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  1. #1
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    My first root canal

    Saw a new dentist a couple of weeks ago, since ours retired. No major problems with my teeth, had x-rays and all that about a year ago at the old dentist.

    But the new one says I need a root canal. I have no pain in any of my teeth, though at least one tooth is mostly filling at this point. Wasn't prescribed antibiotics. Procedure is tomorrow.

    Of course now I'm googling around and wondering if it's the right thing to do. How long do these things last? If there's no pain or infection in the tooth at the moment, is it even necessary? What's the latest/greatest procedure for these? They don't sedate for this- should I pop a couple of oxycontins beforehand?

    You moreons have a wealth of collective experience so I like hearing what Loungers have to say.

  2. #2
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    I had one done. I was lucky... I had it done by a guy who specializes in them, does nothing else, and is a real master at it, apparently. For me, it was really little worse than having a cavity filled.

    But not everyone has that experience.

    Perhaps you should get a second opinion before having your RC done. I think most dentists are on the up and up, but there's the occasional guy who leans towards 'more work on your mouth' no matter what.

    For instance, the one bad dentist I've ever had told me that I needed three wisdom teeth pulled... and like now. I didn't believe him, for other reasons (he was kind of a creepy guy, and another patient of his told me he was having money problems). All other dentists I've ever dealt with have told me the same thing - you only need one wisdom tooth pulled, and there's no huge huge rush.

    So, I dunno. My admittedly limited advice would be, get a second opinion if you haven't already, and if you do need to get it done, get it done by someone who specializes almost exclusively in them/does them all day long.

    But, that's me. YMMV.




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  3. #3
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    Hmm. I'm not a dentist nor do I play one on the interweb, so I can't judge your situation. In my case several root canals have resulted from a tooth being damaged into, or almost into, the quick. I'm told that once the quick is exposed, saving it is a long, losing battle that's best avoided.

    The procedure is no fun but it's plenty bearable if you have a good Dr., just local anesthetic and some mild soreness after. You'll probably have to wear a strange but not uncomfortable temporary crown for a week or two.

    Relax and open wide! (sorry, couldn't resist) Best wishes. I'm sure you'll be fine.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobf View Post
    Relax and open wide! (sorry, couldn't resist) Best wishes. I'm sure you'll be fine.
    And, just remember... it could always be worse.



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  5. #5
    Cooper1960
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    Did you ask for an explanation? I have had several root canals but it is always because a tooth flares up.

    I would find out why it's being suggested. And remember the dentist works for you, if he gives you a flippant answer like "it's going to go bad" I personally would go to another dentist for a second opinion. Not that it's some life altering procedure...but why do it unless absolutely necessary.
    Miles of agony for moments of ahhh!

  6. #6
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    I think a root canal is specified only when a tooth is causing serious discomfort, but I'm not a dentist either. I'd get a second opinion, and if the Lownje is your second opinion, get a third.

    I had a RC once, that could have been avoided. My pain was caused by a new crown that wasn't properly fitted. A little sanding of the high spot and all would have been OK. Instead I endured the RC, which didn't end the pain, which is how a different specialist discovered that the new crown needed modification. Anyway, if you do get a RC, demand gas in addition to local anesthetic, even if insurance won't cover it and you have to pay for it yourself. I wouldn't have survived the RC but for nitrous.

  7. #7
    pmf
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christine View Post
    Saw a new dentist a couple of weeks ago, since ours retired. No major problems with my teeth, had x-rays and all that about a year ago at the old dentist.
    I'd get a second opinion. Not all dentists are honest about preforming unnecessary treatment. I had one several years ago who said I needed two root canals. I was having no pain. I went to the guy I now go to on a regular basis and he said I didn't need any root canals. I've had no problems with either teeth in years. A friend of mine referred me to that quack dentist. He left him when the guy tried to convince him that he needed to get all his fillings replaced.

    I've had one root canal. I started getting pain in a molar on Friday night. By Sunday is hurt so bad I was tempted to get a pair of pliers and yank the tooth out. On Monday morning I went to my dentist first thing. He x-rayed me and said you need a root canal. He referred to a dentist who only does root canals -- nothing else. I forget the exact specialty. Before I left the dentist gave me a shot of novacaine --- instant relief.

