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Home » Root Canal: 20 Questions Answered

Root Canal: 20 Questions Answered

Root Canal is a dental procedure that involves the removal of the soft center of the tooth called the pulp. It is designed to eliminate infection and protect the tooth from future infections.

Below are answers to the most frequently asked questions about root canals.

Also Read: Costs of root canals in major US cities and abroad

How long does a root canal take to heal?

Recovery from a root canal may vary depending on the patient. The health status of the tooth and the degree of the infection can affect recovery. Also, you may experience discomfort after the surgery if you have a severe infection. However, it usually takes a few days to fully recover for people with mild cases. It may take longer if you have extreme or complicated cases.

If you experience swelling, pain, or other unusual symptoms after the surgery, reach out to your dentist.

Also Read: Are root canals dangerous?

Is smoking after the root canal treatment allowed?

After a root canal, it is not advisable to smoke. Smoking after a root canal may make you more vulnerable to other infections. Smoking is generally bad for dental hygiene and is responsible for teeth degeneration and vulnerability. Since your body is still recovering, smoking will likely not be in your best interest.

Smoking can cause inflammation, and you don’t need new pains after getting relieved from one.

Another reason you should not smoke is smoking and pain relief medications may not be compatible.

How bad does a root canal hurt?

Though the name sounds scary, a root canal procedure is usually painless. With technological advancements, dentists now use anesthesia to numb the tooth and the mouth area. This helps prevent painful experiences during the procedure. You can feel mild pain after the procedure for a few days.

Most patients who need a root canal are already in pain. The root canal treatment helps relieve them of the pain rather than worsen it.

What foods to eat after the root canal?

The goal is to recover as quickly as possible without pain after the root canal. One of the best ways to ensure that is through the right nutritional intake. Knowing what to eat after a root canal and eating right can be helpful for a quick recovery.

Below are suggested food ideas that are proven helpful for dental patients after the root canal.

  • Pudding and hummus
  • Fruits like bananas, peaches, and mangos
  • Dairies such as milk, eggs, pancakes, and wheat cream
  • Smoothies, milkshakes, yogurts, and ice-creams
  • Mashed potatoes, cheese, soups, and soft salads

Prioritize consuming soft foods as they help quick recovery from the procedure. Try as much as possible to distance yourself from spicy or hot foods.

Also Read: Can I eat meat after root canal treatment?

Can you get a root canal while pregnant?

Yes, you can. Pregnancy can be a catalyst that enhances the development of dental problems. Many people lack this knowledge and stop dental visits during pregnancy to protect the baby. Even some become lazy to even take good care of their dental hygiene. Discovering you need a root canal during pregnancy is common; fortunately, the process is safe.

You can get a root canal during pregnancy since local anesthetics have no complications on your health. Also, the antibiotics and pain reliefs used are approved and safe for pregnancy. It will be more painful to wait nine months to get a root canal than to get it during pregnancy since it is safe.

Also Read: 10 Most Common Side-Effects of a Root Canal Treatment

How to tell if you need a root canal?

With over 15 million root canals performed yearly, it shouldn’t be surprising if your dentist says you need it. Since root canal is common, you should inform your dentist if you have the following symptoms:

  • Severe tooth or severe mouth pain
  • Bumps on your gums
  • Long-time sensitivity or pain from hot and cold drinks or food 
  • Swollen or darkening of the gums
  • Cracked or chipped tooth.

How bad is a root canal?

The treatment procedure for a root canal is not bad. It is considered very safe. It is always advisable to go for treatment to alleviate your pain.

While the treatment is safe, the cause of the pain is bad. The deep decay or dark gum caused by the infection can infect other areas quickly through your teeth’s root canals. If this is not curbed, it can form an abscess. An abscess is another extreme situation you don’t want your teeth to get to. So, treating the root canal early is advisable. 

Do you need a crown after a root canal?

This is determined by some factors after the procedure. The crown is not always necessary, but it can be beneficial depending on the tooth’s condition after treatment. The crown is determined by the number of teeth remaining after a root canal. 

A crown will be necessary to prevent further cracking if the tooth is cracked. Also, a crown is needed to maintain teeth structure if the tooth cannot be salvaged.

Besides, a crown provides added protection for the tooth and is highly advisable.

Can I drive after a root canal?

Yes, if the effects of the anesthesia have worn off. It is a common practice to have the patients sedated for a root canal. Hence, you cannot drive immediately after the treatment procedure due to the effect of the sedation. But if you wear off the anesthesia’s effect and are comfortable, you can drive.

