Deciding what to eat after a root canal treatment is important to avoid complications. You want the most suited to your condition that will not irritate or inflame your tooth or aggravate the situation.
Warning: do not just select any foods or drinks until you have considered the following; post-procedure soreness, the type of foods, and how these foods affect your tooth condition.
Soft foods and drinks of mild temperatures are usually the most recommended after a root canal treatment. Because your teeth and gums are still slightly sore, numb, and easily irritated after your dental appointment, you need to be extra careful to avoid complications.
What Is A Root Canal?
A root canal is a treatment procedure that involves the removal of diseased and infected teeth. It is used to repair damaged teeth.
The tooth is filled with a soft tissue called the pulp. It is beneath the white enamel and dentin. It contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissues which help the growth of your tooth root during its development.
Sometimes your tooth may get cracked, infected, damaged, or diseased from injury, genetics, cavities, or issues from the previous filling. When this happens, more often than not, a root canal treatment is required.
Root canal treatment is a procedure undertaken to rid the infected root canal, pulp or soft inner part of the tooth of bacteria, prevent recurrent infections, and save the tooth.
During this process, the affected pulp is removed, followed by careful cleaning and disinfection of the inside of the tooth. After which, the tooth is filled, sealed, and repaired with a dental crown.
It is usually best to save your natural tooth during root canal because of its many advantages to your teeth, such as natural appearance, normal biting force and sensation, effective chewing, and protection from excess strain.
Sometimes patients find it difficult to determine if their symptoms are linked to a root canal. The most common sign is sensitivity to hot and cold sensations. Others include;
- Severe pain while chewing.
- Chipped or cracked tooth.
- Swollen and tender gums.
- Darkening or decay of gums.
- Lingering hot or cold sensitivity.
When To Eat After A Root Canal Procedure
After a root canal procedure, there is a need to not eat immediately, as this may complicate your condition and cause irritation.
A root canal treatment is usually painful and done under the influence of local anesthetic medications. This helps relieve pain during and after the procedure, but they wear off after a while.
When medications wear off, your mouth and gums may feel numb for the first few hours. This can sometimes make it difficult for you to decide when and what to eat.
It is often recommended that you wait to eat until you no longer feel numb sensations in your tooth and gums.
This is because your teeth, gums, and even your tongue are still somewhat sore, eating immediately might lead to biting your tongue or cheeks.
You may also accidentally burn them, most especially if you can not determine or feel the sensitivity or intensity of your food.
Temporary fillings can also get damaged. A temporary cap is placed over the affected tooth to protect it until the permanent crown is ready.
Foods And Drinks To Eat And Drink After A Root Canal Procedure
Knowing the right meal, snack, or drink to take following a root canal can be a challenging one. This is because your mouth, teeth, and gums are still sore and easily irritated.
Although you are likely to be hungry just after a long dental procedure, it is best to avoid eating or drinking until numbness from the anesthetic completely wears off. You can advance your diet as you notice your teeth and gums become less sore.
Examples of soft foods and drinks include;
- Yogurt, cottage cheese, or soft cheese.
- Fruits and vegetables. Smoothies, bananas, mangos, peaches, avocados, or ripe pears.
- Eggs, tofu, meatloaf, legumes, or canned tuna, or chicken.
- Pasta, oatmeal, couscous, quinoa, or wheat cream.
You may also incorporate the following into your daily routine.
- Scrambled eggs or a smoothie for breakfast.
- Mashed potatoes, meatloaf, or shredded meat. For a filling meal, you may decide to add this to your breakfast or have it separately.
- Pasta, couscous, or noodles is another alternative for substance-filled foods.
- For light food, you may go for saltines or soft bread.
Foods And Drinks To Avoid After A Root Canal
Just as there are soft foods recommended for you after your appointment, there are also categories of foods that are best avoided because they are most likely to exacerbate sensitivity or compromise temporary fillings. You can, however, reintroduce them into your diet after sensitivity subsides. These include;
Foods like candy, gum, caramel, and taffy should be avoided. They can disrupt your recent dental work and pull out temporary crowns.
Peanut brittle, ice cubes, nuts, and candies should not be taken, as they are more likely to chip off your teeth.
Hot or cold foods
While you may enjoy a hot or cold meal at minimal or average intensity. Avoid extremely hot or cold food and drinks. They can irritate your sensitive areas and cause pain. Pending the time your teeth and gums heal, always take food or drinks at a mild temperature.
Other foods are;
Crunchy foods like pretzels, tortilla chips, or other types can cause injuries.
Sticky foods, including steak or crusty bread.
Usually, a temporary crown is placed on the affected area until a permanent one is ready. During this period, refrain from these food types. This can last from a few hours to a day.
Best Aftercare practices
You may experience some post-procedure soreness after a root canal. While this may be uncomfortable, it can be controlled and managed with some over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen.
Besides this, here are some recommendations that should be strictly followed.
Brush your teeth regularly, twice a day to maintain good oral hygiene.
Refrain flossing on the sides of your temporary crown. This can dislodge both the crown and the material it’s made of.
Gargle three times each day with salt and water to reduce inflammation. Mix 1/2 teaspoon of salt in warm water, swish in your mouth for some minutes, and spit it out.
Take prescribed antibiotics regularly and complete your dosage. It reduces the risk of another tooth infection and its recurrence.
Most times, a root canal treatment is not a complicated process, unless you deviate from recommendations given by your dentist. Always adhere to instructions given and contact your dentist or endodontist as soon as you notice debilitating changes.
Eating Guidelines After Treatment
Most people recover from a root canal after a few days, others may experience complications and take a week or two to heal. Although this is most likely in rare cases. Here are some dos and don’ts that can help your healing process.
Pay attention to how you treat your mouth
Pay close attention to your mouth and how it feels before and after your appointment. Although swelling, sensitivity, and mild may occur after a root canal, you can reduce this with an ice pack.
When sleeping, keep your head elevated to avoid aggravation and irritation. Plan your meals carefully and start with soft foods and mild temperatures. If you smoke or vape, refrain from it during this period.
Take time off exercising for the first few days
Exercise is a necessary requirement for a healthy body and overall functionality. However, if you’ve just had mouth surgery or other types, it is best to skip the first few days of exercising. Exercising too soon can open up your wounds and make you bleed. Speak to your dentist about how long you should stay off.
For optimal root canal recovery, get as much rest as needed, but do not oversleep. Oral treatment may make you sore, dizzy, and uncomfortable. Take a few days to relax and recover.
When To Call Your Dentist
Root canal varies for every individual. Some have mild conditions and may not develop side effects, while others experience more severe cases. Note every development during your treatment and healing process. Contact your dentist immediately if you notice any of these;
- A rash, itching, or allergic reactions
- Severe pain and pressure in your mouth and affected areas
- Debilitating swelling along with pain
- Uneven bites
- Temporary filling or crown comes out
- Worsening symptoms
- Constant migraines or headaches
Getting a root canal is as important as knowing when and what to eat during and after the procedure. After treatment practices should be adhered to, in order to avoid repetitive tooth infections.
Your dentist will provide you with instructions to follow your treatment. Ask questions about any concerns you may have before and after your root canal procedure.