What Happens When You Don’t Care For Your Teeth: Getting a Root Canal Treatment

X-ray of Teeth

Teeth x-ray (not my teeth, by the way—this is just a stock image)

Earlier this week, I got my first root canal treatment. While root canal treatments are supposed to be painless and no more uncomfortable than having a filling, it was a very traumatizing experience for me–I’m ranking it even higher than my U.S. CBP experience on my personal trauma scale. Not fun at all, I’m telling you. >_<’ But first, a low down of how it came about.

How It Started

My day got on an early start when I was rudely awoken at 2am by pain in my lower left molar. Not having had a toothache before, this was an abnormality for me.

Despite much tossing and turning, I couldn’t sleep—the pain kept me awake. A cold compress didn’t help. Not only that, the pain grew by the hour. By 5am, it had evolved into a deep pain and I was no longer able to bite down that area without wincing.

Clearly, something was wrong.

Not wanting to take chances, I set off for National University Hospital (NUH), the only place I knew with extended dental facilities and staff to treat any dental problem right away. Since I was flying to Johannesburg the next day, I wanted to get my toothache looked into, lest it grew into a bigger issue. There was no way I was going on extended travel with a persistent pain in my mouth!

At the Dental Clinic

Fast forward three-and-a-half hours, when I finally got a face-to-face consult with a dentist.

By then, the pain had spread to my jaw area and was giving me a brain-splitting headache (which says a lot as I never have headaches). I was slightly delirious at this point and could barely hold a coherent sentence! I could feel great pressure building up underneath my lower left molar, as if there was a volcano underneath ready to erupt.

By then, I wasn’t even worried that I might have to postpone my South Africa trip. I was more concerned about what was going on in my tooth and whether the damage was fixable/reversible. The former was a temporary problem which could be easily fixed in a minute with a phone call and a few e-mails; the latter were issues which would impact me for life.

The Root Canal Treatment

Needing a Root Canal Treatment

I described my situation to my dentist, a nice and young lady, who quickly sent me off to an x-ray. A cold test, an electric pulp test (I think) and the results of the x-ray confirmed the affected tooth.

Much to my suspicion (and fear), she recommended me to go for a root canal treatment.

What is a Root Canal?

For those who don’t know what a root canal is, it is the space within the root of a tooth which consists of the pulp chamber, the main canal(s), and other smaller canals. This area houses soft tissues such as the nerve, blood vessels, and living connective tissue. The sensory nerves carry signals to the brain and are the reason why you would feel hot/cold/pain sensations in your tooth, while the blood vessels provide nutrition to your pulp. These tissues are what makes your tooth “alive”.

See picture below. The root canal is the dark red, veiny area inside the tooth:

Root Canal

Since the enamel protects the tooth, any decay (thanks to poor oral care) occurs at the enamel layer first. To the point where the decay goes beyond the enamel and into the dentin, bacteria gets access into your pulp chamber, after which they get to start a party inside. Fun for them but not fun for you, I’m telling you.

This is when your tooth/pulp becomes infected:

Infected Tooth

An infected tooth. Notice the abscess at the left root; it’s there because
the infection has spread through the pulp and down into the root.

At this stage, a root canal treatment is recommended.

Root Canal Treatment

A root canal treatment (also referred to as a “root canal”) is the complete removal of the pulp tissue in your root canal and disinfection of the area. It is required when your pulp tissue becomes infected or inflamed; doing so controls the infection since all the pulp, including the disinfected tissues, would be removed.

Root Canal Treatment

Steps of a root canal treatment: First the dentist creates an opening in the infected tooth to
access the pulp chamber. Then, he/she cleans out the pulp (which contains bacteria, blood
vessels, and nerves), after which he/she 
disinfects the space and fills it.

Since the blood vessels and nerves in the pulp are what makes the tooth “alive”, the tooth would be rendered “dead” after the treatment. You would not be able to feel pain or sensations in that tooth ever again.

Because a root canal is a specialized dental procedure and can be quite expensive (mine is an estimated $1,700 SGD / $1,400 USD), some people may resist doing it. However, by leaving the infected tooth untreated, the infection will spread to the whole tooth (and cause you severe pain), during which the tooth will be unrestorable even if you were to opt for a root canal then. Not only that, the infection may spread to an adjacent area and cause further complication.

