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Root canal booked and I'm utterly terrified.



Sep 21, 2016
I've got multiple missing teeth due to not wanting root canals, and the cost. Now I'm faced with a tooth near the front that couldn't be saved with a filling, so a root canal is booked.

It's over a month away so I'm worried it won't last that long for starters as I was informed there's a small infection already (it's been hurting since the filling from December).

For some reason it's not my dentist, he referred me to someone else in the practice because my dentist 'doesn't do root canals and I do lots of them". I'm not entirely sure what that means, my dentist is 65 so presumably does/has done them?! 🫤. Nonetheless it's someone new, who is very nice but I've had no experience of him so that frightens me.
But part of me is worried I'm not seeing a specialist or someone who only does root canals? I was informed this is only for complex cases but for some reason I'm not convinced.

He showed me the CT scan and the roots go from 2 to 1, which isn't anything I've heard of. Nonetheless the grainy CT scan did worry me 1) because it was grainy/poor quality and 2) the tooth root seemed to hang outside of my jawbone and the dentist said it may still continue to hurt because it would push on my bone when I ate - the root could be removed but that would be a surgical procedure... 🙁 He also said the roots are very long, and seemed shocked at that, I almost felt like he was regretting agreeing to do it.. All in all everything he was announcing to me was only scaring me more... I was hoping I would feel better but nothing about it reassured me.

It's a 2hr appointment and I stupidly took one right before the Easter break so if anything goes wrong the place will be shut.

I'm also terrified I won't be able to hold it together that long. At all. The dentist said he prefers to do it in one go but I just don't know. I feel like crying just thinking about it. I can manage deep/slightly longer fillings, but it's a struggle not to panic and despite music, lavender oil (to calm me) it gets harder and harder to keep a lid on all the frightening things that go through my mind and all I can hold on to is that it will soon be over.. well at 2hrs that's not the case 😢

The dentist did offer me diazepam but I know I will then begin worrying about side effects and the possibility I'll be sick, which will add to my anxiety.

I'm trying desperately hard to be positive, tell myself I can do it but I'm struggling.

If anyone can offer any positive words or experiences I'd appreciate it (on the flip side please don't tell me if yours went wrong, I don't think I could cope with anyone else telling me something negative, I've already had the 'ooh you don't want a root canal' talk).

Thank you if you managed to read all this
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Hi Nicci, I remember that @oneby had root canal treatment very recently, maybe they'll be along to share their experience (which sounded rather positive!). There are also stories on here e.g.

Regarding your experience - it's not unusual for dentists not to want to do root canal treatment, not everyone is cut out for that sort of slow and fine detail work, and of course, if you tend to refer to someone else for it, you'll lack the practice needed to do them well. Sorry to hear that the other dentist didn't inspire total confidence, it's hard to guess whether it was just his demeanour, or whether you might be better off with a specialist endodontist. Though generally speaking, teeth closer to the front (with fewer roots) are a lot more straightforward even for a general (non-specialist) dentist. I'm not sure what I'd do in that situation... perhaps you could email him and ask what he reckons the chances of a successful treatment are (like, a percentage)? This can often give you a good idea of whether it's worth seeking out a specialist or not.

Hopefully I haven't muddied the waters even further...

P.S. as far as I'm aware, drugs like diazepam and midazolam have an anti-emetic effect, that is, they make nausea and being sick LESS likely rather than inducing it!
Nicci - I had my first root canal a week ago. I had an infection and a CT scan revealed a dead nerve. My regular dentist referred me to a specialist, an endodontist. I preferred this since a specialist is usually better at something since it's all that they do.

I would suggest looking into an endodontist for this procedure. Do your research online and see what options you can find.

I was nervous going in for the procedure and my heart was racing a bit. I asked the endodontist about having nitrous oxide and he told me that 98% of his patients don't seem to need it. So I decided to go without anything to calm be other than some deep breathing exercises.

I experienced absolutely no pain with the root canal. They put a lot of topical numbing agent in my mouth so I didn't even feel the shots. And of course I didn't feel the procedure. If I couldn't see them working on me they could have been giving the chair a root canal for all I knew. Looking back on it all, it was more of an interesting experience than a frightening one. There were some different tools used and some different sounds, but again, I almost felt like they weren't even working on me. I felt strangely detached from the whole thing and just went into a daydream. As the procedure progressed I could feel myself relaxing and my heart rate slowing down. I began to think about how this wasn't such a big deal or worth getting excited about.

I was surprised when they told me they were finished. They originally told me the procedure might last and hour and a half but I think it ended up being closer to an hour. Afterwards they warned me about possible soreness and I took prescription strength ibuprofen for a day but I don't know if I needed it. I never had any soreness at all afterwards.

