May is National Dental Care Awareness Month. This is the time of year to pay attention to your dental health if you haven’t been doing so. This is especially true for people who have just undergone a recent surgical procedure, such as a root canal.
Speaking of a root canal, there are some things you should and shouldn’t do while the tooth and gum areas are healing. Learn what to do and not to do post-operation.
Why Post-Operation Root Canal Care Matters
According to a study from the American Association of Endodontists, root canals have a success rate between 70% and 95%. What accounts for this fairly wide discrepancy? A lot of this has to do with patient actions and inactions in the days following the procedure.
There’s nothing you can do that will guarantee a 100% success rate. However, following certain best practices while avoiding certain bad habits will tilt the odds of success in your favor. The following outlines the practices to follow and the ones to avoid.
Do: Maintain Dental Hygiene at Home
After a root canal, you’ll still need to brush, floss, and rinse the way you normally do. However, go softly when brushing the operated tooth. Switch to a soft-bristled brush and be gentle with your strokes.
Don’t: Consume Hard Foods
Be selective with your food choice over the next few days. Aim for soft foods and avoid foods that require a strong bite force, such as apples and tough meats. Perform the bulk of your chewing on the non-operated side of your mouth. However, it’s fine if some food ends up on or near the root canal.
Do: Use a Saltwater Gargle
This isn’t a strict requirement. However, you may rinse your mouth several times a day using a mixture of water and plain salt. Aim for natural sea salt or Himalayan salt.
A saline rinse has anti-bacterial properties and also helps bring down swelling in the affected area. Consider using a saline rinse twice a day for the first week after the operation.
Don’t: Skip Required Medications
Your dentist will write a prescription for antibiotics after a root canal. The antibiotics are meant to prevent infection. Follow the directions on the bottle. The dosage requirement is usually two to three tablets per day until the bottle is empty.
Some people may skip a dosage here or there, thinking it’s not a big deal. However, not fully following through may increase the probability of complications and prevent your body’s natural ability to heal.
Do: Maintain all Follow-up Appointments
After the initial surgery, there will be several follow-up appointments required. These are usually short visits where the dentist just needs to perform a quick checkup to ensure proper healing. Treat these appointments like any other. It’s okay if you need to postpone for a bit, but don’t hold them off indefinitely. Remember that it’s possible for the root canal to fail; should this occur, it’s important that your dentist detects this early on.
Read also: Do I Need a Root Canal?
Don’t: Ignore Complications
If you notice abnormalities develop, then make an appointment; don’t ignore it or hold off on the issue until the next follow-up appointment. For example, a common issue that arises is the temporary crown shattering or cracking.
Some patients ignore this, but leaving the tooth exposed leaves it vulnerable to bacteria buildup. Other complications include recurring swelling or gradually increasing pain.
Make an appointment at Maestri Dental if you’re experiencing recurring tooth pain. It’s possible you may need a root canal treatment. Our restorative dentistry in Lafayette, LA, is staffed by experienced endodontists. We will consult with you throughout the process. Rest assured that you’ll know precisely what to do and not to do pre-and post-root canal treatment.