So, you’ve just undergone the rather lengthy procedure of a root canal, congratulations! Now comes the fun part – allowing the root canal to heal properly.
One of the main questions people ask after they’ve had the procedure is “can you eat after a root canal?”.
If this is something you’re wondering about, then you’ve come to the right place.
Here is everything you need to know about whether you can eat after a root canal, and when it is safe to eat!
What Is A Root Canal?
Before we dive into the main question, let’s take a look at what a root canal actually is.
Root canals are a procedure that removes the centre of the tooth known as the pulp.
The pulp is soft, made up of connective tissue, blood vessels, and nerves. It is there to help the teeth grow.
However, when the pulp is inflamed or injured, it needs to be removed to protect the structure of the teeth.
Without removing the pulp, the rest of the tooth will begin to decay.
Sometimes it’s not easy to tell when the pulp is dead, because often the crown of the tooth will remain entirely intact while the centre is damaged.
The pulp can be damaged for a variety of reasons, such as a chipped tooth, an injured tooth, an untreated cavity (resulting in decay), or even when a tooth has had multiple procedures.
When the pulp is weakened, it loses its protective barrier, and starts to damage the whole tooth.
The main symptoms of damaged pulp include pain inside the tooth (most prevalent when eating or biting down) and swelling of the gums.
You should visit the dentist to have this area assessed, who will conduct an X-Ray to make a diagnosis.
Root canals are common procedures performed in a dental technician.
Firstly, the area is numbed with numbing cream before local anaesthesia injected into the gum around the tooth.
Patients remain awake during the procedure, but no pain is felt (other than the pinching of the needle).
The tooth is then opened to expose the damaged pulp, and then removed with tools known as files.
They will then clean the pathways or canals to ensure the pulp has gone completely.
The area is then covered in a topical antibiotic and sealed with a sealer paste. Then, you will be sent home.
Can You Eat After A Root Canal?
Yes, you can eat after a root canal, and you don’t even have to wait that long to eat after the procedure.
You just need to wait 30-45 minutes after the procedure to allow enough time for the sealer paste to harden.
However, most dentists recommend waiting until after the anaesthetic has worn off to prevent accidentally biting your tongue or cheek.
After eating, you will be required to thoroughly brush your teeth and pay attention to the area.
This is because the sealer paste that has filled the gap is only temporary, and you don’t want to risk accidentally letting any food sit inside the open wound if the sealer hasn’t hardened properly.
Types Of Food You Can Eat
As with most oral procedures, there is a list of dos and don’ts when it comes to what foods you can eat immediately after your appointment.
Ideally, you’d want to avoid eating hard and chewy foods near the treated area. This can be tricky when you’ve had a root canal on more than one tooth.
Your dentist will most likely recommend eating soft foods to allow your tooth to heal properly.
Plus, your tooth is likely to still feel tender after the root canal (thanks to the infected pulp), so you might want to avoid hard and chewy foods for the sake of your pain tolerance.
Here’s a list of foods that you can eat after having a root canal:
- Soup (not too hot)
- Peanut butter
- Soft cheese
- Smoothies (not too cold)
- Mashed potato
- Baked sweet potato
- Soft bread
Types Of Food You Can’t Eat
Here’s a list of foods you should avoid until your root canal has healed properly:
- Hard foods like nuts, pretzels, and chips
- Chewy foods like meat (particularly red meat), chewy bread, gum, and candy
- Hot drinks and food (coffee, tea, gravy, boiling food)
- Cold drinks and food (iced coffee and tea, ice cream)
When Can I Eat Hard Foods After A Root Canal?
So, we’ve established that you can eat soft foods after a root canal, but when are you allowed to eat hard foods?
The general rule of thumb is to wait until your tooth is no longer painful or uncomfortable after the procedure.
This can take anywhere from 1-3 days depending on the healing process.
Some might even take longer to heal, but if it takes more than 3 days, then it might be worth asking your dentist for advice.
Once your tooth no longer hurts and you feel comfortable eating hard and chewy foods, you can eat whatever you like.
It might be worth eating on the other side of your mouth or avoiding that specific tooth just to ensure the sealer has completely hardened.
Of course, it all depends on your healing process and common sense.
It’s not worth eating your favourite chewy or hard foods just a day after the procedure, because that will risk breaking the sealed area and potentially infecting your tooth.
So, there you have it! Root canals are such a simple procedure that you can typically wait until the anaesthetic has worn off until you can start eating again.
Just make sure you only consume soft foods immediately after the procedure before moving onto hard foods. It all comes down to common sense.
Avoid eating hard foods until your tooth is no longer painful or tender, and make sure to visit your dentist if your tooth continues to feel painful 3 or more days after the procedure.