Obviously, experiences can vary with any procedure, and you have your own dential issues with that root problem, but all I can do is share my experience. Tomorrow I am going back to my regular dentist to get the tooth crowned. I'm not looking forward to that either but I don't fear it, I just dread the hassle of it. But ultimately I remind myself how wonderful it is to live in the age of modern denstistry where whatever they do they numb everything so you just don't feel it.

It'll be okay Nicci. Look into the endodontist option. But you don't need to spend the next month worrying. Give yourself permission not to worry. My life experience has taught me, over and over again, that we often don't even really know what to worry about. While we focus our attention worrying about one thing, the greater challenges in life usually come up by surprise and don't give us time to worry about them. No I've not mastered the advice I'm giving you as I still struggle with worry myself, that's why I'm on this forum, but I'm just trying to share whatever I can that might help.
@letsconnect than you so much for your time in replying I do appreciate it.

I've been looking into it again today but I'm just as confused as when I started lol I looked on another forum and someone asked a similar question, the resounding response was 'go to an endodontist ' and as it turned out the tooth wasn't able to be saved when an endodontist did look... So that's concerned me a little, but I know there's likely lots of people that have been just fine with a general dentist (I'm trying to be mindful of what I read).. I think my fear is that it won't be a success, he gets it wrong or doesn't do a good enough job and I lose the tooth - then I'll feel I should've seen a specialist in the first place

if I'm honest part of me doesn't want to bother the practice with questions, I know that's silly, but I guess I'm paranoid about being a nuisance and I know the particular dentist I saw was very busy (maybe that's a good thing). But you're right, it could've been his demeanor, that's crossed my mind as it's my first and only experience with him.. (I'm not sure what was really going on.. did I judge correctly or is it my anxiety running away instead!)

The practice did allow me to message the dentist previously, for my anxious husband that time, and the dentist (same one) did pass on a reply, so it is worth trying to ask thank you 👍 you've not muddied the waters at all, I appreciate the suggestion.
@oneby thank you for taking the time to share your experience with me ☺️ It sounds as if it went as well as it could've, certainly a positive experience.

On the upside (presuming they were honest) I did read today that the drilling sounds dont last too long, that seems to be something that adds to my anxiety, I'm not entirely sure why.. the smell, sensation in my head, noise.. I don't know, I just noticed last time I struggled with it. So the different tools used might not be as noisy at least 🙂. My dentist said 2hrs for mine, I'm wondering if an endodontist might shorten that time further. The dentist did say he refers to someone who previously worked at the practice, so I could ask to be referred (not sure if that's an option if he deems it not to be complicated... It seemed slightly complicated/possible issues from what he said to me, but I've never done this before and I'm certainly no dentist!)

I turned down the oral sedation as I'm on amitriptyline which also acts as a mild sedative (or is said to) and I worried about taking both.. I'm a bit of a nervous nelly re taking things as I've had stuff in the past that made me feel sick. I'm happy to read you'd did fine and managed to relax into it.

But you are right, I should'nt worry. I think that I've tried to be positive and have a 'i can do this' mindset, but my consultation threw me a little (he also seemed gobsmacked at the size of my canine with "I don't envy the person who has to remove that!!'.. I think I'm just used to the gentle approach of my dentist who is always positive and careful in how he delivers info to me (absolutely gutted he's retiring! lol)

Thank you again, I'll look into endodontists near me and see what comes of it 🙂 I'm glad all went well for you. Good luck with your crown, I've been told I'll need that also.
Yes, always worth asking, and I also like your idea of looking into endodontists near you 🙂. You never know, if your dentist is retiring, another endodontist who's not connected to the practice might be able to give some dentist recommendations.

To be honest, the canine comment is so off-the-wall that that alone would make me consider seeing an endodontist lol :p (it would kind of make me doubt his professionalism)
@letsconnect I was already doubting it a bit tbh, after sitting in the waiting room and listening to him talk about some kind of routine inspection they recently had, where he didn't take too kindly to the "horrible woman" who didn't think their sedation certificates gave enough detail, apparently he'd "need to go back in time and predict they'd start dating then" or something along those lines & he's usually good at not being sarcastic but couldn't hold back in that instance.

I just got the impression he was young and somewhat overexcited. I didn't get involved in the conversation, it was between the receptionist, him (mostly) and the patient/customer next to me.
:o Well, I don't think you're overreacting, I would find it pretty hard to put my trust in someone like that, he sounds rather unprofessional and gung-ho.

Also see Gordon's reply in the Ask a Dentist section which sheds some light on the fused root thing (another reason to check out endodontists in your area?).