With a root canal treatment, you have a 70 to 80% success rate of salvaging your tooth, provided you enforce proper oral care.

Why not extract the tooth and save the hassle and money, you ask?

That’s because tooth extraction is the last resort in the dental world. Ideally, you want to save your tooth where possible. When you extract your tooth, it’ll be gone forever. The only options you have thereafter would be to have a tooth implant (which is very expensive, about $3,000 SGD / $2,500 USD per tooth and up), a bridge (fixed partial denture), or dentures.

Going Through with the Root Canal

I’ve always suspected that I would need a root canal for this molar at some point. When I was 17, my dentist warned me that I would probably need a root canal for this tooth in the future because of its large filling, which suggested that the decay had penetrated the enamel layer. While dentists try to fill a tooth as best as possible, the fact that the enamel core has been penetrated means that there is now an opening for bacteria to access and infect your pulp chamber.

Despite practising relatively good oral care since then, it seemed that bacteria still managed to find its way in and infect the chamber.

So here we are. I gave the go-ahead for the treatment, after which the dentist started work right away.

Dental Tools

Dental tools at a clinic

During the Treatment

Despite the anesthesia (which was painfully injected <_<’ ), I could still feel deep pain during parts of the procedure, especially when she was digging up the pulp in two of my canals ( ._. ). The horrors. <_<

As I mentioned in the opening, root canal treatments aren’t supposed to be painful, but if you have an abscessed tooth, the pus may contain acids that inactivate any anesthesia injected. It was possible that my infection was so deep that the anesthesia was unable to anesthetize all the nerves.

Either way, it was traumatizing to feel pain during a procedure and remain perfectly still the whole time. I was afraid that any movement on my end may result in a misstep, so I took special care not to move where possible.

After the Treatment

After an hour, the procedure was finally over.

By then I was totally wasted. The combined experience of (a) having loud drills pressed against my tooth in my mouth, (b) feeling the dentist “dig” up the insides of my tooth with long pointy objects, (c) feeling intense pain that came with the “digging”, and (d) having to keep my mouth open and stay perfectly still the whole time was incredibly exhausting.

I was, however, very glad that the infection was cleared and I was on the path of recovery.

Dental Receipt

My dental receipt. I was classified as an “Emergency II”. I guess an “Emergency I” would be
this guy at the clinic who looked like he was caught into a brawl fight. He walked in with a
bleeding nose, a bandaged arm, and looked as if he might have had his teeth punched out!

Pain After the Treatment

I could still feel pain under my tooth, especially when I bit down—much to my surprise. I thought the tooth was “dead” and shouldn’t have any sensation anymore.

Upon consulting my friend from dentistry, he said that it is normal as root canal infections aren’t limited to within the teeth. There are still nerves outside the root canal, and if the infection has spread that far, I would still feel pain even after the treatment.

Researching online affirmed that. The pain should subside once the infection dies off with the help of antibiotics and the body’s healing power. (It is now three days since the op and the pain has subsided. Yay! :) )

Two More Procedures To Follow

The root canal treatment occurs in three parts and this was only the first part of my treatment, where the dentist cleared the root canals and the infected pulp, placed a temporary dressing inside the canals, and covered the chamber with a temporary filling. We now have to wait for any infection that has spread beyond the root canal to heal itself, before continuing with the treatment. This would take about two weeks.

The second treatment involves replacing the temporary dressing and filling with a permanent filling. It should occur in two weeks, though technically the temporary filling can last up to six months or even a year with proper care. Ideally one shouldn’t wait that long though since the temporary filling isn’t meant as a permanent solution.

