I hate root canals. And I should know, before today I'd had 5. Don't take care of my teeth you say? Ugh! ON THE CONTRARY! I just didn't inherit my mother's good teeth, rather my father's poor ones (just my luck!) and I can remember having abscesses in my gums when I was in second grade.
Of course, if you saw my teeth you'd think I was nuts - they look great. And that's why appearances can be deceiving. They look good 'cause I take good care of them and have spent a small fortune on them (and yet not quite as much as the baby pursuit! :)
Anyway, the only painless root canal I had was my first - at 15. I was riding my ten-speed bike when the chain slipped off, I lost control and had a collision with a white car that then had a big splotch of red blood all over it. Well, the impact to my front tooth was enough to kill the nerve instantly. So I went to the dentist and he did the root canal, sans Novocaine. Didn't feel a thing.
In my 20's, I had 3 more and all were very painful - started out as a tooth ache. But the one I had 7 years ago is something I will never forget. The pain of the procedure was excruciating. My teeth seem difficult to numb. I cried and I screamed MANY times. One time I actually flailed my arms in a completely involuntary act and my dentist said that was a very unwise move when he was holding sharp instruments in my mouth - as if I could help it!!! I wanted to kick him square in the nuts with a steel tipped boot and scold him for bending over in pain. It's a reaction I couldn't possibly have controlled.
So, when my back molar started to hurt weeks ago, I began the spiral of anxiety and panic. Oh my God, I can't go through that again - I just can't! My dentist is on vacation so I saw his partner last Saturday and thought for sure I would need a root canal. Lucky for me, the x-ray of my roots and the tooth he was tapping on which felt most sensitivity was not the tooth I claimed the pain was coming from, rather the one next to it. He suggested a fluoride varnish on my teeth and see if it helps - can't hurt - and call him if it doesn't work. Well it didn't work and I went back in yesterday. But we still couldn't agree on which tooth was the problem and this is why I said "lucky for me," he referred me to a practice of endodontists.
I went this morning at 9:15 am. I was shaking when the lovely doctor entered the room. She was a super attractive, very contemporary Indian woman with a gentle demeanor and kind nature. There are 9 doctors in the practice and I think everything was going my way that I got her, to boot.
Let me just say this, if ANYONE out there needs a root canal ever (and I hope you don't), DO NOT go to a dentist - I don't care how much you love yours!!! Go to an endodontist. Not only are root canals ALL THEY DO (so that should tell you something about expertise) but these guys have equipment that was beyond impressive. Microscopes over he chair that can find the teeniest cracks. The worst part was the freezing method she uses to determine which tooth is the sensitive/problem one. But that gave it away as tears streamed from my eyes.
She gave me the initial injection and when I was numb, about another half dozen injections. Then she tested my tooth again with the freezing method - but I still felt some pain (slight but there). This is where my regular dentist would have said "fuck it" and just started drilling. Not her. She gave me another half dozen injections (remember, I felt none of it 'cause my gums were numb) and another freezing test - I still felt some pain. Then she said something to her assistant and told me I was proving more difficult to numb than usual and I got scared but nope, she then did something else - she seemed to drill into the side of my tooth (I felt none of it) and put something in it (maybe like a funnel to pour novicane directly into the channel of the tooth). I saw none of this, of course - I just could imagine. Freezing test again and I felt nothing - nada! Whew!
Then she was in and cleaning out the canals in less than 4 minutes - no kidding. And they have this little mouth piece you wear that stops you from biting down accidentally and a dental dam to keep all of the debris out of your throat and glasses to protect your face from the flying debris. I mean, it was such a professional operation (literally and figuratively) and do you know how much the root canal hurt?
NOT ONE IOTA! I cannot believe I just wrote that but it didn't.
I have to go back for them to close up the tooth in early December but that part is a nothing - the hard part is done. I'm actually going to write her a note in a few days to thank her again. I wanted to kiss her, I tell ya.
So learn from my lack of knowledge if you're ever in my shoes: ENDODONTIST! :)