People don’t say ” I would rather get a root canal” because they are fun. Usually it is a comparison to something unpleasant. “Did you hear Trumps speech on the budget?” “No, I would rather have a root canal” That sort of thing. I am here to tell you that a root canal is actually a lot less painful that listening to Trump say anything. In fact, at the end I will list more awful things that are way worse than your average root canal.
Some people look up procedures before they go get them. It helps take the mystery out of it when they know exactly what is going on. Others don’t want to know anything about it, and just want it to be over. I fall somewhere in the middle. I close my eyes the entire time the dentists is working on me. I have no desire to see what she is putting in my mouth. Nor, do I want to see her eyes all bugged out in the magnifier. I’ll skip that, thanks. However, if you want to the know the exact process, I suggest you read this great article by the American Dentist Academy. It explains the procedure really well.
What I am about to share is how the root canal feels… the process from checking in to checking out. I hope that this post will make it less scary.
You slowly trudge up the path way to the dentist office, dread filling up your body like poison. The door creeks open and the medicinal smell fills your nose… Sorry, couldn’t resist a little fiction.
After checking it usually there is a little wait, even if you get there on time. Use this time to lather on some chap stick and take two Motrin. Trust me. You’ll be thankful for both once the procedure is over. When you get in the chair there is a lot of activity by the hygienist, filling up water cups, getting the tools ready, placing a bib on you. If they are good, they are also making conversation, “hey did you see that sky today? Talk about blue.” Then the dentist comes in and checks the tooth. Just makes sure it is still there. What she is checking it with is little tool that allows her to see all around the tooth. It is a little circular mirror. Now, this doesn’t hurt, so don’t worry. She might ask for an x-ray to get a better look at the root. They will place this hard plastic thing in your mouth, near the tooth and it can be uncomfortable but not painful. The whole thing takes less than a minute or two. A picture of your super unhappy tooth will pop up on the screen. Now for the fun part. They move the chair down till you are practically laying down and put a numbing cream in your mouth. Then comes the Novocaine. This is literally my least favorite part. The injection of Novocain has to go around the entire tooth, and into the nerves, otherwise the pain would be unbearable. Keep that in mind. The dentist will inject as much as needed and it will feel exactly like needle going into your gums. Then its over. Any pain you had from the tooth is gone, and the slight pain for the needle is gone. The whole side if your mouth is now blissfully numb. The dentist will give the Novocain a few minutes to set in before stating . Honestly, the worst is over. You now just need to relax.
Again, I am not entirely sure what goes on when. I know sometimes the root canals can take more than one visit, and I can only tell you what I feel while lying there wishing I was anywhere else. Sitting in traffic in the Hamptons, taking a test, listening to Trump try talk about anything other than himself, pushing out a baby, the underworld, you get the picture. The hygienist will put a thing in your mouth to suck out saliva, gross I know and also not so fun, this is why you will be thankful for chap stick. You feel a slight vibration, hear some mechanical noises. There is honestly a lot going on. Vibrations – that don’t hurt, the dentist poking around your mouth, that just feels weird, more vibrations and mechanical sounds. Then they might do another x-ray to make sure they got everything. Next they need to seal it with a temporary seal. They need to make sure the root canal is happy before putting a crown.
As I said, you might have to go in more than once, depending on the severity of your tooth. Most visits will go exactly as I have explained. With the worst pain being paying your bill!
You are done. You get up, with a numb mouth and leave. The sun is shining, the birds are signing, and your free. Until your next appointment.
After care – I would strongly suggest take more Motrin as soon as you can drink with out spilling all over yourself. Stick to soft foods if you can. At least for a few days. The tooth and surrounding area will be tender.
Things that are worse than root canals:
Honestly – traffic. When you are running late or just want to get to where you are going, traffic is the devil.
Periods – they are rotten, the pain is rotten, the emotional upheaval is rotten, the whole thing is bull shit. Needs to be rethought.
Paper cuts – kidding root canal is worse, but paper cuts are so painful am right?
Migraine – way worse that a root canal – trust me.
The stomach virus. You know the one. WAY worse than a root canal. I would take ten root canals over one of these any day.
Getting hit in the face with a nerf dart. At close range. Okay maybe isn’t more painful but still. It hurts.
Stepping on Lego with bare feet! Nuff said.
Just remember that dentistry has come a long way. It is not long the torture chair that it used to be. If you really have fears about going and have put off going for too long, talk to friends who go, family, co-workers, get recommendations for dentists in your area. Go there and speak with the dentist before committing to them. My dentist is partially in network, which means she takes my insurance but instead of being 80% its 60% or something, but because I love her and trust her, I am willing to pay the extra. Finding a dentist you trust is worth it.