Can You Brush After Root Canal

This blog post will address the topic, “can you brush after root canal” and cover topics like what is root canal treatment, when do you need it, care after root canal treatment, root canal failure, how to know if your root canal has failed, necessary steps to take after root canal failure, risks associated with root canal failure and ways to prevent the need of root canal.

Can You Brush After Root Canal

Brushing twice a day, flossing once daily and rinsing with antimicrobial mouthwash occasionally is essential to maintain good oral hygiene after root canal and prevent further cavities.

It is therefore advised to start following normal oral hygiene routine soon after the numbness of anesthetic subsides.

However, make sure not to brush too vigorously or with extra pressure as it may cause temporary filling to fall out and may even aggravate the sensitivity after root canal.

Root canal: Everything You Need To Know

What Is A Root Canal?

A root canal treatment is an endodontic procedure in which the infected pulp is removed and the tooth is disinfected and cleaned completely to remove all the debris and infection remnants.

It is a painless procedure similar to a filling and is done by an endodontist.

The entire procedure of root canal may take one or two appointments. The number of appointments depend on the tooth condition and personal preference.

Overall, the root canal therapy involves three major steps called as the endodontic triad:

  • Biomechanical preparation–includes drilling of the tooth crown in a proper manner to gain access to the tooth pulp cavity.
  • Microbial control–complete removal of the infected pulp tissues.
  • Obturation of the canal–includes filling and sealing the tooth with tooth filling material and assuring no micro-leakage.

When Do You Need A Root Canal?

Root canal is needed when you develop sensitivity and pain in the tooth due to a cavity or tooth fracture or due to any infection of the pulp.

You may need a root canal if you experience any one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Sensitivity of the tooth while eating or drinking something hot and cold
  • Tooth cavity and decay that has reached the pulp
  • Accidental chipping off your enamel and nerves are exposed
  • Cracked Tooth or injured tooth
  • Gingival swelling or tenderness of the gums

These symptoms might alarm you and you must visit your dentist. Your dentist will advise you for an X-ray after which the diagnosis will be confirmed.

After the root canal is confirmed, your dentist may refer you to an endodontist for the treatment.

Care After Root Canal?

Care After First Appointment Of Root Canal 

After the first appointment of root canal, your endodontist might have restored the tooth with a temporary filling which needs care to avoid any damage or fall out.

Care While Eating And Drinking

  1. Chew on the opposite side of the new filling with minimum pressure
  1. Eat Soft Foods as hard food puts a lot of pressure on the teeth surface causing discomfort to increase.
  1. Do not eat foods that are sticky in nature as it may stick to your new filling and dislodge it. This mostly happens with amalgam fillings.
  1. Eat slowly as this will put less pressure on the tooth and relieve the discomfort.
  1. Do not eat or drink anything that might trigger tooth sensitivity. Too hot, too cold or sugar rich foods and drinks must be kept away from your palate.

Care While Brushing

  1. Make sure to be gentle and slow while brushing after a temporary filling.
  1. Vigorous brushing and using extra force unknowingly will cause the temporary filling to fall out.
  1. Choice of soft bristled toothbrush is favoured for brushing the temporary filling without causing any damage to it or weakening it.
  1. You must also consider the time while brushing and should not over-brush. 

Care While Flossing

  1. Flossing may damage and rip out a temporary filling.
  1. Flossing must be done gently and vigorous action should be avoided.
  1. Temporary fillings most commonly damage or fall out due to improper and non-gentle flossing.
  1. Avoid flossing if you have temporary filling placed in space between your teeth.

Even after a week, if the symptoms persist, call your dentist or an endodontist as your root canal might still contain some infected pulp tissue or there may be some other complication that needs to be resolved.

If everything is ok and your teeth feel alright, you’ll see your regular dentist within a few days of the root canal. They’ll take X-rays to make sure that any infection is gone. They’ll also replace the temporary filling with a permanent filling.

Ideally, after permanent filling, for a root canal to get complete, the dentist may recommend a crown for your tooth. It is up to your preference if you want a crown or not. 

Crowns resemble your tooth in appearance and add a realistic and an esthetic look. 

Care After Root Canal Treatment Is Complete

After your final treatment, your restored tooth should no longer be painful, although it may feel sensitive for a few days.

It is very important for you to maintain good oral hygiene and continue brushing teeth two times in a day along with flossing and occasional mouthwash.

Failure to brush after root canal may again cause poor oral hygiene resulting in cavities and decay.

Can The Root Canal Fail?

According to a published study, root canal treatment has a success rate of 86-98%.

