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Readers Respond: Your Root Canal Therapy Stories - Good, Bad, or Just Plain Ugly?

Responses: 79


Updated May 24, 2009

drill in canal

I just got back from the dentist who is very good but the drill broke in my gums. I was trying to save the tooth and get it crowned but now she says they may have to remove it. She said i would have to see a specialist and I'm worried I wont be able to pay for it because I'm a student. Not sure what i should do...
—Guest drill


So much freaking pain. I went in with my cheekbone hurting to find it was my last back tooth, molar (not wisdom, those are gone) and she never got me numb, even putting a shot on the nerve, I nearly peed myself. I have a high pain tolerance, I had kidney stones and would prefer those to this pain. It was sheer torture. I am going to just have them pull it, because this is only phase one, temporary filling with medicine. I can't go through that again and I am not wimp. HORROR
—Guest Kitkat

Had my first R.C. today--no big deal!

I've had a toothache for 3 weeks, after having the same filling replaced three times last month. Turns out I grind my teeth in my sleep. Anyway, the dentist's x-ray showed a problem with the roots, so I went to the endodontist this morning. I was terrified. He was great about it--told me exactly what he was going to do in great detail (which I wanted--I have to know what to expect), then gave me nitrous to calm me down before the numbing shots. The worst part was having the huge old filling removed (again)--that did hurt just a bit. After that was over, the rest was no big deal. Not at all painful, just took a long time to clean out the nerve pulp and pack the tooth with the melted rubber. Now I've got a temp filling, zero toothache, a teeny bit of pain where my gums were injected (which Motrin is handling nicely) and a large bill because my stupid insurance did not cover the procedure. No need to be afraid of this procedure. I would not hesitate to do this again if needed.
—Guest Guest Kathy

Amazing procedure

I was petrified of having a root canal for an abscessed tooth. I put it off for 10 years and suffered from infection after infection. I moved in the last 2 years and had to find a new dentist. He treated one infection and told me I either have the root canal or he wouldn't treat more infections. I finally realized I had no choice and had to overcome my fears. Had the procedure yesterday. I was a nervous wreck, heart racing, the works. It was truly not horrible at all! Took me about 15 minutes to calm down and I needed two shots of Novocaine in the affected area. But they didn't have to numb my whole mouth. It took about 45 minutes total because they did 3 x-rays from start to finish. No pain, only some pressure as they cleaned the canals. This dentist is amazing and that probably makes a big difference. When the numbness wore off, no pain at all. There was some tenderness in the gums but that was it. If I can do it, anyone can. It was nothing like I imagined and wasted anxiety.
—Guest NRoot

Root Canal Today!

Two days ago I went to the dentist because my tooth had been hurting a lot and I could see black through a filling that was there. They told me I had an abscessed tooth and needed a root canal (on a permanent tooth). They put me on antibiotics for the abscessed tooth. Today I had the root canal and my mouth is still numb (I left the dentist 3 hours and 19 mins. ago) but this is probably because my mouth didn't numb in the right spot so they gave me more. I only felt a couple little jolts of pain that lasted about a second each. Getting a root canal isn't as bad as I imagined it would be. P.S. Next week I have to go put a cap on the tooth.
—Guest numb face!

Perfect Visit

I have had several Root Canals. To much soda :) I had a dead tooth in the front that had turned black and another that had significant decay so Root Canal time again. I must say the Dentist and assistant I had this time was top notch. I didn't even feel the shot. Took about an hour and half for both. No pain meds was prescribed and none was really needed. The only pain is the injection sites for the lanicain but an over the counter pain reliever worked for that. All and all I can't say I have ever had a bad experience with a root canal.
—Guest Ime

No reason to panic

I've had four root canals and (lucky me) am about to go for a fifth. All four were painless. Your jaw gets a bit sore because you have to keep your mouth open for so long, but that's no big deal. Definitely go to an endodontist - they've got all the magic gizmos and the experience to keep the procedure pain free. The worst part is the (misplaced) anxiety you have while they're drilling away and then having to get the crown afterwards- expensive!! But be happy you're not losing the tooth. Plus, getting to see the images of the root canals on the monitor is cool.
—Guest Lynne

Why the "no after pain" myth?

