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Home Care Instructions – After Treatment

Your tooth and surrounding gum tissue may be slightly tender for several days as a result of your treatment and previous condition of your tooth. This tenderness is normal and is no cause for alarm. Do not chew food on the affected side until your endodontic therapy is completed and your tooth is covered with a protective restoration provided by your restorative/general dentist. You may continue your regular dental hygiene regimen. 

NOTE: If it is necessary for our practice to prescribe an antibiotic and/or pain reliever, alcohol intake is not advised while taking any of these medications. Should you experience discomfort that cannot be controlled with the below-listed medications, or you should develop golf-ball swelling size or larger, please contact our office and have your pharmacy information ready.

It is normal to feel some tenderness in the area over the next few days as your body undergoes the natural healing process. You may also feel some tenderness in your jaw from keeping it open for an extended period of time. These symptoms are temporary and usually respond very well to over-the-counter pain medications along with warm, salt water rinses. It is important for you to follow the instructions on how to take your medications. Remember that narcotic medications, if prescribed, may make you drowsy and/or nauseous. Caution should be exercised in operating dangerous machinery or driving a car after taking them.


Guidelines For Post-Treatment Care

  • Do not eat anything or drink hot beverages until the numbness in your mouth wears off.  This will prevent you from biting your cheek or tongue. Numbness typically lasts 2-3 hours.
  • Do not chew or or bite on the treated tooth until you have had it restored by your dentist.  It is usually recommended to give your tooth at least a week (and within 30 days) of healing before restoring your tooth with your general dentist.  
  • Be sure to brush and floss your teeth as you normally would.         
  • If the opening in your tooth was restored with a temporary filling material, it is not unusual for a thin layer to wear down, feeling uneven.  Do not be alarmed if you do not feel the temporary filling. It is normal for the filling to sink down into your tooth over the course of time.

Contact our office right away and have your pharmacy information ready if you develop any of the following:

  • golf-ball sized or larger swelling inside or outside of your mouth;
  • an allergic reaction to medication, normally indicated by rash, hives or itching (nausea is not an allergic reaction);
  • a return of original symptoms; or
  • your bite feels uneven.


Post-Operative Pain Management

Not all patients experience pain after root canal treatment.  Not all patients experience the same pain pre and post root canal treatment.  Even the same patient requiring a root canal treatment on another tooth may experience different symptoms or level of pain, if any. However, pain after root canal treatment is normal and could last 7-10 days.  If you are experiencing pain after root canal treatment, the following is recommend:

  • If you are able to take ibuprofen (i.e. Advil or Motrin), take 600 mg (equaling three over-the-counter tablets) every six hours.

If pain occurs before the next scheduled dose of ibuprofen add, if you are able to, add acetaminophen (i.e. Tylenol) by taking 1,000 mg (equaling two over-the-counter tablets), or a prescription pain medication (if prescribed to you by our practice) after the third hour of your dose of ibuprofen.  It is recommended to alternate your ibuprofen with acetaminophen or prescription medication, rather than taking the simultaneously. Choose only acetaminophen or a prescription pain medication. Do NOT take both to alternate with ibuprofen. 

Repeat this regimen for the first 2-3 days, then as often as necessary. A sample schedule is as follows:  

       12:00 PM take 600 mg of ibuprofen.

       3:00  PM take 1,000 mg of acetaminophen or one tablet of prescription pain medication.

       6:00  PM take 600 mg of ibuprofen.

       9:00  PM take 1,000 mg of acetaminophen or one tablet of prescription pain medication.

For some, prescription pain medication may make your drowsy and/or nauseous.  Many find taking their pain medication with food is helpful. Caution should be exercised in operating dangerous machinery or driving a vehicle after taking prescription pain medication.

Taking Care of Your Tooth

Root canal treatment is only one step in returning your tooth to full function. A proper final restoration of the tooth is extremely important in ensuring long-term success.  Not having your tooth properly restored in a timely manner (generally within 30 days) significantly increases the possibility of failure of the root canal procedure or tooth fracture.

Contact your dentist as soon as possible to arrange your next appointment. If your tooth is being treated in more than one visit by us, do not return to your dentist for the final restoration treatment is completed.


If you call our office after hours with an endodontic emergency and you have been seen as a patient by Dr. Ward or Dr. Ritter, a telephone number of the individual on-call for emergencies will be provided in our voice mail message. Before calling, please have your pharmacy telephone number available.

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