The same study enumerates some common factors responsible for the failure of root canal:

  • Improper or poor access cavity design.
  • Incomplete removal of the infected pulp tissue.
  • Inability to remove the infected remnants and debris.
  • Improper or insufficient disinfection of the root canal.
  • Missing an extra or accessory infected root canal, mostly when there are multiple canals present.
  • Inadequate filling or over-filling of the canal.
  • Inadequate seal that allows micro-leakage and bacterial infection to penetrate the tooth canal again.
  • Crown breakage that allows the filling material to wear off eventually and bacterial penetration again in the cavity.
  • Instrumentation errors like perforation or ledges.

The failure of root canal can occur at any time, may be soon after the treatment or may be years after.

How To Know That My Root Canal Has Failed?

Root canal failure may produce symptoms similar to that you experienced before root canal treatment or may not produce any symptoms at all.

However, the common symptoms of failed root canal treatment are:

  • Pain
  • Sensitivity
  • Swelling in and around tooth 
  • Pus discharge from the tooth
  • Discoloration of the tooth
  • Abscess
  • X-ray irregularities with no above mentioned symptoms

What To Do If The Root Canal Fails?

On failure of a root canal, the following are best alternatives that may be recommended by your dentist:

Root Canal Retreatment

Once it is confirmed that your root canal failure is causing you pain and discomfort, the retreatment process is initiated.

Root canal retreatment involves the following steps which are almost similar to a root canal treatment or a cavity filling process:

  1. A local anesthetic is used in the first step to numb the soft tissues around the tooth that needs retreatment. This is essential to give painless root canal retreatment.
  1. Removal of the crown (if present) of the tooth.
  1. Removal of the permanent filling.
  1. Cleaning the bacteria and other debris remaining in the tooth canal.
  1. Filling the canal and completely sealing it to prevent any type of leakage and bacterial penetration.
  1. Temporary filling is given.
  1. Must return to the dentist when called for a permanent filling and a permanent crown for esthetics.

Endodontic Surgery

X-ray may reveal the infection spreading along the root of the tooth. To resolve such cases, root canal treatment alone can’t be sufficient and therefore your dentist might recommend an endodontic surgery.

The most common endodontic surgery recommended is called apicoectomy or root-end resection.

In apicoectomy, the gingival tissue is removed and the underlying bone is exposed to remove the infection and also the end of the root is removed.

Extraction and Replacement

Extraction of the tooth after root canal failure may be a simple and inexpensive option for you but is not recommended.

It is recommended to save a natural tooth if it can be prevented from a root canal retreatment.

However, if extraction is required then you must replace the missing teeth otherwise it may damage your surrounding teeth and lead to jaw bone loss. 

Risks Associated With Root Canal Failure

If a root canal treatment fails, then you must get it redone. Otherwise, there can be an increased risk of infection that may spread to adjoining teeth and bone leading to tooth abscess and loose tooth.

Pain, sensitivity, infection of jaw bone and systemic infection are some of the risks of untreated root canal failure cases.

Ways To Prevent Tooth Decay To Prevent The Need Of Root Canal

If the cavity is just in its initial stage where the white spot is visible on the tooth, it is the time to take preventive actions such as toothbrushing, mouth washing and flossing daily.

At stage one, when the white spot has just appeared, the cavity can be reversed with proper oral hygiene and eating some mineral and vitamin rich foods.



It is recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA) to  brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time with a toothpaste containing fluoride. 

It is recommended to brush your teeth twice a day, once in the morning, just after waking up and once at night, just before going to bed.

You must also clean your teeth and gums, each time after you have food but not with a toothbrush. Simple rinse with water is considered good for overall oral health and hygiene.

Following this tooth brushing habit will help you prevent cavity formation in the first place and also reverse a small cavity naturally in its earliest stage.

Do Not Immediately Brush after Eating Acidic Foods

You must wait for 30 minutes to one hour after consumption of acidic foods and drinks. The acid in the food or drink otherwise may erode the enamel layer and regular habit may cause exposed dentin leading to pain and sensitivity and increased risk of developing cavities.

Use Gentle and Short Strokes When Brushing Your Teeth

Use gentle, short strokes to brush your front teeth and thoroughly clean your mouth without abrading the enamel and preventing cavities from developing.

Brush the outside surfaces as well as the back molars and upper areas of your chewing surfaces. Brush the inside surfaces of both top and bottom front teeth by flipping your toothbrush upside down.

Brush your tongue to get rid of any bacteria or plaque.

Use a fluoride toothpaste

Fluoride can greatly help achieve oral and dental health by strengthening the tooth enamel, making it more resistant to tooth decay. 

Fluoride reduces the amount of acid produced by the bacteria in your mouth, prevents cavity formation and also helps the cavity in its earliest stage to repair and reverse. 

Floss Daily To Get Maximum Benefits Out Of Tooth Brushing

Many people, despite knowing the benefits of flossing daily, just neglect it.

According to a study, flossing is highly effective in reducing the interproximal caries risk. 

Daily floss can help stimulate your gums and reduce plaque, leading to lesser inflammation risk and increased chances of cavity prevention.