Went to a special endo center for a root canal. I had a RC when I was in my early 20's and I don't recall being in any pain- it was a top molar, same as this. It's now capped. Yesterday's app't took 2 1/2 hours - I had 4 canals, one very tiny, that needed to be cleaned and filled. I was numb to my eyes and the dentist used a mouth guard, to avoid stuff falling into my mouth. Some people don't like it, but it worked fine for me. Has no gas, but I drifted off to sleep after a while; it was not stressful for me.I Had lots of Novocaine and the most uncomfortable thing was that I needed to go to the bathroom about an hour into it. Sent me home with Percocet; and antibiotics. I didn't need the perc-just took Advil when I got home and nothing overnight. But now it's agony to accidentally bite on it - OUCH! They told me that would happen for about a week. So why do dental websites insist it is painless afterward?? I would think Endo's who do this every day know are a better source.
—Guest Kel

Worst yet

I had my first root canal yesterday and am now sitting up in he middle of the night with the worst pain I have ever experienced. I am just hoping that it will go away soon as I normally tolerate pain well, but this is almost too much! Make sure your Dentist supplies you with the strongest pain reliever available, just in case.
—Guest Kurt


My tooth was so infected that they gave me two shots of Novocaine and it didn't numb. She started the procedure and I had to feel everything. It was so painful that she had to stop halfway put a cap on it gave me antibiotics and pain killers and told me to come back in a few days. When I came back the shot numbed me and it was fine.
—Guest K

Necessary pain

I've had several root canals. Honestly, you will have much more pain before the root canal than after (eventually). However, the process itself is uncomfortable. Immediately following the procedure I always felt great - everything was still numb, and I felt better than I had in weeks. However, once the Novocaine wears off, it can be agony, depending how complicated that tooth was. Molars have more roots and therefore more complications. I just had a re-treatment of an old root canal (10+ yrs old) which had become very painful - apparently, there was a 4th, "hidden" canal that was originally missed, and took much poking and prodding to find the little bugger, so the result is great pain/pressure the day after, not just from the tooth, but very bad headaches, too. I am taking pain meds and antibiotics, optimistic that I'll feel much better after a few days (as I have on past procedures). It's important to relax because stress adds to the pain. Anyone else get wicked headaches after?
—Guest Guest


I was suffering from a frequent tooth pain for a month and I decided to have it checked by the dentist. The X-ray showed I needed a root canal treatment. Much to my disappointment, the tooth which underwent such therapy was not the really one that ached before and until now I'm still experiencing the pain. But anyway, my experience on the therapy was traumatizing. During the first session, it was cool and I felt no pain. I finished the third session and it was still pain free. I was asked to go back for another week for another session. One day while eating a brownie, the temporary filling on my affected tooth suddenly pulled off leaving my tooth opened for a day. I went to the dentist the next day and we started the process all over again. Then, that night, the pain started. Every session there is always a throbbing pain. My dentist told me, there might be a food article that entered the tooth canal that is why I was experiencing pain. I had an anesthesia and she cleaned my tooth.
—Guest Looba

always try sedation

I have done as so many others here and given my endodontist free reign with his shots; and as I knew, it is going to require anesthesia where I will be partially sedated. With some teeth especially bottom molars, it just seems to be impossible to deaden them and when it is also inflamed and infected; then harder. I had four root canals done with sedation and this is the best way to go if you can do it...I am so mad at myself that I did not insist 6 weeks ago that we just schedule sedation. And so anyone knows, I did ask before going to this doc, Did he do sedation dentistry and was told yes, of course. I know now that he only uses that after torturing unintentionally some clients that have difficult teeth. Please all of you whom are experiencing this, please check into sedation dentistry. It may cost more but in the end your pain and all that stress will be worth anything not to go through again....or to me that is true Good luck me and everyone else on this site.
—Guest katz

Worried, But It Went Well!

I am 17 years old, and a root canal was not something I was excited to hear about. This was my very first root canal but it ended up going very well! Trust me, it HIGHLY DEPENDS ON THE SKILL OF YOUR SPECIALIST, No doubts. If you have a bad dentist its going to hurt. Still numb from the shots, but overall not too bad. Still have to go in for the crown.
—Guest Zane


—Guest Im glad i did it
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