However, avoid driving if you feel pain, discomfort, stress, or are distracted after the process. It is for safety reasons.

How long does a root canal hurt after surgery?

After the surgery, root canal pain should not last more than 3-5 days. Depending on the degree of the infection before treatment, it should be gone in a few days. If the tooth requires filling or crowning, it may take a few days to get used to.

If the pain doesn’t reduce or go away after five days, inform your dentist immediately. Sometimes, there might be complications after a root canal treatment. So, treating it early will ensure a quick recovery.

Do they put you to sleep for a root canal?

Depending on the degree of the infection, you should likely be awake during the procedure. Local anesthetics are used for root canal treatment. Since local anesthesia only numbs the root canal area, you should be awake. However, some patients fall into a light sleep for the procedure if they are relaxed.

However, some patients intentionally ask to be put to sleep in some rare cases.

Can a root canal get infected?

Getting an infection from the root canal is extremely rare, but it isn’t impossible. Dental hygienists are always extra careful with the procedure when treating the infection. However, if you still feel signs of infection and pain after the root canal treatment, revisit your dentist ASAP.

Another reason a root canal can get infected after treatment is the bacteria are not removed entirely. A delay in placing a permanent restoration or crack in the crown and a lack of proper oral hygiene can lead to infections too.

Also Read: Preventing a Gum Infection After a Root Canal

How long does it take to do a root canal?

This is dependent on the degree of the dental problem. In most cases, you should expect it to last between 90 minutes to 3 hours. However, some have reported that it can be done in 30 minutes. Usually, a root canal is done within one appointment but may require two for extreme cases.

The time taken is determined by factors such as the number of canals that needs to be worked on. Also, the type of tooth that needs treatment and the degree of decay and refilling are other factors. It cannot be generalized as each case is different from the other.

Can a root canal fail?

A root canal is generally considered safe and effective. Like other medical treatments, it can fail too. Though this is extremely rare, it is possible to fail occasionally. While the time it fails is not predictable, it can be immediately after or years after the procedure. To find out if a root canal has failed, you may check with your dentist again after the treatment. 

If the bacteria has not been removed from the infected area, it can lead to a failed root canal. Seeking treatment again after noticing the recurrence of the pain on the treated tooth should be immediate. Making an early attempt to treat your tooth can help ensure you save it without losing it. 

What are the symptoms of a failed root canal?

After a root canal, you should be okay, but in the rare case that you are not, maybe the treatment has failed. Hence, look out the following symptoms for it:

  • Experiencing pain similar to the one you experienced before the root canal treatment. 
  • Swelling that persists for more than three days after the treatment
  • Sensitivity when biting down
  • Facial or neck swelling
  • Discoloration of the tooth
  • A pimple on the jaw

Root canal tooth broke off at gum line. What to do?

If you have a broken root canal tooth, it is a medical emergency. The most important thing to do now is to manage the bleeding and pain. Head off to the hospital immediately.

In most cases, restoration work will be done to protect the tooth by placing a crown on it.

Why do I need a root canal?

A root canal is a treatment needed to fix issues with your teeth that cause you pain. They may include but are not limited to cavities, cracked or chipped teeth, or issues from tooth filling. Also, it can be because of tooth decay.

Since the cause of root canal pain is a bacterial infection, not treating the infection can cause it to spread quickly in your mouth. This can cause harm to the teeth and leads to a lot of pain.

Can you have tooth pain years after root canal surgery?

Yes, it is possible, but highly unlikely. The surgical procedure is considered safe and effective. However, in rare cases of relapse, the root canal can fail, and the tooth may be cracked. When this happens, you develop tooth pain. Also, it could be reinfection of the tooth that causes tooth pain. In which cases, you will need to go for a new treatment.

What are the side effects of a root canal treatment?

This treatment procedure is painless, but the aftermath might lead to mild pain. After a root canal treatment, you can expect to feel numb around the tooth area for some time. Also, the mouth can be sensitive to hot or cold foods and drinks. You can feel pain for a couple of days too. But apart from these, the treatment has no special side effects.

Also Read: 10 Most Common Side-Effects of a Root Canal Treatment

Are root canals safe?

Root canals are considered safe and efficient, with an over 95% success rate. Most dental hygienists are very cautious when dealing with root canals. So, there is a minimal margin for errors in the procedure. Also, it is safe for all age groups, and it is usually advised to be done earlier. 


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