I opted to shorten my South Africa trip and return in a month’s time for the second treatment. Hey, ensuring the safety of my teeth/body is more important than personal travel; I can always resume my trip after my treatment is done. I’m only glad that I didn’t have to cancel my flight and miss my host’s wedding (which is happening this Sunday, 31 March). :)

Five Lessons I Learned From This Root-Canal Experience

So after this harrowing experience (and I call it harrowing because the way the situation suddenly escalated from minor toothache to mind-numbing headache to a mini-op where anesthesia didn’t quite work completely), I learned five lessons:

Lesson #1: Importance of proper oral hygiene

This root canal problem really originated from my childhood, because that tooth’s enamel was heavily decayed before I was even conscious about taking care of my teeth. I only wished that my parents enforced proper dental care on me when I was a kid (their biggest hangup was and still is about getting me and my brother filled up), but ultimately I take full responsibility for my dental health (or the lack of it in this case).

Antibiotics

Antibiotics for my root canal. To be completed over seven days.

Personally, I’m just thankful that my other teeth are fine (as of now anyway). Today, I’m very diligent in brushing and flossing every day, even brushing and flossing after every meal when I can. Why deal with dental problems when you can avoid them in the first place? Knowing how painful the ramifications of bad dental care can be, I rather opt for prevention than cure.

Read: How To Attain Healthier Gums and Teeth: Path To Better Oral Hygiene

Lesson #2: Sometime, things are not as bad as you think

I was all prepared to postpone my South Africa trip and inform my hosts about the delay, but it turned out that the problem could be fixed right away with an one-hour op. Not only that, I could still proceed with my trip as per normal.

Sometimes, things aren’t as bad as what you think. Be prepared for the worst-case scenario just to cover your bases, but don’t obsess yourself with that scenario. You don’t become a happier person by worrying about worst case scenarios.

Read: How To Be Happy: 10 Timeless Principles for Lasting Happiness

Lesson #3: Focus on what you can control, not what you can’t control

Focusing on things you can control puts you in the power seat and prevents the situation from overwhelming you. While I was waiting for the hospital’s dental clinic to open, I applied the steps in my recent piece “Ask Celes – How Can I Stop Worrying about Things I Cannot Control?“.

I texted the people I had appointments with later in the day to tell them that I was unable to meet them because of my tooth problem. This eased me a little. I also made a contingency plan for if the toothache was not fixable before my flight: I would simply call the airlines to postpone the flight and contact my hosts. This eased me further.

As I felt hungry since I had not had breakfast, I bought a cold soya milk in NUH’s Mr. Bean. As I was drinking it, I listened to Pink’s Raise Your Glass on repeat to ease myself. I also read up on root canals on my mobile so I would be informed by the time I met the dentist.

By then, I was just disturbed by the intense throbbing pain (which I could only fix when I meet with a dentist) and that my infection would not be fixable. I just told myself that this situation was outside of my control and there was no point worrying about it at all. I could only wait for the clinic to open and focus on things I could do in the meantime. No amount of worrying would change the situation; it would only create unnecessary stress. The pain was already stressful enough and there was no point adding unnecessary stress to myself.

Read a recent related piece: Ask Celes – How Can I Stop Worrying about Things I Cannot Control?

Lesson #4: Dentistry is a noble profession

I’ve always thought of dentistry as a profession like any other, except perhaps that it is more elite than the average job due to the stringent criteria required to be a dentist.

After this experience though, I totally see dentists in a different light. I respect the rigor of their training and that it equips them with the skills to treat life-impacting problems like my tooth infection. Sure the problem could have been avoided if I had taken good care of my teeth as a kid, but I didn’t and I needed a dentist to fix it.

Which my dentist did swiftly, after which I was all patched up and ready to go. Save for the prescribed antibiotics, painkillers, the swelling, and the tolerable pain in my mouth (which eventually subsided), it was as if the infection never occurred. I was able to resume my normal life and proceed with my trip (in fact I’m in Johannesburg as I write this entry), which could not have happened if not my dentist. So, to all dentists out there—thank you so much for helping us with our dental problems!  :clap: 

Lesson #5: True friends show themselves in the worst of situations

After my harrowing dental op, I texted my good friend, L, who was on her way to work. She promptly traveled over to meet me for brunch. This was even though she had already eaten; she just came over to meet me and keep me company. How sweet is that? :hug: 

Life may not be peaches and roses all the time, but that’s what friends are for. They are there to support you when you are down. I’m just grateful that this bad experience brought me and L closer and helped me to see how much she cared about me. I look forward to building our friendship ahead. :hug: 

Read: How To Have More Best Friends in Life: The Heartfelt Guide

How About You?

