your jaw and tooth a chance to rest, but there's one other reason to be careful chewing: sometimes your bite can turn out to be a bit uneven after the procedure. Chew carefully and slowly at first, and ensure that you don't feel anything wrong with your bite. If you do, contact your dentist immediately so he or she can fix the issue quickly.
Baby the Tooth
You're going to have a fairly restricted diet for a couple of days after the procedure as you recover. You may have to have nothing but liquids or soft foods for a bit. However, eventually, you'll be able to get back to eating a regular diet. It is still a good idea to baby the tooth a bit. Don't chew on very hard foods, avoid sticky foods like caramel, and try to chew on the other side of your mouth. Your tooth will get better, but being cautious never hurts.
Be Very Careful Flossing and Brushing
You have to brush and floss thoroughly around the tooth, but you should also be careful. The gums and tooth will be sensitive, and brushing and flossing too vigorously only adds to the sensitivity by irritating the gums around the tooth. Ask your dentist to demonstrate how to brush carefully if you're used to scrubbing your teeth quickly.
A root canal certainly isn't a procedure that you'd want to go through, but if you have to have one, don't fear it. It won't take long before the procedure is completely done, and you can get back to eating normally.