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Root canal tomorrow - still not convinced - your thoughts?



Well-known member
Mar 24, 2009
Hi everyone,

So for the second time, I have the root canal booked for tomorrow. I haven't cancelled only because I'm afraid of being ostrasized from the dental community as the endodontist has also had to book the anesthesiologist for the IV sedation and they do not take kindly to multiple last minute cancellations.

However, I'm still not convinced I need one, and this is where I'd love your feedback.

To those of you who had root canals - what was the pain like beforehand?

I had a sharp horrible pain because of a cracked tooth, and had the tooth filled which stopped that pain. However, I still had more of a "nerve pain" I guess, but very sporadic, and on a scale of 1-10, probably a 2.

Everyone I know of whose had a root canal says they've had EXCRUCIATING pain, unable to sleep, etc. I have had none of that.

What have your symptoms been? Has anyone had a root canal when the symptoms were not very bad? Clearly there is SOMETHING going on with that tooth, but I sure don't seem to have the "normal" symptoms.

Would love to hear your experience.
Just had one week before last - first half back in Feb. Pain beforehand had actually gone away, so I wasn't in pain at all when I had the dead/dying nerve removed and the first part of the RCT, not even when the X Ray showed the beginnings of an abscess - the pain, although horrendous, only lasted 24 hours and even then, only last 2-5 minutes at a time, then went, then came back... At no point did I have continuous, earth shattering pain. The pain was appalling but very fleeting - in my case! We're all different!

I couldn't get to see the dentist til the Wednesday (the pain staretd on the Saturday) - mainly as it was the kids' half term and I have no babysitter - but by the Monday, I had no pain at all. The X Ray I had on the Weds confirmed it WAS an abscess, though. Even though I hadn't even had a twinge for days.

In fact, reading other folks' symptoms online - I was convinced I had a TMJ (jaw problem) as my symptoms seemed identical to those, NOT to an abscess. No two people are alike, in other words!

Between the Feb appointment and the April one - no recurrence of pain, either. Did not have even a twinge and took no painkilelrs whatsoever, from 3 days before my first RCT appointment, onwards.

The fact my pain had stopped made me think it couldn't be possible a RCT was needed - but looking back, that was just what I wanted to believe!

I think I have read there are folk who have no pain even with an abscess. Bottom line is, if the nerve is dead or dying, the RCT is unavoidable if you want to save the tooth.

It wasn't painful to have done, and I am as nervous a patient as they can get! Easy for me to say don't worry but really - it's not worth expending emotional energy on beforehand. Worth getting it done just to get it over but yes, you can have little or no pain and still have a tooth with an infection/dead nerve.

If the experienced endo thinks it is required, I think you have to trust them - as if you go for another opinion and it is still the same, where does that leave you? Going for a third opinion, then a fourth, til you get the one you'd like? I know that's how my mind works! This time tomorrow, it could be over with. And truly, it's not worth your worry if you have already had two opinions it's needed - I understand X Rays can be ambiguous, but I suspect we get to the point we should err on the side of caution.
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"Going for a third opinion, then a fourth, til you get the one you'd like? I know that's how my mind works! "

Isn't that the definition of a lawyer - asking the same question a dozen different ways until you get the answer you want? ;) Unless you really are a lawyer, maybe we missed our calling. Heh Heh.

Seriously though, thank you so much for replying. I thought you had to be in excruciating agony and totally unable to cope with the pain in order to need a root canal. I can think of 3 people I know who had that exact experience, so I thought how can I possibly need a root canal. But my symptoms sound eerily similar to yours - except that I had no absess or infection. I have a feeling I caught mine really early, so that may help explain it too.
I can't say. I've only had root canals done when I was in severe pain but um I usually didn't go to the dentist until that point. :whistle:

I think the biggest thing with your tooth is you don't want it to get back to the point of being in pain. My extraction today was of a tooth that was broken but not in unbearable pain yet. It's harder to get a patient Dentist when you have to ask to be seen on an emergency basis lol.

