Root Canal Recovery: What to Expect

If you are one of the millions of people who have to undergo a root canal, you may be wondering how long it will take for you to recover. Pain is an unfortunate consequence of root canal treatment, and it is normal to feel some discomfort during the recovery period. Typically, all patients will feel some amount of pain within the first 24-48 hours of receiving a root canal. Afterwards, it is still completely normal to feel some level of pain during the first seven days following surgery. It can be a bit daunting, but with proper care, root canal recovery can be super easy! In this article, we will discuss what to expect during root canal recovery and how long it typically takes for patients to feel better.

What is a Root Canal?

A root canal is a procedure that involves removing the soft inner tissue of the root canal, which is called the pulp. This procedure helps to relieve pain caused by infection or inflammation that has affected the root of the tooth. These are most likely caused when a cavity has broken through the enamel, the outer layer of your tooth, and reached the pulp.

During a root canal, your dentist will use a drill to access the infected pulp. They will then clean out your pulp with a special instrument. Once the area is free of infection, your dentist will fill the root canal with a special material, such as gutta-percha. This helps to protect your root and root canals from any further infection. Finally, your dentist will place a crown or cap over the area to protect it (although there are cases where root canals are done without a crown).

Root Canal Recovery Time

The root canal recovery time varies from patient to patient, with most patients experiencing a mild level of pain and discomfort in the first 24 hours immediately following root canal treatment. The most pain patients feel will be within the first day, and you should start to feel better within the next few days. Generally, root canal recovery takes anywhere from one day to one week after surgery. If pain continues for more than a week after root canal treatment, it is important to contact your dentist. Some factors that affect the level of pain that patients feel include:

The Root Canal Technique Used

The root canal technique used by your dentist can have an impact on root canal recovery time. For example, some research has shown that the technique used to fill root canals after cleaning out the pulp affects the root canal recovery process.

Similarly, the technique that dentists use for root canal treatment can also affect root canal recovery time.

Eating and Brushing Teeth

Although you absolutely should be brushing your teeth the day after a root canal, and eating is also completely okay after your tooth is no longer numb, it is important to be aware of how your body and teeth react. Putting pressure on the tooth with your root canals while eating or brushing might cause some pain, which is normal.

If you experience any pain when eating or brushing, it is completely okay to take it slow. Responding to your body’s cues is the best way to make sure that root canal recovery is as easy and pain-free as possible.

Managing Pain

If you are in pain after root canal surgery, there are a few things that you can do to manage it.

  • Take Pain Medication: Over-the-counter pain medications can help provide relief and reduce inflammation. Good examples of these include Tylenol or ibuprofen.
  • Apply Cold Compresses: Cold compresses can help reduce swelling and pain in the root canal area. Simply wrap an ice pack in a towel and apply it to the side of your face for several minutes at a time.
  • Get Lots of Sleep: Giving your body and tooth the rest it needs is key for root canal recovery. Make sure to get plenty of rest to allow your root canals time to heal
  • Eat Lots of Food: Eating foods that are nutritious is essential to the healing process. If you are experiencing pain while eating, try eating foods that are soft and easy to chew (such as mashed potatoes or yogurt) will help reduce pain while your root canals heal.

Never be afraid to contact your dentist after a root canal is done if you are concerned about something. Your dentist will be able to provide advice and help you manage any root canal recovery concerns. As a general rule of thumb, if you continue to experience any of the following, contact your dentist:

  • You experience pain, swelling, or discomfort that lasts longer than one week
  • Your bite seems uncomfortable
  • If a temporary filling falls out
  • If you experience any signs of infection (such as a fever or severe pain) after root canal surgery


The contents of this website, such as text, graphics, images, and other material are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be substituted for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Nothing on this website constitutes the practice of medicine, law or any other regulated profession.

No two mouths are the same, and each oral situation is unique. As such, it isn’t possible to give comprehensive advice or diagnose oral conditions based on articles alone. The best way to ensure you’re getting the best dental care possible is to visit a dentist in person for an examination and consultation.


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