    They don't sedate you for this like the do for wisdom teeth. That's a far more complicated procedure. Basically, they pump you full of novacaine and drill down into the nerve. You don't feel anything. I do recall it smelling a little dank because, well, there was decay in there. They clean the root out and pack it full of something and then cap it off. You come back in a week and the clean it out again, fill it with cement or something and then cap the hole. I think a crown is worse. They grind the tooth down to a nub, make a fake tooth and glue it on. Most times if you get a root canal, you need a crown after it's done. My dentist has a machine that makes the tooth right in his office while I wait. Costs a bit more, but I'm in there and out in 3 hours. The other approach is they make a mold (not a fun process) and ship it off to a lab. A week later you come back in. In the meantime, they put a temporary crown on. These never fit that well, and I had one come off on a fishing trip once.

    Aside from the physical discomfort, it hurts the most financially. And I've even got dental insurance.

  8. #8
    Roll Out Jeremy
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    I've had two dentists. The first fixed something every time I went in. The second has never fixed anything, after 6 years...hmmmm...
    Quote Originally Posted by pmf View Post
    I'd get a second opinion. Not all dentists are honest about preforming unnecessary treatment. I had one several years ago who said I needed two root canals. I was having no pain. I went to the guy I now go to on a regular basis and he said I didn't need any root canals. I've had no problems with either teeth in years. A friend of mine referred me to that quack dentist. He left him when the guy tried to convince him that he needed to get all his fillings replaced.

    I've had one root canal. I started getting pain in a molar on Friday night. By Sunday is hurt so bad I was tempted to get a pair of pliers and yank the tooth out. On Monday morning I went to my dentist first thing. He x-rayed me and said you need a root canal. He referred to a dentist who only does root canals -- nothing else. I forget the exact specialty. Before I left the dentist gave me a shot of novacaine --- instant relief.

    They don't sedate you for this like the do for wisdom teeth. That's a far more complicated procedure. Basically, they pump you full of novacaine and drill down into the nerve. You don't feel anything. I do recall it smelling a little dank because, well, there was decay in there. They clean the root out and pack it full of something and then cap it off. You come back in a week and the clean it out again, fill it with cement or something and then cap the hole. I think a crown is worse. They grind the tooth down to a nub, make a fake tooth and glue it on. Most times if you get a root canal, you need a crown after it's done. My dentist has a machine that makes the tooth right in his office while I wait. Costs a bit more, but I'm in there and out in 3 hours. The other approach is they make a mold (not a fun process) and ship it off to a lab. A week later you come back in. In the meantime, they put a temporary crown on. These never fit that well, and I had one come off on a fishing trip once.

    Aside from the physical discomfort, it hurts the most financially. And I've even got dental insurance.
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  9. #9
    Frog Whisperer
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    a root canal is essentially killing the tooth, they drill into the core, remove all the live tissue and plug it with stuff. If you didn't go to the dentist with a problem, there is a chance that there is none. I would question his reason for a root canal.
    Of course I'm sure...that doesn't mean I'm right.....

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  10. #10
    Schuylkill Trail Bum
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    I've had 2 root canals.

    But I had pain both times as a result of infection deep under an existing filling.

    I get regular dental checkups and x rays.

    I've never been told I just needed a root canal where there's no pain, infection, etc.

    Sounds fishy if you ask me.

  11. #11
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    They did take x-rays, and that's how they determined the need for one. I don't even know which tooth.

  12. #12
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    I've had my share of dental work, and here's what I understand:

    Root canals are forever. They kill the tooth, and therefore you should crown them within a year or so to keep things structurally sound.

    Root canals are needed for things like infection, broken teeth, serious pain, abscessed condition, stuff you would know about. These things all hurt a lot.

    Root canals are expensive. Some practices are more enthusiastic about giving them than other practices.

    Get another opinion.

    Good luck.

  13. #13
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    I've had a root canal & hubby has had one. We only had to get them because of the pain. I got an infection in the canal where my nerves are (that was painful) & hubby's nerves became exposed when he got a crown & the pain didn't stop after 6 months.

    I second what others have said, get a second opinion.
    While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions. - Stephen R. Covey.

  14. #14
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Thanks! I did leave a message to cancel, it's for tomorrow morning though. Guess I'll eat the cancellation cost, serves me right for not really questioning it until the last minute.

  15. #15
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    If you have a cavity that gets into the nerve area, it will get infected sooner or later. Keep a lookout for any swelling of the gum area. The pressure from the puss build up is what causes the pain.
    If your opinion differs from mine, ..........Too bad.
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  16. #16
    Matnlely Dregaend
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    I do play a dentist, not on TV. Sorry, there is no way to answer your question without looking at the X-ray. Yes it is possible to need a root canal even though there is no pain. If you have an abscess this could lead to bad things if left untreated, including... well, like I said, bad things. As in messing up your NNCing for a while. Think of it like riding your bike with a chain link pin half way out... it's gonna result in something messy eventually! It is worth going for a second opinion for sure.
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  17. #17
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    Dr Smile is correct.