Wish I could help more. I hope whatever you decide, it is painless and easy.
hi leela
just wanted to say im thinking of you and please let us know how it went as soon as you can i'll be checking back all day!!! im like you i definately need these 5 teeth out but im not in pain so you keep saying to yourself well maybe i'll leave it but and heres the big but i am terrified of that horrible pain coming back and it will one day. I think if your dentist realy thinks this will help if you can ( i know you can !!!!) you should probaly get it done just keep thinking how much better you will feel afterwards one less thing in a life full of stress to worry about!!! it does seem like yr dentist is pretty sure now that you need one or they wouldn't be doing it.
im thinking of you
best of luck and a big big hug !!!
what time is yr appointment i always think morning is best my next one on thursday is 6 pm great isn't it all day to make myself sick with worry !!
( i just know tomorrow i will be sending you the "yay" smily!!)
Hi Leela from me, too and a hug. For me the pain started exactly a week ago, last Tuesday. At first, during the day it was just a twinge here and there which I tried to ignore and hope would go away, which it seemed to until I got in bed that night. :/ At that point one of my upper teeth on the right began to throb. It was awful. :cry:What made the situation "weird" was that that tooth pain seemed to alternate between that one (top) and one of my lower teeth. In other words, both places would rarely hurt at the same time. I finally took some Tylonel, which only helped a tiny bit but managed to sleep finally anyway. When I woke up Wednesday morning, I was relieved that the worst seemed to be over. During the day, there were a few moments when both "places" would twinge but NOTHING like the wracking pain of the night before. However, :/, once again that night both "teeth" flared up again and when the same thing happened Thursday night, I knew I could no longer avoid seeing a dentist on Friday.

The truth is, I was (still am) embarrassed that it's been over a year since my last cleaning and well as time went on, it became easier to "put it off." :redface: In addition, the dentist who I had been seeing for a good 20 years save a few years when I was living out of the area, had retired and that made it harder for denist -unloving me, to try and find a new one.

Anyway to finish up a long story, I had seen the (current) dentist, my former one had been in practice with a few times over the years and while I never quite felt comfortable with him, the way my teeth hurt Friday morning, I gave his office a call and went in a few hours later.

After describing my pain to him (naturally once in his office, the tooth pains had subsided, not gone but much less painful than earlier that morning), he took a quick look and at once told me that the "bottom tooth pain" I was feeling had nothing to do with a tooth but because my gum had become infected from tartar build-up. He then asked about the upper tooth and after tapping it with some device, he quickly located the "bad upper tooth." Xrays confirmed that a tiny cavity from two years ago had become so big that it infected the nerve, something else, at that point I was not too happy a camper to be completely listening, and that it would require a root canal.

He didn't "do" anything that day other than perscribe amoxicilyn. The "plan" is that by my Friday afternoon appointment the infection(s)? will have gotten better and depending what the xray shows, he'll proceed with the start of a root canal. :/ He's just a regular dentist so he said he might have to refer me to an endo. Assuming this all transpires, I have to go back next week, for root canal part two and a deep cleaning. That's that.

The absolute truth is that even as of Friday night, before I started taking the antibiotic on Saturday morning, for some lucky reason the pain had all but diminished. I, of course, admit to being ever so hopeful that a miracled had taken place. Since then, I have not experienced ANY throbbing pain or honestly any lasting pain at all save a few twinges. So yeah, I'm still "hoping."

Another hug to you and as others have said and as I read on the "common fears" section of this wonderful site, you are in control and in charge. I know, believe me I know, it's easier said than done but be sure you trust your dentist at least enough to proceed and remember that if he/she is not receptive to you or your needs that you can always chose to try and find someone else who will be.

Good luck!


