Before and After a Root Canal + What To Expect

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Bacterial infection in the root canal is a common dental problem. It happens when the tooth’s pulp (nerve and blood vessels) becomes infected. The infection is usually caused by bacteria that enter the tooth through a crack or cavity.

The infection can cause the pulp to become inflamed, which can lead to pain and swelling. If the infection is not treated, it can spread to the bone and surrounding tissues and may even result in tooth loss.

Bacterial infections in the teeth are prevalent because our mouths are full of bacteria. The food we eat and the things we do (like brushing our teeth) help these bacteria grow. Root canal treatment is effective in treating these infections and saving the tooth.


What Is a Root Canal

Root canals are a standard procedure to save a tooth infected or damaged. The goal of a root canal is to clean out the inside of the tooth and seal it so that no further damage can occur. Dentists usually perform root canals, but they can also be performed by endodontists, specialized dentists who focus on this type of procedure.


Root Canal Before and After

Before the process

You have to prepare for a root canal the way you would for any other dental procedure. This means you should brush your teeth and floss thoroughly before your appointment. Below are things to do the night before and the morning of your root canal to ensure the best possible outcome.


Avoid tobacco and alcohol.

Alcohol and tobacco can contribute to the development of an infection. They also make it more difficult for your dentist to numb the area around your tooth, leading to increased discomfort during the procedure.

If possible, avoid using these substances in the 24 hours leading up to your root canal.



After the procedure, your mouth will likely be numb. This can make it difficult to eat and drink. Having a meal before your root canal is important, so you don’t become faint during the procedure.

Get a good night’s sleep.

Try to get a good night’s sleep before your root canal. This will help you to feel more relaxed and better able to cope with any discomfort during the procedure. It will also help your body to heal more quickly after the procedure.


Have someone to take you home

You may feel dizzy or lightheaded after a root canal. It’s essential to have someone to drive you home so that you can rest and recover after the procedure. You should also avoid driving or operating heavy machinery for the rest of the day.


After the process

You will likely feel discomfort for a day or two after the procedure. Your dentist will prescribe pain medication and antibiotics if needed. It is normal to see blood on your toothbrush or saliva for the first few days. Be sure to follow all of your dentist’s instructions for at-home care. This may include using a special mouthwash or brushing and flossing gently.

You should avoid chewing hard foods or crunchy snacks for a few days after the procedure. Eating softer foods will help you heal faster and reduce discomfort. Be sure to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods during this time to promote healing.

Regular checkups with your dentist are essential even after you’ve had a root canal. Your dentist will monitor your tooth to ensure the infection has completely cleared and the root canal is functioning correctly.

Also, it’s crucial to maintain good oral hygiene habits at home. This includes brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and using mouthwash. These habits will help keep your teeth and gums healthy and prevent future infections.


The Root Canal Procedure

The procedure is usually not painful and can be completed in one or two visits. After the treatment, your tooth may be sensitive for a short time, but this can be managed with over-the-counter pain medication. It is normal to experience some discomfort after the numbing medication wears off.



The doctor uses a local anesthetic to numb the gum around your teeth. This will ensure that you remain comfortable during the procedure. It’s important to note that the anesthetic will only numb the area around the tooth. You may still feel pressure during the procedure.


Dam placement

Once the area is numb, the doctor will put rubber dam on your tooth. This thin sheet of rubber isolates the area during the procedure. It also prevents you from swallowing or inhaling any materials during the procedure.


Access preparation

The next step is creating an opening in the tooth so the doctor can access the pulp chamber. To do this, the doctor will use a drill to make a small hole in the top of your tooth.


Pulp removal

Once they have access to the pulp chamber, they will remove the damaged or infected pulp using special instruments. The dentist will clean out the infected canals using small hand files or a rotary device. Many dentists will use a special microscope during the procedure because the field of surgery is so small to the naked eye. 


Canal filling

The canals become empty after the cleaning process and need to be sealed. The canal is filled with gutta-percha, which comes from a tropical tree. Gutta-percha is a biocompatible natural latex, meaning it will not cause an allergic reaction in your body.