Mouthwash To Prevent Cavities

Therapeutic Mouthwashes contain ADA listed active ingredients such as fluoride, peroxide, essential oils, cetylpyridinium chloride, and chlorhexidine, preventing cavities from forming and naturally healing and reversing the formed cavity in its earliest stage.

Therapeutic mouthwashes, as the name suggests have therapeutic action and control dental conditions like gingivitis, tooth decay and periodontal diseases. They also help remove halitosis.

Consult Your Dentist Twice In A Year

It is important to get your oral health checked twice every year with an interval of 6 months between two visits.

Your dentist can help remove calculus and locate cavities and will also be able to spot potential oral health issues, if any, and offer treatment solutions.

Fluoride treatments initiated in the earliest stages of tooth cavity may help it to reverse and heal.

Eat Foods Rich In Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus And Vitamins To Prevent Cavities

Calcium Rich Foods To Prevent Cavities 

Calcium plays an important role in enamel remineralization and saliva production.

The remineralization process is essential for the cavity to repair naturally and strengthen further to prevent any future formation of cavities.

Optimal saliva production acts as a natural cleanser and prevents plaque accumulation and acts as an adjunct in the process of preventing cavity formation.

All thanks to calcium rich foods like cauliflower, nuts, salmon and figs.

Magnesium Rich Foods To Prevent Cavities 

Magnesium is essential for remineralization of the enamel as well as to maintain a balance of minerals like calcium and phosphorus.

Magnesium deficiency will lead to enamel demineralization and weakening of the enamel, resulting in increased risk of cavity formation.

Leafy green vegetables, avocado and squash seeds are some magnesium rich foods that you can consider.

Phosphorus Rich Foods To Prevent Cavities 

Foods like meat, eggs and dairy products are rich in phosphorus and help in naturally healing the cavity in its earliest stage and also preventing its formation in the first place.

Vitamin D Rich Foods To Prevent Cavities

Vitamin D is essential for calcium and phosphorus absorption in the body and its deficiency eventually wastes the calcium you intake.

Spending a few minutes in the morning sun gives an adequate amount of vitamin D to the body. However, foods like fish and egg yolks are rich vitamin D sources.

According to research, children with vitamin D deficiency had an increased risk of developing enamel defects and tooth fracture.

Study published in the journal of dental research, concluded that vitamin D is essential for lowering the risk of developing caries in children.


This blog post addressed the topic, “can you brush after root canal”. We understood what root canal treatment is, when you need it, care after root canal treatment, root canal failure and how to know if your root canal has failed.

The article outlined necessary steps to take after root canal failure, risks associated with root canal failure and ways to prevent the need of root canal.


When can I brush after root canal?

You can brush only after 2 hours of root canal when the numbness due to local anesthetic ceases.

Once the numbness subsides, you can start brushing, flossing and mouthwash rinsing, as your normal daily oral care routine.

Is the crown necessary after the root canal?

The requirement of the crown depends on the location of the tooth that has undergone a root canal treatment.

Crowns are mostly needed for posterior teeth such as molars and premolars that are involved in chewing.

Incisors and canines are used mostly for tearing and biting and therefore do not necessarily require a crown.

Can you get a crown the same day as root canal?

Yes, you may get a custom crown on the same day in just an hour or two.

The entire procedure of root canal may take one or two appointments. The number of appointments depend on the tooth condition and personal preference.

You can get a crown on the same day if it is a one day root canal appointment.

According to a study published in the journal of clinical pediatric dentistry, multiple appointments and single appointment root canal treatment reported similar success.

How long after a root canal should you get a permanent filling?

In not more than 6 weeks, you will be able to get a permanent filling done.

It is advised to not delay your appointment for permanent filling as it may weaken your temporary filling, cause its fall out and reinfect the canal leading to root canal failure.

What happens if you don’t put a crown on a root canal?

If you do not put a crown on a root canal, your outer tooth structure might damage and expose the root canal.

Other FAQs about Root canal that you may be interested in.

How long after a root canal can you eat

Can You Drink Out Of A Straw After A Root Canal

Can You Eat After A Root Canal Without Crown


What is a Root Canal?

Root Canal. (2018)

Root canal treatment. (2019)

Care After Root Canal Treatment Visits

Caring For Your Temporary Dental Filling

All About Temporary Fillings. (2020)

The Tooth Decay Process: How to Reverse It and Avoid a Cavity. (2018)

Siqueira, J.F., Jr (2001), Aetiology of root canal treatment failure: why well-treated teeth can fail. International Endodontic Journal, 34: 1-10.

Singla, Rajesh et al. “Single Visit versus Multiple Visit Root Canal Therapy.” International journal of clinical pediatric dentistry vol. 1,1 (2008): 17-24. doi:10.5005/jp-journals-10005-1004

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