A root canal isn't the painful procedure it is reputed to be—instead, the procedure ends the ongoing pain that necessitated the root canal in the first place. Many patients begin to feel better soon after the procedure is finished. The following tips can help you recover quickly from your root canal.

Tip #1: Take Your Medication

You will likely be prescribed antibiotics after a root canal, although in some cases your dentist may have you begin antibiotics a day or two before the procedure. This is for two reasons. First, the root canal is treating an infection in the root of your tooth, so some bacteria may remain present after the procedure. Second, your mouth will be healing afterward, so you don't want to allow any new infections in. Take your antibiotics as directed. Usually you have to finish the whole course for them to be effective.

Tip 2: Take It Easy

Avoid anything that may irritate the affected tooth for a few days after your procedure. Opt for soft foods, such as soups, cooked vegetables, and yogurts, and avoid anything hard, crunchy, or difficult to chew. Avoid participating in any activities, such as sports, that may result in a knock to the tooth. Also, avoid chewing with the affected tooth and be extra gentle when brushing and flossing around it.

Tip #3: Use a Chill Pill

You likely won't be given any prescription painkillers for a root canal, but you can take over-the-counter medications like aspirin or ibuprofen. Take these as directed on the bottle, or as your dentist has directed. These will act as anti-inflammatories so that the swelling and pain will subside.

Tip #4: Avoid Ghost Pain

Sometimes you may continue to feel pain in the tooth even after the root canal, but often this pain is just a side effect of the nerves around the tooth healing. If you feel the pain primarily at night, try sleeping with a night guard to see if that relaxes the jaw and gets rid of the pain. If the pain continues or grows worse, contact your dentist. There may be a secondary infection that requires treatment.

Tip #5: Don't Miss Your Follow-Up Treatment

Your dentist will want to see you again shortly after the root canal. In most cases, you are given a temporary crown to cap the tooth, so you will need to go back to get the permanent crown fitted. Temporary crowns do not fit tightly, so they will eventually fall off and expose the tooth's roots. This can be painful, so you don't want to skip the fitting of the permanent crown. If your dentist fitted a permanent crown at the time of the root canal, you will still need to go back in for a follow-up. This is so the dentist can make sure you are healing and that there are no secondary infections to be concerned about.

Keep these tips in mind to make your root canal recovery as smooth as possible.