A temporary filling is placed in the tooth to protect it while the root canal is healed. The sealant helps to keep saliva and other fluids from getting into the tooth. The sealant also helps to prevent bacteria from getting into the tooth.


Final restoration

After the root canal procedure, your tooth will be weaker than it was before. That’s why it’s important to have a “crown” or “cap” placed on the tooth to protect it from breaking. The crown also restores the tooth to its original shape and size.

If you don’t have a crown put on your tooth, it may break, and you may need a more extensive (and expensive) procedure to fix it.

The crown will be made to match the color of your natural teeth. No one will be able to tell that you have a crown.


What are the signs you need a root canal?

Extreme pain when you bite or chew

You know something is wrong when your tooth starts hurting every time you try to eat. An infection or inflammation usually causes this pain in the pulp of your tooth, which is the soft tissue inside the tooth that contains blood vessels and nerves. If this pulp becomes infected, it can cause a lot of pain.

The pain may go away and come back or be constant. You might also notice that your tooth is sensitive to hot or cold temperatures or has changed color. These are all signs that you may need a root canal. It can be a good idea to see your dentist as soon as possible if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms.

If you don’t get a root canal, the infection could spread, and you might lose your tooth.


A pimple on the gum

Pimples on the gum can signify that you need a root canal. This indicated an abscess or fistula, which is draining pus and bacteria. If the pimple is red and sore, it may be infected. An infection in the gum can damage the tooth and cause an abscess. It’s also a sign of tooth decay.

People usually treat gum pimples lightly, but they can be a sign of a serious dental problem. See your dentist immediately if you have a pimple on your gum. The dentist will determine the cause of the pimple and treat it accordingly. He may recommend a root canal if there is a risk of infection or tooth decay.

Tooth decay

Decaying that has reached your tooth’s pulp will require a root canal. If you delay treatment, an abscess (infection) can form at the root of your tooth, which can cause serious health problems.

Decay can spread quickly, so seeing your dentist at the first sign of a problem is essential.

Deep decay can’t be repaired with a simple filling. When decay reaches your tooth’s pulp (innermost part), the nerve and blood supply are affected. You will likely feel severe pain if the decay is not treated.

Brushing and flossing can’t help once the decay has reached the pulp. A root canal is an effective way to save a tooth with a diseased pulp.


Swollen gums

Swollen gums are a sign of a bigger problem inside your tooth. Swollen gums are usually painful and may bleed when you brush or floss. Inflammation is usually the primary culprit for swollen gums.

A dentist will examine your teeth and gums to look for any sign of infection or inflammation. If you have swollen gums, the dentist may recommend a root canal to remove the inflamed tissue and save your tooth.


Prolonged tooth sensitivity

Sometimes, tooth sensitivity is just a sign that you need to change your toothpaste. But if the pain lingers for more than a week or two, it could indicate an infection in your root canal.

The affected tooth usually hurts when you apply pressure to it, bite it, or eat or drink something hot or cold. The pain may also radiate to your jaw, ear, or neck.

The problem won’t go away on its own, and the only way to get rid of the pain is to have a root canal procedure.


How Long Does A Root Canal Last?

Most root canals last between 10 and 15 years. However, with proper dental care and regular checkups, they can last a lifetime. Root canals are also more likely to fail if you don’t follow through with proper dental care after the procedure. Brush and floss regularly and see your dentist for regular checkups. Contact your dentist immediately if you notice any changes in your teeth or gums.



A root canal treatment is a common procedure used to save a tooth that has been damaged or infected. The procedure is usually not painful and can be completed in one or two visits. After the treatment, your tooth may be sensitive for a short time, but this can be managed with over-the-counter pain medication. It’s essential to keep up with good oral hygiene habits after the procedure to prevent future infections. If you have any questions or concerns, talk to your dentist.


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Editorial Director

Marcus Ramsey has been a professional writer for over seven years. He has talked about and produced content for industries like Dentistry, Healthcare, and more.

Author and Medical Reviewer

Erica Anand is a certified dental expert. She holds a BA in Chemistry and a Doctorate of Dental Surgery from Stony Brook University. After completing a two-year pediatric dentistry program, she now runs a private practice focusing on preventive dentistry and is a member of the American Association of Dental Consultants.

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