Less than a Filling.
July 1, 2009 8:22 PM   Subscribe

How careful do I need to be with eating and brushing around a large temporary filling from a root canal in progress?

Had my first ever root canal today (Yippee!). I had neglected a fractured tooth and then the pain became unbearable in the last week. I don't have a good track record of regular dental visits and it'd been a while. The dentist was great when I went in yesterday to get it examined. He said there was an infection and I needed to get it taken care of ASAP, so he got me in today to start the root canal. I will be going back for a second visit to finish the process.

The procedure itself was intense as I didn't know what to expect and the infection was, apparently, pretty bad. I left in a daze with a numb face and a prescription for Vicoden and without much instruction from the Dentist on caring for the large temporary filling.

So my question is, should I avoid chewing on that side of my mouth? If so, for how long? (I won't be going back for three weeks due to the Doc going on vacation) Can I brush like normal and use mouthwash? What other precautions should I take, if any?

(Tooth in question is my second molar on the bottom right)
posted by I, Slobot to Health & Fitness (9 answers total)
Best answer: Temporary crowns and fillings are pretty strong. You can do anything you would normally do -- chew, brush, floss. You just want to be careful you don't do anything like bite down very hard on a piece of bone or popcorn kernel. The material is a plastic composite that hardens in minutes so by the time you get home you should be fine to chew, but wait until the anesthetic wears off so you don't bite down on something hard unintentionally. A temporary filling or crown can last up to a few months but it is better to get them replaced as soon as possible to prevent leakage that can cause re-infection.
posted by JackFlash at 8:35 PM on July 1, 2009

Take some care eating easily compacted foods such as bread or chips: I had a root-caneled tooth snap in half while eating tortilla chips: chips packed into the cup of the molar on top of the temp filling while I chewed. Not a fun thing and the tooth wasn't salvageable.
posted by jamaro at 8:48 PM on July 1, 2009

Brush and mouthwash as usual, you'll be fine. Try and avoid any direct mashing of hard substances or anything that will create a suction effect (like a lot of peanut butter or a Starburst) with that tooth or that back right of your mouth, although it's not the end of the world if you do.

Temp filling on root canals are meant to hold well, but it's all up to the integrity of the tooth itself. Most likely you'll be fine. I'm currently in possession of a temp filling that's lasted for several months, through no fault of the dentist, and while I'm careful with chewing on that side, it doesn't impede my usual eating habits.
posted by greenland at 9:03 PM on July 1, 2009

I've had two giant temporary fillings (from root canals) in my back molars for something like 5 years now. I didn't get the crowns originally because I was going to get some orthodontics, then that never happened, and after that, well, I just never got around to fixing them up. They haven't caused me the slightest bit of grief -- to be honest, I haven't even thought about them in a while until now.

While I wouldn't recommend waiting that long, 3 weeks is nothing. Hell, I was going to have braces for *years* with these temporary fillings (no sense putting in crowns if the tooth is going to move), with both my dentist and ortho on board. You'll be fine -- just don't do anything stupid.
posted by cgg at 9:33 PM on July 1, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the helpful tips and shared experiences!
posted by I, Slobot at 10:04 PM on July 1, 2009

It's true, they actually last for years. Which I'm sure they wouldn't necessarily tell you, because then you might defer getting the crown...
posted by markjamesmurphy at 10:53 PM on July 1, 2009

actually, I have a temporary filling that I never got capped on the dentist's advice (he's all about cost-benefit). He said that they do last for years, and he'd just check it at my 6 month checkups. It's been fine to chew on for the last 7 or 8 years.
posted by gaspode at 4:32 AM on July 2, 2009

Try to avoid chewing hard or crunchy things. I've had my share of root canals, and while I left one temporary filling for two years before having a crown put on, the other two temporary fillings developed problems and had to be reworked within a week (different dentists). I think it's pretty individual to the person, the tooth in question, and the foods you're likely to be eating.

Also, start flossing, but don't floss around the temporary crown. They WILL pop off with very little pressure.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 6:28 AM on July 2, 2009

I was told to avoid gum, though in retrospect that seems dumb - gum doesn't really stick to teeth. I would avoid really sticky things like caramel - that has a much greater likelihood of actually pulling the temp filling out.
posted by insectosaurus at 1:22 PM on July 2, 2009

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