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Afraid of A Root Canal? Don't Be

Updated on September 27, 2009

I just got back from having my first root canal. To say that I have dreaded this day for weeks would be an understatement. Talk of drilling, filing, filling, not to mention oral injections was more than enough to make me put off going to the dentist for, oh, at least three months. So if you happen to be one of the many people afraid of the dentist and afraid of the root canal, I greet you as a fellow brother or sister in the covenant of dental paranoia.

How bad am I? Well, lets just say that one male dentist nearly lost his prize jewels when I accidentally / impulsively lashed out during an attempted injection. I left the office that day with a numb lip and a still infected tooth because I wouldn't / couldn't let him do his thing. I went back to another dentist months later when it finally got too much and lo and behold, the dentist from my first encounter had moved to that dental surgery. Oh how we laughed, and this time he extracted my wisdom tooth without anyone losing any body parts (apart from the wisdom tooth, which was fairly surplus to requirements anyway.)

Nevertheless, my fears returned in droves when a dentist informed me that I would need a root canal on my front tooth. I went into the dental underground for months before deciding to woman up and just get it taken care of.

If you are similarly terrified of dentists and the prospect of a root canal, let me offer you this piece of solace. It's absolutely, totally not a big deal. Ignore all the 'horror' stories on the Internet, you'll be fine.

The worst part of the whole proceedings was the injection to numb the tooth. I lay back in the chair with a resting heartbeat akin to a gazelle on the run from a pack of wolves and allowed the dentist to do her worst however. It was at this point that I realized what makes the difference between a good dental experience and a bad one – it is the dentist.

If your dentist allows you to feel pain, never go back to them. I've had several dentists over the years and the best ones do everything in their power to ensure that you are comfortable. In most cases, dental procedures do not need to be anything more than mildly uncomfortable and a little odd feeling. You're going to be paying through the nose for any dental care you get, so make sure you get a dentist you are comfortable with. Dentist chair side manner counts too. If you have yourself a nice dentist, your experiences will be vastly improved.

Allow me to return to my root canal. I was, of course, ignoring everything Douglas Adams had ever taught the world and panicking quietly in the chair, but a few minutes of perseverance and the injection was over. The whole time the nice lady dentist and her assistant were very reassuring and that made things much more manageable.

If you're wondering how the rest of the root canal goes, it's a bit of drilling (doesn't hurt at all,) in which they find the root, a bit of scraping with pointy things (to clean the canal out, also doesn't hurt,) a bit of enlarging with a drill (similarly painless,) and then a bit more cleaning, well, a lot more cleaning, and a temporary filling is put in place. They take x rays mid process as well to ensure that they get the length of your canals right.

It's really honestly not that big of a deal and if I can handle it (me who came home with liquid antibiotics because I'm too prissy to swallow pills,) then you certainly can!


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    • KT Banks profile image

      KT Banks 7 years ago from Texas

      Well, I have to say I'm happy for you, and proud of you. but so far, I've had 3 different root canals and they were all pretty bad. Like you, I try to be brave, and then the pain begins. Read my hub -Root Canals Suck, and see what I mean.

      This one nice guy is trying to help me find a good Endodontist.