P.S. I almost forgot that there are topical anasthetic creams (non dental) that can be rubbed into your hand/arm before the iv to prevent that needle from hurting.
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Hi guys - well the stress and anxiety is really kicking in now. I'm finding that I'm really angry and irritable and I think it's really bugging me again that I took such good care of my teeth all my life and now this. I thought good dental hygiene should have prevented this - that's why I was obsessed with it, but here I am, needing a root canal. I had the weirdest thought earlier that I wish I was getting some sort of cosmetic procedure done instead, at least then I'd have something to show for all this. But instead I have to go for a procedure I'm terrified of, for pain that isn't even there now, having spent a lifetime trying to prevent. Makes no sense, but that's where my head space is at right now.

Emma - you made me smile and gave me warm fuzzies inside, I was hoping to hear from you. :) My "procedure" is at 8:40 am Eastern time, but I'm supposed to be pretty groggy from the sedation, so I'll probably be out of it for most of the day. But as soon as I "come to" I'll be on the boards!

Razzle3 - as I write this I am thinking that most "normal" people probably wouldn't even have made an appt. to see a dentist based on the minimal amount of pain I'm having, and here I am going for a root canal tomorrow. I hope I'm doing the right thing. I hope the endo has it right. My case has been so weird, I just hope that this is what's needed, I wish I had a bit more confidence going into it. I was almost hoping that from putting it off another 2 weeks I'd be in agony and it would have been clear that this is what I need, but I still don't feel that way. I'd love to go another 2 weeks just to see what would happen, but my endo would probably refuse to book me for another appt. But I can relate to your "miracles", I've had a few myself when I thought I was miraculously cured, but so far I don't think I've had any divine intervention. ;)

So I'll suck it up tomorrow, Emma will suck it up on Thursday, you on Friday and maybe we'll all be getting closer to getting all these things behind us.

I so appreciate all the support though, so very much.

I think I'll go get a bath or something and try to relax. Yuck. :cry:
Leela, as you're having IV you REALLY have nothing to fear!

They will X Ray before and probably during/after, and hopefully there will be some more definite, clear evidence for you! (Although if you're having IV you won't know or care at that point!)

I felt the same as you - why need a root canal AFTER I had worked so hard and been through so much last year, to finally - after 21 years of avoidance - go to get my teeth sorted, only to have this happen now? I felt like i went throug hell and back, and had finally conquered my demons so long as I never had to have an RCT - then it happened. And yet, know what? It wasn't worth my fear. It wasn't so bad. And if I'd had IV sedation, frankly I wouldn't give a monkeys because that stuff is so great!

Mine was due to a deep filling very close to the nerve - and my dentist warned me at the time, it might fail. Well no problems for 10 months and then - this! I have just had a lot of stress and put it down to my immune system failing to keep an ifnection in check but bottom line is, the nerve would have already been dying anyway and it would, inevitably, have come to an RCT at some point.

I was told mine was only the beginnings of an abscess - so I can't imagine what it would feel like to have a full blown infection. Frankly, the nearly 2 hours I spent in the chair having the RCT was worth every second if I never have that pain again! Although as I say, the pain only seemed to last for 5 minutes at a time and came and went over just 1 - 2 days, then was gone.

This time tomorrow you will be feeling like this::yay:

and deserve some of this :sleepyjuice:
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Hi Poodleoo - actually my situation is very similar to yours. I had a very deep filling about 20 years ago, and that is probably what caused the crack in either the enamel or the filling a few months ago, that eventually led to needing this root canal. The dentist told me if I had gotten the filling when she suggested back in January, I may have avoided the root canal. Boy did I ever hate myself over that one. :cry:

But I also have a deep filling next to the nerve, so maybe this was not to be avoided at some point. I guess it's better than losing the tooth.

I just hope I remember NOTHING. I want no memories after driving to the endo tomorrow morning, and if there was something I could do to erase the entire day from my memory, I'm sure I would.

Thanks for the support - again.

I honestly cannot thank everyone enough, it's been such a huge comfort to be able to come on here and share. Others can be supportive, but there is a special bond amongst others who really "get it".

Leela, at this time tomorrow, I hope you will be on :cloud9: knowing you did it and its over with. Lol, to your ending comments, I quite agree that the soooner all of us can move on from this the much better!

