A root canal sounds like a major procedure. After all, the tooth's nerve is being totally removed. What sort of recovery time is needed, and will you need to arrange for time off work or school?
Minor and Routine
Although root canal therapy sounds like a major procedure, it's fairly minor and extremely routine. The most invasive part of the process is when you receive a local anesthetic, resulting in a brief instant of discomfort as the injection is administered. This is typically a type of procaine (known as novocaine). Your jaw will quickly become numb, and the subsequent procedure will be painless.
Your tooth's nerve must be removed because it's necrotic (dead). This is typically due to a bacterial infection caused by untreated tooth decay which has worked its way through to the center of the tooth. At the tooth's center is the pulp chamber, where the dental pulp (which is another name for the tooth's nerve) is found. The resulting infection caused the pulp to become inflamed, triggering the toothache that may have compelled you to seek treatment.
Halting the Infection
When pulp necrosis has occurred, outright removal of the affected pulp is needed to halt the infection and prevent it from spreading to neighboring teeth and nearby periodontal tissues. The tooth is opened and the necrotic pulp tissue inside is gently extracted. The empty chamber is thoroughly cleaned before it is filled with dental latex (because an empty pulp chamber would irreparably weaken the tooth), and the tooth is then closed. There'll be some minor discomfort as the local anesthetic wears off, but this won't be significant.
Once this anesthetic wears off, you can transition to over-the-counter pain medication. Take as needed while remaining within the recommended dosage. Any lingering discomfort will be minimal and will subside in the coming days. You may want to avoid hard, chewy foods until your tooth feels back to normal. Other than these minor caveats, you don't need to be too concerned about recovery. You can go straight back to work or school.
The tooth may only be closed with a temporary filling in the first instance because your dentist will want to arrange a follow-up appointment at a later stage. This second appointment allows time to ensure that all necrotic pulp tissues have been accounted for, and the tooth can then receive a permanent filling, and possibly a crown.
You shouldn't need to arrange any time off for this recovery, and aside from some minor discomfort, things should be back to business as usual more-or-less as soon as you leave the dental clinic.
Contact a local dentist to learn more about root canals.
Up until a year ago, I did my best to keep my teeth and gums clean. But after securing a new job, I began to work late into the night and didn't have the time or energy to brush and floss before I retired to bed. My busy schedule and poor dental hygiene finally affected my teeth and gums. After experiencing severe pain in several of my teeth, I made an appointment with my dentist. My dentist examined my mouth and discovered three large cavities in my molars. After four long weeks, my dentist finally completed my dental work. I learned a very painful lesson during that time. No matter how busy you are, always brush and floss. I started this blog to inform other people about the importance of good dental care. I hope you find the time to read it. Thanks for visiting.