What medications will I need for a root canal?

Excellent question. As previously mentioned by my colleague, you may be prescribed an antibiotic before and/or after the root canal is performed. In my professional opinion, this doesn't always have to be prescribed, and I do not routinely prescribe antibiotics before and/or after procedure. I base this decision usually if a patient presents with either pre-op intraoral swelling, abscesses, poor oral hygiene, etc. (Or, while performing procedure if there is mild pustulent drainage, presence of infected tissue.)  

Furthermore, I do advise patients to take at least a 600 mg dose of a non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen (ex. Motrin, Advil) within 4 hours after the root canal is performed (not to exceed 800 mg.) It may be necessary to prescribe a pain medication for moderate or even severe pain. What I've found (and been taught) to be quite successful is to take 400-600 mg ibuprofen 1 hour BEFORE a root canal is performed. Many of my colleagues find this to decrease post-op pain and discomfort.

Some great websites that could help guide you are (association of root canal specialists),, and

Thank you for your question; Hope this helps!
Depends on the situation but anti-inflammatories are usually needed. Antibiotics tend to be over-prescribed but may also be needed depending on the pathogenicity.

A dentist will determine the need for any medications depending on the state of the tooth and the patient’s medical history. The two most common types of medications prescribed are antibiotics and pain/anti-inflammatory medications. Talk to your dentist before the procedure is done to see if you will need any medications.  

A dentist may prescribe antibiotics before a root canal procedure to improve the chances of a successful outcome. Antibiotics are usually continued after the procedure as well. The dentist may also recommend the use of a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine like ibuprofen or naproxen (available over the counter), or oxaprozin or ketoralac (prescription only) after the procedure. This can reduce inflammation and improve healing. In some cases, the dentist may prescribe a codeine type of pain reliever to be used short-term.

For most root canals only a local anesthetic is needed to numb the tooth. Anxious individuals may be given a tranquilizer prior to treatment. If there is a lot of infection, an antibiotic may be prescribed. Generally ibuprofen or tylenol is all that is needed after a root canal. For more involved root canal procedures your dentist may prescribe a pain medicine.

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