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What can I eat or drink after root canal treatment?

After a lengthy root canal treatment many patients may feel hungry or thirsty or in need of tea or a coffee. But before you go out to “refuel”, here are some things to consider…

What can I eat or drink immediately after my root canal treatment?

The main consideration here is the fact that your mouth will be numb. The numbness, from anaesthesia, will vary from one person to another, both in duration and in the area affected. Most likely you will notice not only that your tooth is numb but also that your lip, gum, cheek and/or tongue may be numb. Hence you will need to be very careful when eating and drinking so that you don’t accidentally injure yourself – by, for example, accidentally biting or burning yourself.

The rule of thumb when consuming food or drinks immediately after root canal therapy is to do so with caution. In other words:

  • eat on the side opposite the treatment – ie the side that is not numb
  • eat only soft foods that don’t require a lot of chewing
  • eat slowly
  • avoid very hot foods and drinks such as hot soup or hot tea or coffee.

Some people choose to avoid food and drinks altogether, with the exception of cold water, while their mouth feels numb. However, this may not the best approach as any significant decrease in your blood sugar levels may in fact make you feel sick (a very important issue for diabetics especially). Ask your treating dentist or endodontist for some guidelines specifically related to you and your case.

What can I eat or drink in between my root canal appointments?

Most root canal treatments are not completed within one appointment. Usually the exposed and treated root canal will be protected with a temporary filling until such time as a permanent restoration (a crown or an onlay) have been prepared and placed. During this time the temporary filling needs to be treated with care, so you shouldn’t use that tooth to chew on very hard foods. Accidents do happen, however; if your root-treated tooth or temporary filling has chipped, please notify your dentist or endodontist immediately. A chipped tooth or temporary filling that is left unattended may lead to infection of the root canal.

Sometimes teeth are a little tender once the numbness has worn off after root canal treatment. If this applies to you, we recommend that you not use this tooth for chewing until the tenderness has settled. If necessary, take any pain medication that has been suggested by your dental practitioner. Inflammation should decrease faster if you avoid biting with the tooth in question.

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