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Root canal anesthesia failure?



Junior member
Apr 12, 2021
Conroe, TX, USA
Last week I had a root canal done on tooth 31 by an endodontist. I was quite apprehensive, and asked for oral sedation. For the last two RC's I had, the dentist gave me Ativan, and it worked very well. However, at this dentist they give Triazolam. It had almost no effect on me. I told the dentist this when he came to give me shots. He told me we still had a little while to go, but it didn't make any difference. I had also told him when I went for the consult that anesthetics don't work very well on me, that I always have to have more. He assured me it would be fine. He gave me three or four shots, the last one being, as he explained to a student who was present, into a soft part of bone. When he began working on my tooth, it was fine. There was some sort of post or something in there he had to get out, and that was also OK. When he got it out, some pus and blood poured out. But after that there was a lot of pain every time he touched it. At my first wince he told me it was only a little bit of pressure. (Right. I have heard that one before.) He kept working, and I kept shrieking and trying to stay still. Sometimes the pain was so bad I was beating on the arm of the chair. He never stopped to ask if I needed a break, or even if I was OK. I was in tears under the dam and the sunglasses. If I could have spoken I would have begged him to stop. At one point he did say he was going to shoot a little more anesthetic in there "to clear that up." It didn't help for more than a moment. After it was finished I brought up the pain. He told me he had numbed me as much as he could, and that he would barely be touching the tooth. I don't know if he thought I was imagining things, or what, but I do know that terrible pain was real. Before I left the office, they gave me two Advil, and I noticed that my tongue was very slightly numb when I took a sip of water. Other than that, not my face, my lips, nor my mouth were numb at all. I have never had dental work done when it didn't take at least an hour or two for the numbness to wear off. But this time there just wasn't any. So, having told this long story, my question is this: does that absence of numbness indicate that the anesthesia did indeed not work, or fail at some point? Or to put it another way, is it possible to anesthetize only that one tooth and nothing else?
I think the fact that you were in a lot of pain is more of an indication that the anaesthetic didn't work, sorry!
It is possible to numb just a single tooth with some equipment, but not with a regular syringe and local set up.
My body 'kicks out' anesthetic, something I found out when having a skin biopsy and could feel the scalpel cutting. Nitrous seems to work. I wish I had known years ago about some people not processing anesthetic, I had always thought it was supposed to feel that way.

I am soooo sorry to ready what you went through.. that is beyond hard. and really hope you hadn't had to go through that. My nervous system just feels it reading it . This is really why the stop sign is so important and knowing they will honor when you tell them you are in pain :(..Its hard hindsight because you can't fix the experience but you have to process through it even after the fact it does affect you. I'm so sorry you didn't get enough anesthetic. If you have any more work done with him , I'd definately have a talk at a time when you aren't doing the work that is less threatening to chat and you have more power and don't feel quite so vulnerable. :grouphug: I have been through a root canal with not near enough anesthesia myself its awful painful . How are you doing now?