After Endodontic (Root Canal) Treatment

Swelling and Discomfort:

After the root canal treatment, you may have some swelling and certainly some pain. Typically, this discomfort lasts 24-36 hours and then dissipates. Swelling can be reduced by applying ice to your face in an ice bag or by crushing ice and placing it in a towel. Do not place ice directly onto exposed skin. You should leave the ice on your face for 20 minutes and then remove for 20 minutes. This can be repeated for 4-5 hours. Ice can be applied up to 48 hours after the root canal treatment. Ice will decrease the swelling and thus will decrease the level of pain to some degree. If slight swelling does not decrease after 48 hours or if moderate to severe swelling occurs at all, call the office immediately (978) 664-3141.

Immediately after root canal therapy, the tooth and adjacent supporting tissues may be tender lasting a few days. As well, the tooth will likely be sensitive to biting for a period of 1 week. Aspirin, Tylenol, Advil, or similar over-the-counter medications can relieve this mild discomfort. Occasionally, moderate to severe discomfort may occur. If the doctor anticipates this you will be given a prescription for pain medication (see below). If this severe discomfort has occurred and you did not receive pain medication, please call the office (978) 664-3141.


You may be given medication to prevent or control infection. Use this as directed and continue until the prescription is finished. Caution: Women, if you are taking birth control medication and have been prescribed and antibiotic, it is highly likely that the effectiveness of the birth control medication will be decreased for your entire monthly cycle.

Pain medication will be either narcotic, non-narcotic or both. Narcotic medication can alter your alertness and make you sleepy. You should not drive a car, operate machinery, make personal decisions, drink alcohol or take sedative medications while on these narcotic pain medications. Do not take different medications at the same time. Over the counter medication such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen (Advil) can be taken for mild to moderate pain as directed on the packaging.

The Completed Root Canal:

In order to protect the tooth against fracture during or immediately after the treatment, avoid chewing on the tooth until the final restoration has been placed. Since most root canal treated teeth are highly susceptible to fracture, we recommend that a crown (cap) be placed as the final restoration. This should occur as soon after the procedure as possible. The doctors will establish a time frame for you to complete this at the end of your root canal treatment.


Remember that you have just had a surgical procedure and need to take care of yourself. Rest quietly at home, keeping your head elevated on pillows or sitting in an easy chair. By the next day, most patients resume their normal activities with moderation.

Calling the office:

If you have any problems or questions, or are experiencing anything unexpected during your post root canal treatment period, please call the office or the doctors at home, (978) 664-3141.