I hope my sharing helped you to learn a lesson or two. :) I hope to share more of my life’s experiences openly from now on as I believe there is something to learn from everything in life.

Do you have any dental experience to share? What lessons did you learn from it? Do you want me to share the followup on my root canal treatment? Please share them in the comments!

Update June ’13: I have since returned from my South Africa trip and have completed the final two steps of my root canal treatment. No pain at all unlike the first step, thank goodness! I guess since the nerves are now gone, there is no sensation to be felt. Here’s to having clean, healthy, and aesthetically pleasing teeth for life!

Images: Teeth X-rayRoot canal, Infected root canal, Root canal treatment, Dental tools 

  • http://www.caitlinkellycalifornia.wordpress.com Caitlin

    Oh Celes, I am so sorry you had to go through that pain! I am glad they were able to take care of you the same day though. I hope you have a great trip to South Africa, nonetheless. Thanks for writing about your experience. I really enjoy your perspective on Life. :D

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Hi Caitlin, thank you! :D I’m glad as well. That’s why I went to a hospital too–I just felt I would more likely get someone who could treat me immediately vs. going to a dental clinic where they might have to refer me elsewhere because they didn’t have someone specialized to treat me.

      Thanks for your well wishes! I’m in Johannesburg now. It has great weather here! :D

  • http://YourDrawingLessons.com Matt

    That’s lame. I’m glad you got it taken care of. I have had dental pain a few times and I remember the tooth ache spreading to a pulsing headache that made it difficult to focus and also made me irritable. What you experienced sounds 10x worse than anything that has happened to me before.

    A while ago I had work done to fix periodontis on my gums. It’s gum disease that may eventually lead to tooth loss. My dentist used a laser on my gums and I saw little poofs of smoke escape my mouth. I was very uncomfortable despite having anesthetic. I decided it was probably better just to floss my teeth everyday rather than go through that again.

    Hope you’re having fun in Johannesburg. Takes lots of pictures!

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Hey Matt, wow, I’m sorry you had to go through that gum treatment. I’m glad that it’s all done and now you have decided to just take better care of your teeth, like I have. It’s experiences like this that make us realize the importance of certain daily rituals. The good thing is now I innately *want* to floss my teeth regularly, vs. say years ago when I saw flossing as a chore.

      What happened to those toothaches you had which led to pulsating headaches? Were they the result of simple cavities which could be resolved with cleaning and fillings or were they also infected pulp chambers like my case which needed root canal treatments?

      • http://YourDrawingLessons.com Matt

        Once I had a tooth that was already beginning to decay. It was filled like a normal cavity though. Then I had to have my wisdom teeth removed because they were becoming painful.

        Another time I had a root canal and two crowns put in. The procedure itself wasn’t that painful but I had to keep my jaw open for four hours during it. I strained the joint where my jawbone meets my skull. Because of this I had an awful ache from my jaw up to my temple every day for about a month. Both my dentist and physician said nothing could be done except take ibuprofen and give it time. It eventually went away.

        All these things were inconvenient but I agree with your #4 point. I have had the same dentist for nearly all my life and I have great respect for him. I’m grateful that excellent dental care is so readily available to us.

  • http://www.jasminestarnino.com Jasmine

    Oooh, Celes, that’s interesting. Having had a similar experience last year, I discovered that root canals are “changing deeply held beliefs” in “How to heal your life.” (Louise L Hay)

    That was certainly true for me. It was wonderful to use the scary process to work through huge layers of belief and stress around teeth, dentists, fear, pain, etc. and you’re right, it’s hard not to appreciate dentists immensely after that!

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Hi Jasmine, you are right! Any stressful encounter in life is a gold mine of opportunities to work through personal beliefs surrounding stress, fear, mishaps, etc. Besides addressing disempowering beliefs at the mental level, I’m glad that things worked out fine in the end too!

      • http://www.jasminestarnino.com Jasmine

        You too! :)

    • http://www.starsparklex.blogspot.com Moonsparkle

      Hi Jasmine,
      I think I have some beliefs about my teeth and dentists too. I’ve had bad experiences with my teeth and I’ve been to quite a few dentists. I like the one I’m at now. I used to really hate going but it’s gotten better now. I don’t think I’ve actually read How to heal your life but I’ve heard a lot about it. I’ve been working on my own beliefs about different things lately.

