My random Monday afternoon root canal

So about 9 months ago, I had a cavity filled that, quite honestly, should have been filled about 2 years prior to that. The dentist told me at the time of the filling that it was probably going to need a root canal eventually, since the filling was almost all the way down to the nerve.

Fast forward to last Thursday: I start getting random spurts of pain in my tooth and lower jaw, ranging from an unpleasant ache to out screaming-in-agony-pain. Sometimes the pain goes away in a few minutes, sometimes it persists for an hour or three. This continues all through the weekend, and peaked Sunday night with me taking 2 vicodin pills (leftover from a surgery about 5 months ago) and 5 advil just to dull the pain enough to fall asleep.

So first thing this morning, I call up the dentist’s office, and explain the situation. “Ok, we can get you in at 3:30” says the receptionist. I arrive at 3:27, get taken back to the exam room immediately (of course, I’m completely pain-free at that point). A few minutes of poking and prodding by the dentist, and it is determined that I do, in fact, require a root canal. A few shots of Novocain, a bunch of drilling and poking and god knows what else… and an hour and a half later, I walk out with a new vicodin prescription and a follow-up appointment for next week.

It was my first root canal, and I’m honestly shocked that they did it right away like that (although I certainly am not complaining). And actually, except for a minute or so of very uncomfortable feeling in my mouth, it was actually not as horrible as I’d been led to believe. Actually, I’ve had cavity fillings that have been much more unpleasant.

Anyone else have root canal stories to share?

The only root canal I’ve ever had was virtually painless and actually far less uncomfortable than a lot of other dental procedures I’ve been through. I’ve heard horror stories from other people, but my experience was fine.

Coincidentally, I too had a root canal today, Monday afternoon. It was not bad at all. However, it was my third or fourth, so I already knew the drill. Heh.

I had my first last week, after almost six months of pain, the wrong tooth pulled (it’s okay, it was a wisdom tooth that should have come out anyway), two incompetent dentists, one endodontist, and two more dentist appointments with a new dentist for the crown. Yikes.

Right now I have a temporary crown and next week I’ll go back for the second appointment with the competent dentist for the permanent crown. As much as I liked the endodontist, I was annoyed that I had to make so many trips because she doesn’t do anything at all besides the root canal, so she gave me a temporary filling and had to go to the dentist for the temporary crown. Oh well, if that’s how it works, so be it. Next time I might just have the tooth pulled if it’s a molar again.

I had a similar experience.

First, they filled the tooth, but came so close to the nerve that no amount of novocaine could keep it numb enough. He put a bit of filler in next to the nerve, but the tooth never could tolerate cold after that.

I got real used to drinking on the other side of my face.

Eventually, the tooth never stopped hurting, and the side of my face started feeling like someone punched me. All the time. Being a guy, I ignored it manfully for quite some time. Then I ignored it idiotically for some more time. Cuz I knew what was coming, you see.

The dentist had said, like you, that the tooth would eventually need a root canal. Yippee, I said. Oh, they’re not so bad, he said. How many have you had, I said. None.


So I went for anemergency appointment, at wich point they said, yep, that tooth’s gonna need that root canal. The nerve is dying.

The nerve is dying. ** I’ve got a dying nerve in my head.**

So they rescheduled me for two days later, and gave me some Tylenol (none of this week off with Vicodin vacation that you got, jweb. Good dentist, that). They said they had blocked out the whole afternoon just for me. Yippee again, I said.

First, the removal of the old filling. Ouch.

Then, direct numbing of what’s left of the nerve, and drilling down into it. Of course, all of this with my jaws wrenched open so the dentist’s hands, the assistant’s hands, and the drainage hose, power drill, sawzall, tongue-clamp, and widescreen tv can all fit in.

Then the drilling. Which didn’t hurt so much as FILL MY HEAD WITH SCREECHING BEES.

The bees were tolerable at first, unilt I noticed the smoke coming out of my mouth. And sniffed… burning. STOP THE BEES!! I’M ON FIRE!!! But what came out was more like ‘STAAA AAA EEEE! AAAAHH AUUUGHH EYE-AW!!!’ So they ignored me.

After the bee-drilling was done (by my estimate it was only three days), he pulled out these itty-bitty flexible rasps and showed me one. He was proud. He was going to stick it into my tooth and ‘clean out all the dead nerve’ As frightening as that sounds, it really didn’t feel all that bad after the drilling parts. Although once in a while the rasp would pull on the tooth and kind of yank my whole head sideways.

He wound up rasping out three little nerve holes all the way down to my jaw. He showed me the X-ray. You could see three little subway tunnels kind of splaying out through my tooth. He even pointed out where you could see some remaining bits of nerve.

Back in with the teeny rasps. This phase really only took a day or two. Rasp away, then see how clean the tooth-holes are, then rasp some more. Incidentally, burnt tooth-stuff tastes awful.

Then the holes were filled with something inert, and a temporary cap. About eight months later I got a permanent cap. ( That involved far less drilling, but much more grinding, wrenching, and hammering).

So four hours later, I walked out with one dead tooth and aching jaw muscles.

Still no Vicodin though. I may have to switch dentists.


For the record, I didn’t get a week off of work (I was actually back at work right away this morning, but since my job only entails sitting in an 8x8’ grey box and staring at a computer screen, I can work even during a Vicodin high. Of course, I’m going to have pretty much the rest of the week off due to some unfortunate circumstances beyond my control and unrelated to the root canal).

Your pre-root canal experience sounds almost exactly like mine (That tooth could never tolerate cold or hot after being filled, and even chewing harder foods was uncomfortable).

As for the unpleasantness, the screeching bees are pretty much unavoidable, but I tried my best to ignore the sights/smells by closing my eyes (and keeping them closed at all costs) and holding my breath. If you pay attention, you can tell when they’re going to start drilling… so breath in as much as you can, and hold it. Every dentist I’ve had has never drilled more then 30 seconds or so at a stretch, so you can hold your breath until the drilling stops.

Anyway, today wasn’t bad. Jaw is sore as all hell, but that’s hardly unexpected, and the Vicodin is working quite well on that front.

And for some reason, my sig just seems so… appropriate… for this thread.

A week’s worth of Vicodin should make work SEEM like a vacation though. It just seems like you’re working.

But this is what you’re typing:

The annual percentage of …birds…birdies. Wapner zebra digest jjjgkllls mmb…

And now, for a bone-chilling root canal horror story…

I had one 14 years ago.

This, my first and only experience with a root canal, still causes, to this day, tears to spring to my eyes, my heart to pound hard and fast, and the instinct to run like hell when I sit in a dentist’s chair. Yes, because of this root canal, I need sedatives just to sit in the chair.

It started out innocently enough. This was the summer I maxed out my dental insurance with lots of work, cosmetic and not. One of the projects was this root canal. My regular dentist put in 7 visits working on it. The pain was so intense that I could sometimes not stop myself from trying to grab his hand as he worked, and sometimes succeeding. After the 7th visit, infection set in. Oh sweet Jesus, the pain, I still cringe from it. I was put on antibiotics, Prednisone, and a drug the likes of which I’d never seen before and haven’t seen since then. I believe it was called Mepergan. When the Mepergan wore off in the middle of the night, I would bolt upright in bed screaming, just like that. Horrible, horrible thing that pain was. That pain will be with me for the rest of my life, in my memory.

Then when the infection was gone, my dentist finally admitted defeat and sent me to an endodontist, who quite competently and quickly finished the job with absolutely no pain whatsoever.

Of course, I had to pay the endodontist for an entire root canal, and also my dentist charged me for it, too. Bastard.