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Root Canal Fear - SOS



Junior member
Feb 6, 2022

I may have to get a root canal and I'm absolutely horrified. Let it be known, I take VERY good care of my teeth. However, I did have a tiny cavity about a year ago, and they did a small filling. No drilling was needed, just sanding. Absolutely painless. However, the filling chipped, and I had no idea until I went in for my cleaning 6 months later. The cavity obviously got bigger since they filling had chipped, so they needed to replace the filling (which required drilling this time).

The filling was replaced in January of this year, and it was pretty traumatic for me. I wasn't numb enough, so when he started drilling, I nearly jumped out of the chair it hurt so bad. It was unlike any pain I've ever felt in my life. I was so relieved once the procedure was done. Little did I know that was only the beginning.

After the filling was placed, it was beyond painful to chew anything on that tooth (molar). I went back because I thought the filling was too high, so they sanded it down again. However, despite going back 5 different times to get my bite adjusted over the course of one month, the tooth was still bothering me.

My dentist concluded that my nerves were probably irritated from the filling, so they had to take the filling out, and put a temporary medicated filling in. So we did that, and it worked! The medicated filling really helped, and I was able to eat things painlessly. I had the temporary filling for about 5 weeks, and then I had to go get the composite filling put back in.

In March, they put the composite filling back in, and I was back to square one. It hurt again to eat anything, and this time my tooth was even sensitive to temperature. I was enraged, so I found a new dentist.

The new dentist did an X-ray, and found the beginning of an infection. He also said that I could potentially have pulpitis. He prescribed me amoxicillin to see if that would clear up the pain and infection, and our hope was that this would resolve the issue. After completing the medication, I still have pain when chewing.

I have an appointment next Monday to see what needs to be done about this, and I'm so worried that I'm going to need a root canal. I'm only 23, so I'm pretty upset at the thought of needing a crown this young. With that being said, I have a few questions and concerns....

- Does a root canal procedure hurt? I'm so scared of the pain given what happened in January while getting my filling when I wasn't numb enough.

- What does the recovery from a root canal entail? Is is uncomfortable?

- How long do crowns last? It would be on one of my top molars, and I take very good care of my teeth.

- What is the process of getting a root canal?

Thank you in advance for the support!
I can relate as I've had problems with being numb also, it could have been down to the dentist, perhaps his/her technique or placement of the anesthesia just wasnt a good fit for you. So just explain the issues to your new dentist and they should be testing the area before work starts, agree a signal if you do feel anything and they should be able to give more.

I can't comment on the RCT as I've never had one.. that doesn't mean I have better teeth, I don't, I just had mine pulled instead (!). There's no shame in one at your age, I think you've done well too get that far and not need anything, it doesn't matter, after all you take care of your teeth and you weren't to know the filling had chipped away, what matters is you've caught it and are doing something about it x
Hi @l8rs8r, we've got a page with FAQs about root canals here - it should answer many of your questions:

You can also read a blow-by-blow account of a personal experience of RCT here:

With modern crown materials, crowns can last for ages, so try and ignore the worst-case-scenarios you'll come across when consulting Dr. Google 😛. Here are some statistics:

  • Pjetursson (2007) performed a literature review of published research and from it estimated a survival rate of 94% for crowns at 5 years and 90% at 10 years.
  • De Backer (2007) evaluated teeth that had been crowned by student clinicians at a dental school over a 16 to 20 year period. The 18-year survival rate calculated was 75%.
  • Walton (2013) reported on the long-term outcome for 2,340 crowns placed by an individual prosthodontist (a dental specialist). A survival rate of 97% was found at 10 years, 85% at 25 years.
(source: https://www.animated-teeth.com/dental_crowns/t7_dental_crowns_last.htm )

  • The procedure should not hurt. You will be numbed up prior.
  • I got my root canal 6 days ago. My soreness/tenderness peaked at about 48 hours post procedure. The only time it felt crummy was when I missed a dose of ibuprofen. I took 400MG of Advil every 4 hours. Used lots of icepacks on my cheek. RESTED a ton and slept a lot afterwards, I was tired and sleep helps the body recover. Eat soft foods and try your best to avoid biting down on that tooth because for some that hurts.
  • N/A from my own experience - I am getting my crown put on tomorrow. My mom has crowns that have lasted her years.
  • My process looked like this
    • I went in to the office and got comfy in the chair
    • The dentist explained a bit of what would happen
    • They applied a topical cream to numb where they'd be applying local anesthetic
    • Injected local anesthetic
    • Let that sit for about 10 minutes and performed a "cold test" which just tests to see if you are totally numb. It's a cotton swab with a gel that feels cold. It's kinda cool!
    • If you feel any pain, you can raise your hand and let them know. They can always add more local anesthetic! I had to raise mine once to get more. It was pretty easy and simple.
    • The procedure took about 45 minutes to an hour. I didn't feel A THING. I barely felt pressure. If there's any negative it's that it's kinda boring, but that's okay and not even a negative. It went by faster than I thought it would :)
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Thank you everyone for your kind/thoughtful/helpful responses! Definitely makes me feel a bit better!
Hello I8rsr,

First of all, very sorry they didn't get you fully numb during the filling, that is no good. :(.. I've had that happen too and makes you think twice about going again that it will happen. Also, you said , you fear you may have to get one, so. good to know what you are dealing with but maybe you'll get even better news and won't need one after all? I'm with conquering fears. I've had pretty much good experiences with root canals.. If you let them know your concerns about the anesthetic they should pay careful attn to you having enough and then you can arrange a sign if you are feeling anything and for them to give you more. I always ask ahead..will you top off the anethetic if I need it? I only had one dentist who wasn't nice and said you only get so much, never went back to him. anyways. the anesthetic shouldn't hurt if they do it slow with topical and as long as they give you enough , you won't feel a bit. you shouldn't. for me it was boring. just sitting with my mouth open. and most the time afteward was pretty non eventful either and you can even eat fairly quick after. The healing i've had has been quick . So although root canals have a bit of a bum reputation they aren't nearly as bad as they sound :) Hope your appt goes well! Let us know
First of all welcome to DFC you’re certainly in the right place to get support for your journey don’t be so hard on yourself for the state that your teeth might be in I think you’d be pleasantly surprised at what the dentist will tell you I was shocked at first when my dentist told me everything that I would need done but honestly it’s made me feel better knowing what I need done and what we’re gonna do about it I wish you all the best luck at your next appointment and let us know how it goes
@l8rs8r I had a root canal a few months back. I was very upfront with the endodontitis about my fear and anxiety. They were very understanding and they gave me halcion which is a nerve pill before procedure and I had nitrous too. The dr said his goal was for me to not remember coming there. I didnt feel the shot or anything. My mouth was not sore and had no pain whatsoever. I hope this helps.