My Root Canal

My Root Canal

My tooth had been bothering me for months.  There was the dull ache that was almost always present and then there was the hypersensitivity to hot and cold.  The body adapts, though, without you putting in very much thought into the entire process.  You tend to chew food on one side of your mouth.  When you drink you find yourself pushing the liquid away from the tooth.  The dull ache becomes just more noise in the background of your life.  I went in to the dentist for my regular six month check-up and mentioned the tooth.  My dentist took an x-ray below the gum line and he showed me there was an infection below the gum line and that I might need a root canal in the near future.  Damn, a root canal.

Now a root canal conjures up images of sadistic dentists going in elbows deep with their implements of destruction.  The patient, in this case me, being held down by nurse Crachet and the pain shooting through my mouth and body.  That was my image of what a root canal looked and felt like.  I had never had one before.  I had never even come close.  I brush.  I floss.  I practice great dental hygiene so it shouldn’t have happened to me.  Yet it did.

A month or two passed since I was at the dentist and I went out to dinner with my family.  I drank something cold and even that cold, on the other side of my mouth, sent waves of pain shooting through my mouth.  I tried to eat and drink that night and had a hard time because the pain ended up being so bad.  What could a boy do?  I needed a root canal and needed it soon.

My Root Canal Oddesy

The next morning I called my dentist.  Of course he was on vacation that week and I ended up getting a call back from the receptionist about an hour after I left my message.  My friends had given me a name of an Endodontist ( a dentist specializing in root canals) where the experience would be relatively painless.  Since they do so many root canals they do them efficiently, quickly, and are able to tamp down the pain.  I gave this name to the receptionist and she said that this was the person they recommended anyway, and then she told me she would call me back yet again after talking to my dentist.  The long and short of it is that she was able to make an appointment for me for the next morning for a consultation with the Endodontist.

I got up early and left for the new dentist I was about to see.  This office was closer to my home so I was happy about the low travel time.  I filled out some paperwork and then they took me to the back room which looked like every other dentist office I had ever been in.  The assistant took and x-ray, which appeared immediately on a computer screen, and there the infection was brilliantly glowing beneath my gum line.

The doctor came in and looked at the x-ray and then he put a cold stick on part of my tooth.  After they peeled me off the ceiling they told me I did indeed need a root canal and the doctor started to put a Novocain stick in my mouth.  I told them I thought that this was just a consultation and he said they could do the root canal immediately if I had the time.  Indeed I did!

The Root Canal and the Aftermath

So they proceeded to numb up my mouth before they took out the needle and shot me full of the goodness that is Novocain.  The prep work took about ten minutes and after half of my face was sufficiently numb, the big needle came out and he started filling my jaw line with the pain-numbing formula.  It took about seven or eight shots I would guess?  He then said they would wait another five minutes before they started and I wandered off down the hall to use the bathroom.

The root canal was fantastic.  I experience absolutely no pain.  He kept injecting more Novocain into my mouth as he drilled and as he worked all the debris kicked up by the drill was caught by a dental dam.  I had never used one before but that was really a neat invention.  The root canal felt like an extended cavity being filled, which in reality it was.  The root is killed and the cavity made by the Endodontist was filled like any other cavity.  He then packed the rest of the hole with cotton and put a temporary filling over the hole he had just drilled through my crown.  My beautiful $650 crown.

They left me $345 lighter in my pocket, thank God we have dental insurance because they covered about $1,300.00 of the procedure, and I had lost about an hour of my time.  A root canal is not cheap.  They told me to I should follow up with my dentist to get the temporary filling removed and replaced by a permanent one.

The tooth was tender from the procedure for a little over a week.  It would hurt if I would bit down on it and I could tell there was a bit of swelling around the beastly tooth.  The sheet sent home with me told me I could expect pain for up to a couple of weeks following a root canal, so the feeling was not unexpected.  I could, however, now drink hot and cold liquids!  Progress!

Did you know when you have a root canal that you do not need Novocain to get the new filling put in?  Since the root was killed and the nerves removed, there is no pain associated with that tooth.  I went in this morning and had the absolute best experience I have ever had getting a filling.  The entire thing took about ten minutes and the filling matched the crown perfectly.  The dentist could not tell where the crown ended and the filling began.  I could then eat and drink on it immediately.  Fillings and cavities have come so far in my short time here on earth.  It amazes me how nice fillings look these days.

Anyway…that is my story of my root canal.  There was no pain involved at all except the pain that my tooth had from needing a root canal.  The procedure was quick, I was in and out in about an hour, and the tooth was back to normal in a little over a week.  I have a filling that matches my crown and I have no more pain eating or drinking.  I would get one again in a second if I had known it would take the ache and pain away from my tooth.