Post-Op Instructions


In an effort to alleviate the anxiety that often accompanies root canal therapy, we have compiled the following information to help your experience in our office proceed smoothly.


Ordinarily, the treatments are fairly uneventful – similar to having a filling done. You can, however, expect your tooth to be tender for several days afterwards. The discomfort may be due to the irritation produced by the infection that was present in the tooth. Manipulation of the tooth and its supporting tissues during treatment may also produce some mild irritation/bruising. Keeping the following in mind can help the tooth feel better soon:

Avoid chewing on the tooth for the first few days to allow time for healing.

Discomfort can usually be controlled with two Advil (ibuprofen) or Tylenol tablets taken every four to six hours.

Warm salt-water rinses can help speed healing and alleviate discomfort. Heat should not be applied to the outside of the face.

Slight swelling occasionally develops in conjunction with the discomfort. This is generally due to tissue sensitivity and not necessarilyinfection. However, if pain or swelling persists or becomes progressively worse, please call this office for advice or special care.

Typically, your treatment will only require one visit. However, if there are any complications you may be required to come back for another visit to finish the treatment. We may also require a follow up visit for certain patients to ensure that the tooth is healing properly.

After treatment is completed, we place a temporary filling in your tooth. Hard and “seedy” foods (popcorn, carrots, etc.) should be avoided. Should the temporary filling become dislodged, please call our office as soon as possible to have it replaced.

Your cooperation in keeping appointments cannot be overemphasized. Prolonged intervals between treatments may complicate and delay the completion of your case.


At this time, your root canals have been sealed to promote healing. The source of the infection that was present in your tooth has been eliminated and should not recur. It is now up to your body to repair the damage that the original problem produced. Our objective in endodontics is to relieve pain, eliminate infection/pathology in the tooth and surrounding tissues, and to provide a favorable environment for healing. Our treatments are limited to procedures that enable us to achieve these objectives, and, therefore, we do not normally do permanent fillings in our office. Although the canals of your tooth are permanently sealed the crown part is sealed with only a temporary filling. The temporary filling may last several weeks, but it is highly advisable to see your regular dentist as soon as possible so he/she can restore the tooth properly. This is important to protect your root canal filling and your investment. Most endodontically treated teeth will require a prosthetic crown (cap) to protect the tooth that has been weakened by decay or fracture. We will send a report and copies of your x-rays to your dentist for their records (and they will be expecting a call from you, too). After your root canal therapy is completed, we may have you come back for complimentary follow up visits – usually at six- to twelve-month intervals. These are important to evaluate the healing process.


It is normal for blood to seep from the site of a surgical procedure for several hours after the operation. Mouth rinses may stimulate bleeding and should be avoided on the first day. If bleeding continues after that or becomes profuse, try to locate the spot where the blood is coming from by looking in a mirror. Once you have found it, hold a piece of gauze or toweling against the tissue and bone. Apply firm but gentle pressure for 10 minutes without moving the fingers. Do this in a sitting position. If this fails to stop the bleeding, call our office or the after-hours emergency number.

It is normal for a surgical area to swell following an operation. Such swelling may last from a few hours to several days. Following surgery, an ice pack should be applied to the swollen area at 10-minute intervals for the first 6 to 8 hours.

It is normal to experience some pain following surgery. Using the ice pack and taking two Advil (ibuprofen) or Tylenol tablets every four to six hours will help reduce this pain. If further medication is required, please call our office or the after-hours emergency number.

Careful tooth brushing is desirable and promotes healing but, the bristles of the brush should not contact the surgical area. Brush only the teeth and make every effort to avoid the affected gums. Twenty-four hours after surgery you may begin gentle mouth rinsing. The mouth rinse should be used about 60 seconds twice daily for 4-5 days. If a specific mouth rinse was not prescribed, you may choose any of the flavored mouthwashes, but a mild salt-water solution (½ teaspoon table salt to a glass of warm water) is adequate.

Post-operative infection is unusual, but possible. Signs of infection may be increased pain, increased swelling and tenderness, elevated body temperature, chills, and other flu-like symptoms. An objectionable odor and taste may also be experienced. When these conditions exist, begin rinsing the mouth with a very hot salt-water solution and call our office or the after-hours emergency number. If antibiotics were prescribed at the time of surgery they should be started immediately.

It is normal for the patient to experience a loss of appetite following surgery. The teeth may be tender and certain foods may be difficult to chew; however, nourishment must be provided to ensure healing. A high-protein diet as well as two multi-vitamin capsules, taken daily for the first week, will aid in tissue repair. Nourishing foods that require little or no chewing include: liquid protein supplements and diet concentrates, soups, milkshakes, eggs, cereals, fruit salads, and ground beef.

An appointment may have been made for removal of sutures (if not absorbable). If, for any reason, one or more of these sutures loosens and hangs free, the freed string should be trimmed with sharp scissors. If this becomes a problem, call the office.