5 Tips for Preparing for Your Root Canal Treatment

Want help in Preparing for Your Root Canal Treatment?  Well it just happens to be that time of year again!  You know it, the one your have been looking forward to like the arrival of gifts under the tree.  You guessed it, it is Root Canal Awareness Week.  This gives us the opportunity to reflect or possibly look forward to this dreaded procedure with eager anticipation.  If you or someone you know has had a root canal, you know that there is a large variety of reactions to root canal treatment.  Some people and I feel most people have no problem with a root canal.  But there are others who shiver when thoughts of their root canal treatment is brought up.  So, I want to give you (the patient) 5 tips on how you can possibly make your root canal treatment an experience that might be more enjoyable.

1.  Ask your Dentist if an Antibiotic is needed.  Many times a root canal is needed because there is a persistent infection around the tooth or tooth roots.  When an antibiotic is used in these cases it can help chemically get rid of bacteria that is causing the infection.  This will not only reduce the infection, but can also help reduce possible swelling and improve healing after having the root canal.  Now it is important that you know what antibiotics you can take because many people have severe allergies to certain antibiotics.  If you feel that you might require an antibiotic be sure to ask your treating Dentist.

2.  Take a Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory (NSAID).  Ibuprofen and Naproxen are two of the most common Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories and when taken can greatly reduce pain and swelling.  I recommend that you being taking a NSAID a few days prior to having the root canal treatment and then continuing to take it after the procedure is completed.  You can even take it with pain medication that is prescribed by the Dentist like Vicodin or Percocet.  It is important to consult your Dentist prior to deciding to take these medications as certain medical conditions my prohibit you from taking them.

3.  Get a Goodnight Sleep Prior to Your Root Canal Appointment.  I certainly recommend to all my patients regardless of dental treatment to get a goodnight sleep.  This will help reduce anxiety and improve the patient’s overall well being.  Many patients require or want additional sedation to reduce their anxiety.  Such options are available depending on the Dentist.  Some will simply offer Nitrous Oxide or Laughing Gas which is usually sufficient for most patients.  Others might require a form of Conscious Sedation which might make the drowsy or even sleep during the appointment.  More uncommon is IV Sedation, but is available in certain circumstances.  Being well rested the night before your appointment will greatly improve your emotional response to treatment and your ability to think and react clearly.

4.  Eat a Good Meal Before Your Dental Appointment.  Before any dental procedure and in particular a root canal treatment is important to eat a good healthy meal.  Many times root canal procedures can take anywhere from one hour to possible three hours.  Eating a good meal prior to the appointment will ensure that you won’t be bothered by an upset or hungry stomach.  Also most of the time having a root canal will require that your are numb quite possibly feeling all over your mouth and for a long period of time.  That means being able to eat after the procedure might be difficult if not impossible.  Eating a good meal one hour before your appointment will help you feel more comfortable during and after your root canal procedure.

5.  Follow Up with Your Dentist To Have Proper Restorative Work Completed on the Tooth.  Many General Dentist refer root canals to a specialist called an Endodontist.  They are dentist who have been trained specifically to perform difficult root canal treatments.  It is extremely important that after you have seen the Endodontist or even the General Dentist for your root canal that you follow that appointment up with an another appointment to have the final restorative work on that tooth.  Many times and especially if it is a back tooth, it will require a crown.  This will ensure that that tooth will not fracture and be able to withstand the forces that are placed on it when eating.  Sometimes a simple filling might only be required, but it is important that you follow your root canal appointment with one to protect your tooth.

Now that I have given you 5 tips to make your root canal experience more tolerable.  Make sure to schedule that much needed procedure and to not procrastinate as it will only get worse…I promise.  Also on this important week when we reflect on the importance of root canals, let’s not forget that just centuries ago the only option for a toothache was to take the darn thing out.  Fortunately today with the technology, materials and knowledge that exist we can actually save these teeth.

For your next dental appointment contact TenderCare Dental in Tigard, Oregon at 503-670-7088 or visit us at

This post was written by Dr. Justin Marostica