A root canal, also known as an endodontic treatment, involves removing infected, inflamed, or injured pulp inside your tooth and repairing your tooth to prevent further damage. Caring for your teeth after a root canal often includes a follow-up visit with your dentist and regular brushing and flossing.
But what about eating after a root canal? After many types of restorative dental treatments, it’s crucial to properly care for your teeth and choose the right foods to aid your recovery. When the numbing has worn off after a root canal, eating soft foods can help support your recovery, especially when your teeth are sensitive.
What Is a Root Canal?
A root canal is a dental procedure performed by your dentist to treat a tooth that has become severely infected or damaged. The goals of a root canal are eliminating infection, relieving pain, and saving your tooth from extraction.
A root canal typically involves several steps, including:
- Removing the infected or injured pulp (soft tissue) from inside the tooth
- Cleaning and disinfecting the tooth
- Shaping the tooth
- Filling the tooth
- Sealing the tooth
Damage to your tooth’s pulp can be caused by:
- Deep decay from an untreated cavity
- Repeated dental procedures on the same tooth
- A chip or crack in the tooth
- An injury or trauma to the tooth
The signs you may have a tooth infection or need a root canal can include the following:
- Pain in your tooth
- Swelling in your gums
- A sensation of heat in your gums
- Sensitivity to heat and cold
- Tooth discolouration
- Discomfort when eating
- A loose tooth
How Does a Root Canal Procedure Work?
Your dentist will often first check your tooth and may take an x-ray to confirm you have infected or injured pulp before recommending a root canal based on the results of their examination.
During the actual procedure, your dentist will first administer local anesthesia to numb the area around the affected tooth. They will then create a small access hole in the tooth to reach the pulp and canals or pathways in your tooth. They then carefully remove the infected pulp with special tools and enlarge the root canal system.
After the canals are cleaned and disinfected, your dentist will typically use a temporary or permanent filling and seal the opening to prevent bacteria from re-entering and causing reinfection.
Once the root canal procedure is complete, your tooth pain and sensitivity may decrease. However, the tooth structure can weaken over time, so a crown may be placed over the tooth to provide additional support and protection. By preserving your tooth, a root canal can help maintain proper chewing function and the natural appearance of your smile.
Maintaining good oral hygiene, including regular brushing, flossing, and routine dental visits, can help support the long-term success of your root canal treatment.
What Can You Eat After a Root Canal?
It’s important to follow your dentist’s instructions for post-treatment care and attend any recommended follow-up appointments. After your procedure, your dentist will typically advise you to wait until after the numbness wears off and the feeling in your teeth and gums returns before eating.
Dentists usually recommend eating soft foods after a root canal. Your dentist may also recommend you avoid chewing with the affected tooth until you have a permanent filling or crown.
Sweet soft foods you can eat may include:
- Frozen yogurt
- Peanut butter
- Pudding or flan
Savoury soft foods you can eat may include:
- Cooked vegetables
- Mashed potatoes
- Scrambled eggs
- Soft bread
- Soft cheese
Which Foods Should You Avoid After a Root Canal?
If you have a temporary crown after your root canal, avoid eating hard, crunchy, and sticky foods that can potentially damage your tooth or irritate your gums, such as:
- Nuts and seeds
- Candies, gum, and caramels
Immediately after some dental procedures, you can experience some tooth sensitivity. For this reason, you should avoid extreme temperatures, such as very cold or hot foods and drinks. During your follow-up appointment, your dentist can answer your questions about when you can return to your routine diet.
Root Canal Aftercare
While avoiding certain foods, drinks, and extreme temperatures can be beneficial, you should also continue with good oral hygiene habits. These can include regular brushing and flossing, with care around sensitive areas.
It’s normal to have some discomfort or inflammation. To reduce these sensations, you can gargle with salt and water 3 times a day by mixing half a teaspoon of salt in warm water. If your dentist prescribes antibiotics to prevent infection, take them as instructed.
If you experience severe pain, swelling, fever, or any other concerns after a root canal, contact your dentist promptly, as these may require attention. You should also contact your dentist if your temporary crown or filling is loose or comes out or your bite feels uneven.
Restoring & Protecting Your Teeth in Calgary
Eating the right foods can be crucial for a speedy recovery, such as soft foods that are easy to consume and don’t cause more damage to your teeth after a root canal.
Decay can affect your whole tooth, on the surface and inside. To protect your teeth and smile, book an appointment with Rockwood Dental for an examination and assessment of your teeth. We can answer all your questions about root canals and many other dental procedures.