Instructions Following Root Canal Therapy


While flare-ups are rare, they occur in about 5% of cases and may cause significant pain.  They generally only occur with teeth that are extremely irritated and/or infected or with teeth that have a history of prior treatment.  These sometimes occur randomly, even on patients that have had root canals done in the past without problems.  If you have a flare-up, you may experience moderate to severe pain, swelling, throbbing, or general discomfort; please contact our office right away.  You may be prescribed additional medication such as antibiotics, and/or you may be asked to come to the office for further treatment.


Please follow the guidelines below and contact us with any questions.

  • Avoid eating or drinking anything until the anesthesia has worn off. You have a temporary filling that takes about 1/2 hour to harden. Please do not feel around your tooth with your tongue.
  • If any prescriptions were given, please have them filled promptly. If no prescriptions were given and you are not allergic, you may take any ibuprofen type of medication such as Motrin or Advil every 6-8 hours as needed for discomfort and alleviation of swelling. Alternatively, you may take Tylenol every 6-8 hours as needed. Do not exceed the guidelines printed on the label for any medication. If you are unable to achieve adequate pain control, please call the root canal specialist’s office or our office.
  • You may find using an ice pack to the affected area helpful. Please do not apply ice directly to the skin and use a cloth between the ice and skin at all times. You may apply the ice for up to 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off for the next 6-8 hours as needed.
  • Once you begin to eat and drink, avoid chewing or biting on the area the root canal was performed until your permanent restoration is in place. The area may be more sensitive due to swelling. The temporary in place is a soft composite that is vulnerable to fracturing (cracking) with hard substances such as peanuts, pretzels, hard candy, ice cubes, etc. You will need to see a restorative dentist within TWO WEEKS  to have a permanent crown placed. Please contact your restorative dentist to make an appointment at your earliest convenience. Waiting longer than two weeks increases the chances that the temporary or tooth will fracture and/or decay will develop. A fractured tooth may not be restorable.
  • Please keep the area of root canal therapy clean by gently brushing regularly but avoid flossing until the final restoration is placed. Normal brushing and flossing of other areas of the mouth is fine.
  • It is rare for a temporary filling to fall out, although it may divot over time. If the temporary falls out, please contact your general dentist as soon as possible. If your temporary falls out after office hours, you may purchase a temporary filling material from most pharmacies and follow the included instructions.
  • Some discomfort following the root canal is normal for 2 to 4 days after the treatment. In some cases the tooth and surrounding tissue may be sore for few weeks following the treatment.
  • Please take all medications as prescribed.