Root Canals — A Necessary Evil

 Posted by on June 12, 2012 at 6:31 am  Health  No Responses »
Jun 122012
Dental instruments

Dental instruments

A couple of weeks ago, I suddenly wasn’t feeling very well with a headache and some vague, intermittent pain on the right side of my face. Initially, I attributed the discomfort to sinus inflammation from allergies. However, a couple of days later, the pain abruptly increased in intensity and I was left awake all night due to severe facial pain on my right side. Having had previous tooth abcesses and root canals, I suspected this might be a dental problem.

I cancelled my appointments the following morning and immediately went to see my general dentist. She didn’t see anything unusual on the X-rays of my right upper molar but recommended that I get evaluated by an endodontist. I was lucky to get an appointment a few hours later with a highly rated endodontist. Based on my signs and symptoms, he recommended a root canal or extracting the tooth even though the X-rays did not show an abscess or other abnormality. Apparently, some dying teeth may not show signs on X-rays. I hesitantly agreed to the root canal.

The entire procedure took almost two hours with him working on two other patients at the same time. He and his staff were as efficient as a Toyota assembly line. The cost of the root canal before insurance coverage was about $1,500 so this dentist was probably the owner of one of the luxury cars I saw in the parking lot.

I recall that my root canals as a teenager were painful but assumed that, a few decades later, they would now have invented a totally painless procedure. Nope. Not by a mile! Everything was fine and pleasantly numb until the dental drill reached the pulp cavity. That was the first yelp. He promptly applied more local anesthetic and then proceeded to reach the nerve root itself. The second yelp came as he scraped away the nerve root with his little root canal file. This was repeated two more times since I had three roots on my molar.

At least my endodontist seemed like he had done this procedure hundreds of times. I could tell this by his fluid motion and lack of wasted effort while working on the tooth. The handing off of instruments and materials with his assistant was flawless. Sometimes, he didn’t even need to say what he wanted before it was handed to him.

The brief pain was well worth it. A few hours after the root canal, my face was once again pain-free. And I slept soundly that night. The root canal is supposed to last my lifetime. Hopefully, this will be the last root canal of my lifetime.