    The biggest misunderstanding many folks seem to believe about their teeth that pain is the main indication of trouble. There are many oral pathologies which may not cause pain but are still risky to the health of your teeth, gums and worse. That includes root canal infections which become evident on xrays (eg root canal infection spreading out the root-end of the tooth into the bone, causing resorption of the bone as seen on xrays)

    Root canals are not taken on lightly by dentists. They are clinically challenging and come with significant responsibilities taken on by the dentist. It is a procedure to try and save the tooth and get the patient out of pain back to health, and so you don't need a high dollar implant or inconvenient denture.

    oh and wisdom teeth are better off outta there, for most.

    (I am not a dentist, I am a dental hygienist, my wife is a dentist)

  18. #18
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    For the second opinion, maybe I should go to an endodontist? Sucks when doctors retire.

  19. #19
    pmf
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christine View Post
    They did take x-rays, and that's how they determined the need for one. I don't even know which tooth.
    Dr. Quack took x-rays of me too. Unless you are trained to read them, it's hard to make heads or tails of one. Plus, they generate money. I bet he took a couple.

  20. #20
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  21. #21
    pmf
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christine View Post
    For the second opinion, maybe I should go to an endodontist? Sucks when doctors retire.
    That's who did mine. The guy only did root canals. Some general dentists do them and some do not. It's never a bad idea to go to a specialist, although I think the majority of the patients they see are referred by their dentists.

    I remember him going on about what a travesty it is about how much professional athletes get paid, and then billing me $1700 for about 2 hours worth of work. And that was 20 years ago.

  22. #22
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    I've had several root canals, successfully. One was an abcessed tooth that was causing considerable pain, others were teeth with multiple fillings that had broken and allowed decay into the core.

    But I've also had dishonest dentists who recommended procedures that weren't necessary. When I got an opinion elsewhere, the second dentist said, "wtf?" I didn't have the unnecessary procedure, and I didn't go back to the first dentist.

    Get a second opinion, and see if you can get some track record and multiple objective reviews on the new dentist (might be worth signing up with Angie's List for a month or two).

    Anytime a health-care provider recommends something without VOLUNTEERING a very full explanation, my antennae go up. Some of them are just bad communicators, but some of them are unscrupulous scammers.
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  23. #23
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    My dentist sent me to an endodontist after seeing something he didn't like on an x-ray. The endo did a CT scan, said the tooth (#12) couldn't be saved, and referred me to an oral surgeon for an implant. I decided to put it off. When I saw the dentist again earlier this year he gave me his own referral to a surgeon but wasn't insistent I go immediately. I think they are treating me as an experiment.

    Anyhow, well over a year has gone by since the initial x-ray, I still have the tooth, and no pain. I see the dentist regularly and am somewhat unhappy a tooth can go from good to unsavable that quickly.

    Regarding your situation, dentists seem to have professional networks of other dentists, endodontists, periodontists, orthodonists, and oral surgeons who are geographically close and roughly their contemporaries. They refer as needed. I'd be leery of a jack-of-all-trades.
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  24. #24
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    Cracked a tooth on one of my wife's tender steaks when we were first dating and she was just learning to cook, going back over 15 years. They'd always bring it up during exams/cleanings so I figured I'd deal with it when the time came. Few years ago I'd get a mild pain and it'd go away in a couple of hours. As time went on the intensity got a little greater and it occured a little more frequently until 4 days ago. OMG.
    Currently gnawing on some ibuprofen...
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  25. #25
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    No clue but I would definitely suggest not going with the "I'll just wait until it bothers me to much and then deal with it" option if you are convinced you will need one sooner or later anyway.

    I had a tooth I knew was going to be a problem go bad overnight. Went from feeling just a little to what looked like I had a baseball in my mouth (no exaggeration there) and unreal pain overnight. I was out of the country at the time so couldn't deal with it right away either resulting in the worse 3 days I've ever experienced.
    The pain was so bad and relentless that I tried to yank the tooth myself and sticking pins in my mouth hoping that draining the gunk would help. Neither was a success.
    And I'm not the type who thinks I know how to do dental work or would ordinarily think sticking myself with pins is smart. The pain was so bad it drove to try anything I could think of.

    Sorry about the story but I mention it because I can't stress enough to not wait (assuming you're convinced it's inevitable). I know reading about 3 days of pain on the internet might not sound to bad but trust me, don't chance having it go really bad by waiting.
    The thing about bad tooth pain, as opposed to, say, smashing your toes with a hammer, is it just doesn't go away.

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