Around eight years ago, I was doing gymnastics in my kitchen, which has hard tile floor. You can probably guess where I'm going with this... I fell on my face, cracked my tooth, and the piece that broke off went through my lip and half way across the kitchen. It was bad. It was horrifying. It was painful.
I went to my dentist immediately to get it checked out. Thankfully, it was an easy fix. All they did was fill the part of my tooth that broke off. The problem that kept occurring was that the filling would break off. I had it break off five times. The constant on and off of the filling along with the trauma that happened caused my nerve canal to close.
This made my nerve die. My tooth was dead. You may think that since my tooth was dead there was no pain associated with it. WRONG. For years I have had extreme pain when flossing next to that tooth, drinking cold water, and biting into food. The pain wasn't caused from the nerve... It was caused from bacteria growth inside of my tooth.
My dentists never took x-rays or anything to figure out the problem at hand. I was in pain for years. My dentists just kept refilling the broken tooth without fixing my pain.
Finally, I forced them to do a full mouth 3D x-ray. This x-ray showed them that my nerve canal was closed and that my nerve was dead. It kind of pissed me off that they didn't do the scan earlier, because all this could have been prevented.
This ended in a root canal.
Because of the pain-causing bacteria inside of my dead tooth, I needed a root canal. The root canal would clean out the inside of my tooth, hopefully eliminating any pain. However, my dentist said a root canal would be virtually impossible because of my closed nerve canal - if I don't have a canal, how would they be able to clean it out? They referred me to an endodontist to get a consult to see if a root canal was the best option.
I made a consultation appointment with Endodontics of the Ozarks in Springfield, MO. I went into the office confident. When I sat in the chair, the endodontist, Dr. McFarland, pulled out the numbing injections and started numbing me up. I was so confused.
"Wait, hold up. I thought this was a consult.. Why are you poking me with needles?"
"Oh no honey, it's root canal time!"
I was absolutely mortified. My dentist didn't tell the endodontist office that this was a consult and that my case was hard or that my canal was closed. Dr. McFarland had no idea that my canal was closed - he didn't even see the x-rays that the dentist took.
Once I told him, it caught him by surprise. We had to take another x-ray since my dentist didn't send them. Of course, my canal was closed.
Since Dr. McFarland already numbed me, we went ahead with the procedure anyways. He made sure to explain everything in detail so I understood the procedure. He put me on nitrous gas because he would tell I was nervous. He gave me a fuzzy blanket because I was cold. They turned on the TV on the ceiling so I would be distracted. They did everything in their power to make me comfortable.
Finally, we were ready to get started. The doctor started drilling the hole in the back of my tooth, trying to find my canal. It took him a while, and he was about to give up and close it, but he didn't. He kept going. And he found it. He removed all the gunk in my tooth, sterilized it, and filled the canal with glass. During the whole thing, I didn't experience any pain. He kept making sure I was okay and comfortable.
The whole procedure lasted around 40 minutes - in and out, super quick.
That was yesterday. After the procedure, I had no pain at all. I didn't have any swelling or bruising at all.
I'm writing this today, the day after the procedure, with no pain. I flossed my teeth yesterday - no pain. I drank super cold water - guess what, no pain. There was no recovery time at all, and I was eating a full on meal after the procedure, making sure not to chew with the affected tooth. I was finally free from all the pain.
I know that everyone's experience won't be like mine, but I needed to share my experience at the endodontist. I had the best possible time. I sincerely want Dr. McFarland to be my dentist.
All in all, don't be scared of your root canal. Just breathe. If you need to calm your nerves, ask to be put on nitrous - it really does help you. The numbing injection they use really really works. You won't feel a thing. And that's coming from me, a girl who usually needs 5-6 shots at the dentist just for a cavity filling.
Here is a compiled list of tips for your root canal:
2. Ask for nitrous gas.
3. Do not consent to the treatment until you fully understand the procedure.
4. Make sure you let the doctor know if you are still in pain.
5. Don't use your affected tooth to bite or chew to avoid irritation.
6. Believe in yourself and the endodontic team!