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Need a Root Canal After Crown was Done



Dec 21, 2010
After the permanent crown was put in, I thought that was it. No more problems with that tooth. Now I find out today I need a root canal. :( I've got an appointment for an endodontist on Wednesday. This is happening so fast! And of course I just had to google root canals...now am more terrified after reading other people's stories about pain from the procedure.

Please someone tell me it's going to be okay. My young daughter had a pulpetomy (sp?) once and it was a simple painless procedure. Tell me an adult root canal isn't much different.

This isn't how I imagined my birthday would go today. :cry:
Happy birthday jaime!!!:dance2:

But yes, a pretty crummy way to spend one. Sorry.

That said, root canal treatment is nowhere near as terrible as its reputation. It's almost always completely painless, takes about an hour and a half, and for the most part is very quiet and peaceful, believe it or not. Many people say they prefer RCT because it's less drilling-- I agree with them.

Check out my post on root canal therapy for lots of positive stories from people who like me were scared to death to hear those three words, and found out the truth: RCT is painless, easy, and not all that big a deal.

(There's a post near the top of the support forum called "Root Canal Pain...". In case you read that one, there is a very small percentage of root canals where the tooth is significantly inflamed and can't get numb. It's almost never like this, and I think with an endodontist it's even more rare. The worst case, though, and I've lived through one, is that the dentist will administer local anesthetic right onto the tooth to kill the pain. This hurts quite a bit for about a second or two, and then it's numb city. You shouldn't have to experience this, but I think literally two seconds of pain is the absolute worst case, and stil very rare. So try not to focus on stories like this.)

I've had 2 root canals and 2 crowns (same 2 teeth -- with one tooth having a root canal before the crown and the other after). I can honestly say that the 2 root canals have been far easier than either of the crown preparations. I am one of those difficult-to-get-numb people. While I was never completely numb for the crown preparations, I was able to get profoundly numb for the 2 root canals. I was really worried both times that I would not be able to be sufficiently numb. The first endodontist assured me that they have "special tricks" that regular dentists done have -- he was totally right. Both root canals required an injection right into the tooth -- which I was terrified of, but knew that I would likely need give how difficult it is for me to get numb. The injection into the tooth was no more painful than a mosquito bite -- really. For me, the root canals were also easier b/c there is no messing around with the gums like with a crown preparation. There was also a lot less "turn your head this way or that" so I was able to be a lot more zoned out. Finally, unlike with the crown preparation, I was discomfort-free less than 24hrs after the procedure. After the first one, I was pain free almost immediately -- after 2 weeks of agony -- I remember getting takeout afterwards and eating the first good meal I'd had in weeks.

I know that a root canal sounds scary, but, at least for me, it's easier than most other dental procedures.

Best of luck -- I'll be sending good thoughts your way on Wednesday (and wishing you a happy birthday as well!).
Steve, that thread on RCT alleviates some of my fear; thanks. It sounds like I may need to have the RCT done in two visits. I have a nice sized infected bump on the very top of my gum above the crowned tooth. It's been pretty much painless the past 3 weeks it's been there. I was so hoping that the infection was due to some sinus problems I've been having and that it would go away on its own.

I'm still trying to work the nerve up to read that post on root canal pain. :) After reading such a positive thread, the scaredy cat part of me wants to pretend RCT is all lollipops and roses.
Fearful, please do send those good thoughts my way on Wednesday! I totally appreciate it. :)

I'm not looking forward to getting the numbing shot either, but I think the thought of the dam inside my mouth scares me even more. Hopefully it's a small one and doesn't go far back enough to bring on the gag reflex.

Probably no need to read the post on root canal pain -- better to stick with positive thoughts. The dam is not bad -- it goes over the tooth they are working on, but the rest stays outside of your mouth. I'm pretty sure they are all a standard size, but like I said, they don't really put it in your mouth -- just over the tooth and then over the outside of your mouth. I actually find it easier to swallow and breath with it than without it -- I think a number of folks on this forum have said this too. If they are working on a molar, you can also ask if they can give you something to bite on to prop your mouth open -- not everyone finds these comfortable. For me, it was a lot easier than having to focus on holding my mouth open for that long.

Here's a link to info on the rubber dam:

The Dental Dam
They gave me a prop when ingot my tooth extracted and i liked it. Im going to ask for one Thursday for my filling since it will take an hour. Id rather not have to hold my mouth open.
I'm still trying to work the nerve up to read that post on root canal pain. :) After reading such a positive thread, the scaredy cat part of me wants to pretend RCT is all lollipops and roses.

Then don't read it! I just wanted to mention it in case you did read it. Stick with the positive stories on this thread and the one I linked. Some people (like me) tend to search out the worst case scenario and focus on that, even when 99.999% of the time everything goes perfectly, so I wanted to mention it in case you were one of those. 99.999% (okay, I made that up, but the vast majority) of root canal procedures are quick, painless, and successful. And, the bulk of the work is in properly cleaning out the canals, which happens after the nerves are removed. So even when there's "complications", these usually just involve the dentist having to take a little more time, but no pain on your part.

RCT really is all lollipops and roses! Well, maybe anchovies and daisies. If you want to inform yourself on what RCT will be like, there's a safe, non-threatening, non-graphic article here on this site:

This person's description of RCT is right on with the ones I've had: "However, at one point, I was so relaxed that I found myself beginning to nod off." That may sound unbelievable but I have actually fallen asleep during RCT, it's so quiet and gentle.
Thanks for the added links and advice. I'm off to the endo in a few hours and am hoping the abscess doesn't interfere with the numbing process. Also hoping the procedure is not too long. My jaw gets so sore being open for a long time. I'll have to ask about that mouth prop thing.
Just got back from the endodontist. Found out I'm all out of insurance coverage until January. :o He was nice enough to start now and wait until my last appointment in January to bill the insurance company. That'll save me $500, so I'm very grateful. But this means I have to go back every 6 weeks to get the temporary filling taken out and new medicine put in. And I can't chew on that side of my mouth until January.

The endo didn't give me antibiotics since I'm allergic to the top two he wanted to give me. It's a wait-and-see if the swelling goes down before he'll give antibiotics. The root canal procedure was pretty easy, like getting a big filling. The hardest part was keeping my mouth open, really. There were a few times when the filing hit a live nerve or something and I had some brief ouchiness, but I learned a long time ago during other dental work to slowly breathe out during what I think will be the worst parts of the procedure. Something about breathing out that lessens the pain. (And breathing in during a painful part will make the pain worse. I don't understand it, but it's how it goes with my body. :))
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Congrats on getting through it!!! The breathing things works for me too -- there is a physiological reason for it. Gotta love US dental 'insurance' and their annual maximums -- almost makes it not work it. Good luck with the remaining appointments!