Your experience after a root canal is usually relatively uneventful, but may be as unique as the circumstances that led to your need for the procedure. After your root canal, your endodontist will likely send you home with instructions for how to care for your teeth until a permanent crown can be placed. One of the most common post-procedural questions that may be at the top of your mind is returning to work after getting a root canal. The simple answer is usually, “the day after your procedure.” However, several factors can influence this time estimate. Read below to learn what the procedure involves and what to expect after the fact.

What to Expect During a Root Canal

First, your endodontist will numb the affected area with an anesthetic. After ensuring that you are numb and relaxed, your endodontist will begin the procedure by drilling a tiny hole in the top of the affected tooth. This hole will pass through the enamel and dentin layers to access the pulp chamber. Your endodontist will then use root canal files to remove infected tissue from the pulp chamber and root canals.

Your mouth will then be flushed with a microbial solution to remove any remaining bacteria. To replace the infected dental pulp, they will fill the chamber and canals with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. The final step is to seal the tooth with dental cement and place a dental crown over the affected tooth to reduce the likelihood of bacteria re-entering the tooth.

Thankfully, with modern techniques and anesthetics, most patients report that they are comfortable during the procedure. For the first few days after treatment, your tooth may feel sensitive, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. This discomfort can be relieved with over-the-counter or prescription medications.

What to Expect After a Root Canal

Immediately after a root canal, your mouth may still feel numb. However, because the endodontist only uses a local numbing agent, you should be capable of driving and returning to work or school without major issues. However, you may feel some minor discomfort after this local anesthetic wears off.

Once the numbness wears off in a few hours, you can resume eating and drinking. However, be cautious about eating hard or extra chewy foods. Generally, you want to avoid biting on the treated tooth immediately after a root canal until you have your endodontist place a permanent crown on it. Until then, the treated tooth remains delicate and patients should follow basic oral care during this period of time.

Returning to Work After a Root Canal

As stated above, most root canals are relatively straightforward and easy to recuperate from in the course of the days following the procedure. There are three important factors to consider when questioning whether or not you’re prepared to return to work:

1. How Much Pain are you Experiencing?

You may experience discomfort after the root canal, but often it can be managed with over-the-counter painkillers. Serious pain can indicate that you may need to follow up with your endodontist.

2. Is Your Temporary Crown in Place?

If your temporary crown comes out for any reason, you need to contact your endodontist immediately to have it replaced. Keep in mind, you will also need to schedule your final appointment soon after to have the permanent crown installed.

3. Can you function with a sore or tender mouth at your job?

Does your line of work enable you to take it easy once a medical procedure has taken place? If not (if you can’t eat soft, cool foods or keep talking to a minimum), you might consider waiting a day or two to return to work.

As always, you should contact your endodontist if you experience the following symptoms post-procedure:

  • Severe pain or pressure
  • Visible swelling inside or outside your mouth
  • An allergic reaction to medication (rash, hives or itching)
  • Bite feels uneven
  • The temporary crown or filling, if one was put in place, comes out
  • Symptoms you experienced prior to treatment return

Our endodontists at Endodontic Specialists in Colorado Springs and Pueblo are wiling and ready to talk through a root canal procedure and all the implications it could have for you in returning to work after the fact. Give us a call today to learn more!