Poodleoo, cool name. :) I had a black poodle when I was a very young kid. The tiny cavity from two years ago (that I never had filled) now requiring that deep filling is why I need RCT. I am glad to hear you are now in the happy post RCT zone. I sure hope to be joining you and others there myself.

With IV pretty well anything is a breeze - am a big fan. Can you tell?;D

That said, I now don't feel I need it (unless I need something really major doing) and you can tell how I feel about RCTs now from the fact I wouldn;t think I'd even need any form of sedation now, for an RCT! So even without sedation, they are fine. Imagine how easy it is with!

Good luck, Leela, thinking of you today and hopefully by tonight you can be doing this: :ROFLMAO::yay::jump:
Hi I hope everything went well for your root canal. I had my first root canal last september due to a filled cavity gone bad and I am not going to lie that the first dentist that did it was horrible! I had a really bad infection going on on top of that hence the experience was unpleasant. To make matters worse, that dentist couldn't finish the root canal and referred me to an endodontist. However, the endo was excellent! He finished up the root canal in no time at all and I did not feel any pain whatsoever. I finally got my new crown done by another dentist and I am so glad that I've found "my" dentist. I will be going in tomorrow for 3 fillings one of which is a deep cavity. Hopefully they'll be able to fix the deep cavity and I don't require another root canal. The procedure wasn't bad, just long and costly.
Hi i am new to this site but really need advice, i have been seeing an NHS dentist for several monthes and i told him that a tooth on my top right was hurting me and i assumed it was only a small filling that needed. It was like a dull pain. Then he said he wouldnt drill my tooth because he was scared of it collapsing. WHAT! Then he just put some filling material over the tooth and then days later it came out and this happened countless times so he just kept doing it and everytime the filling came off more of my tooth came off but he didnt bother to check for any othere problem and then the last time he filled it a big hole came i went back he filled it again and i went back later and i told him it still hurts even though you filled it and he looked and said there is nothing missing from it and he said just rinse it with mouthwash..... And now i have a big hole because it came out and i went to an emergency dentist who said it needs to come out because it aint good anymore i said can you do a root canal and he said no he has no time he only took me as an emergency so he gve me antibiotics to get rid of any infection/swelling and said just think about it and see if you can find a detist to do root canal. Am just so depressed am only 21 and dont want to lose teeth yet, i hate my teeth as they are. Is a root canal worth it and how effective is it does it mean your tooth is dead but still in your mouth
I'm not sure how you'd go about finding an NHS dentist to do that but my guess is, all you can do is ring round and track one down, or ring NHS Direct and see if they can advise who is taking on new patients?

A root canalled tooth is 'dead' but is often crowned to keep it strong. It's there and functioning and is preferable to a gap or a bridge, I'd imagine! Especially at your age it's well worth doing all you can to keep your teeth there as long as possible! Apparently, root canals have around an 85% success rate (maybe higher if done by someone really good).

Sadly, the way to go with many thimgs now seems to be to go private but I know root canals are one of the more expensive procedures - and for good reason. They take a lot of skill and time but from your point of view, worth it to keep that tooth!
Yikes, tomorrow afternoon is now looming. I sure felt "braver" earlier in the week. I keep telling myself what all you wonderful folks have said that thanks to the numbing gel the anasthetic shot won't be painful (my biggest fear still) and once the medicine takes, the procedure will be nothing. As you guys know, "knowing" all that is much easier thought than believed/done.

Also, after reading Leela's thread, (another hug to you, Leela, :( I sure hope my tooth doesn't decide to morph into monsterous pain. I swear that since seeing the dentist last Friday (before starting antibiotics Saturday) neither my "bad" tooth the one needing the RC or my lower gum which is infected from lack of teeth cleaning for too long have been throbbing or even hurting the way they both did last week. An occassional "bottom" slight twinge and that's it. :)

I got to chat with EnglishKeymaster yesterday on the chat site he linked, and
well someone truly ought to invent a magic fairy wand for teeth. Until then, it means a lot to have these boards to come too.


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