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What you Should Know Before Getting a Root Canal

Updated on March 24, 2009


Root canal: just hearing this word may send chills down the spine to all those patients that fear the dentist. Perhaps, the most feared treatment  of all dental procedures, its like if almost everybody has a horror story to tell. If your dentist has just recently told you that you need a root canal, very likely you may feel a bit worried and concerned if this is the very first time. However, no need to worry, times have changed and modern dentistry is here once and for all, to help all the cowards that hate sitting in '' the chair''.

What You Should Know Before Getting a Root Canal

-Root Canals are Faster

While years ago a root canal was done in 2-3 settings requiring multiple appointments, today they can be easily done all in one appointment. Front teeth can generally be done even under an hour, while molars may take up to 2 hours. Of course, the lenght  also depends on various other factors such as  the extension of the work, how collaborative the patient is, and how fast the dentist works.

-Root Canals are no Longer Painful

Nowadays, the only pain felt in most cases, is just the prick of the needle delivering the Novocaine. In the remote event that one would feel pain during the procedure, dentists can give a further anesthetic injection that will numb it up. However, most people report that they feel nothing and some eventually even nod off only to wake up when they are done.

-Dental Raincoats

During a root canal you may be required to wear a type of mask called a rubber dam. This is a protective piece of rubber that is clamped to the tooth and keeps it dry and clean, isolated from the bacteria found in saliva. This also protects the patient from aspiring the caustic bleach that may be used to clean and disinfect the area.

-Report your medications

Root canal is a type of surgery, so it is best that you let your dentist always know about all the medications you are taking. You should tell your dentist upfront if you have been taking aspirin or any anticoagulant drugs because these may interfere with blood clotting causing prolonged bleeding and potential swelling.

-After Care

While the root canal procedure is painless in most cases, once the anesthesia wears off, it is not unusual to feel pain, This pain may be moderate and in some cases even severe. It usually subsides after a couple of days. Warm rinses with salted water may be helpful. Ask you dentist about what type of pain medication you should take if this would be the scenario.

-Consult with the Specialists

If you are concerned about your root canal consult with an endodontist which are the root canal specialists par excellence. These guys do root canals on a daily basis and they have seen them all.

Root canals no longer need to be feared. If you are a coward, cheer up, as very likely once out of the dentist's office you will smile at how insignificant the procedure was. Many people state that a root canal nowadays, almost feel like getting a filling or even better.


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      Helen J 6 years ago

      Ive been having route canal work on one of my back molars. Apparently I have what they call a hot tooth which is where the nerve is still alive. Twice now I've had the stuff to kill the nerve and it's not worked. Also the numbing stuff despite having 2 doses each time doesn't even touch the pain when they get to the nerve. It is extremely painfully. I've even given birth and I'd say the pain does come fairly close to this, although luckily doesn't last as lowih all the stories about

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      dennishobson 8 years ago

      Ther are still some dentists who believe multiple appointments are best for root canals that are very troublesome or how bad it is. Especially some of the medical tourism cosmetic dentists. I however, would prefert the one-time deal.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 8 years ago from USA

      Thanks for the comments. I had one done just yesterday. Took exactly 1 hour and a half of which 15 minutes were spent waiting for the anesthetic to take effect. No pain at all. My dentist said that usually root canals that are painful are because there is an abscess, but this can be easily taken care of with an extra novocaine injection (I think he said with the injection directly into the root or something like that)

      I also noticed every time I get the novocaine shot I get a fast heartbeat and sort of jittery, he finally told me it was because the novocaine has epinephrine in it and that's why. Nice to know, I always thought I was just being too anxious!

    • ocbill profile image

      ocbill 8 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice

      Ther are still some dentists who believe multiple appointments are best for root canals that are very troublesome or how bad it is. Especially some of the medical tourism cosmetic dentists. I however, would prefert the one-time deal.

    • jim10 profile image

      jim10 8 years ago from ma

      I thought you would just type. "It hurts!" I am glad I was wrong. Luckily I have great teeth and never needed a root canal. It is good to know all of the improvements in working on a root canal. I had all 4 of my wisdom teeth taken out and it didn't hurt at all with the nitrous oxide. I couldn't take the medicine my doctor prescribed for the pain it made me feel really sick. So I just took some Motrin. Salt water works great for healing. I used some black sea salt I got from Trader Joe's for a rinse. My Oral Surgeon was amazed at how fast I was healing.