      • http://www.jasminestarnino.com Jasmine

        Hey Moonsparkle! Good for you for working on your beliefs about things!

        What I found most helpful was using the actual time in chair when the things are in your mouth, to consciously work through my patterns in my head.

        I think I mostly tried to work up the emotional scale (Abraham – Hicks) by reaching for “the next best feeling thought”, http://www.discoveringpeace.com/the-abraham-hicks-emotional-guidance-scale.html

        Like…” Even though I’m feeling afraid now I know I won’t always be afraid. And even though this experience is painful, the lady is very nice. And even though I don’t like being here and I’m uncomfortable, I’m very happy that I live in a countr with dentists…”

        (I also thought a lot about tooth extraction in medieval times…no anesthetic, and it was life-threatening. That provoked strong feelings of gratitude no matter how upset I was at the time!)

        Somehow doing this in the chair, it during the actual experience, was far more effective than telling myself things when I was brushing my teeth or not actually immersed in the experience.

        Good luck shifting all your patterns!

        • http://www.starsparklex.blogspot.com Moonsparkle

          Thank you, good for you for working on your beliefs too. :) I’ve read Ask and it is Given, I think the idea of reaching for the “next best feeling thought is a good one”. If you try to make it from really sad to happy, it’s too big a jump. Thanks for the link, I’ll save it so I can look at the Emotional Guidance Scale online too. :) It makes a difference if you’ve got a nice dentist, especially one who understands nervous patients.

          Oh yes, we’re really lucky to have anaesthetic and all the advanced technology these days. It must have been horrible in medieval times! It’s a similar thing with glasses and eye operations, in the old days people would have been much more likely to go blind or have more eye problems because they didn’t have glasses and all the technology they do now.

          I think that’s a good idea to work on the patterns while you’re in the chair. Good luck with shifting your patterns as well! :)

        • http://www.starsparklex.blogspot.com Moonsparkle

          P.S. I just checked out your site, it looks interesting. :)

  • Bette

    Ohhh Celes…
    What an ordeal you went through with your root canal experience! Although it was extremely stressful and painful, how fortunate that the most dramatic part of the incident occurred within 24 hours!! THAT is what I call efficiently sailing through with flying colors! You were, under the circumstances, very fortunate….to get yourself to the right place and get the right kind of professional help. And on top of that, to still be able to go ahead with your travel plans. Amazing really when you think of all the things that could have happened instead. But we won’t go THERE…rather stay right here in this moment of gratitude for all the good fortune and good decisions. I trust that your mouth is happy and healthy and your trip held many happy surprises. :D

    And yes, many if not most of us could make vast improvements in our oral care. Often we just think that we can neglect our mouth care, which makes no sense when we become really aware of how important are our teeth and gums. If the area between the gum and the tooth isn’t flossed, that area gets irritated and trouble can then get worse and go deeper. During my lifetime, I have lost teeth due to many factors, :( but less loss would have occurred had I been more careful with a disciplined diet, and diligent, persistent oral care. And as you have mentioned, choices that involve implants, crowns, and bridges due to improper care, tooth loss, and gum disease, are very costly. So all you out there, put aside any complacency or laziness or procrastination and go deeper for a different mindset would be my encouragement. I know, “yeah yeah,” and “later” was what I’d think when I heard that….I’m just sayin’….what Celes describes in this real life article is a gift…to disclose the whole experience and what she learned. Words to the wise….

    On that point, Celes, yes I find it very valuable when you share your real life experiences and what you learn from them. Even how they relate to articles you have written. When I read the nitty-gritty experiences that happen in someone’s life, I receive so much….it is informative, and motivating, and elicits emotions and I learn a lot about you personally, and others in the world, all of whom I would not otherwise know. It connects the human experience for me. And to see how you apply what you write about in your articles in your life experiences is inspiring. Even when you are in pain or have flashes of worry. How you transmute that worry. Again, inspiring. :D

    As a side note, I have found interesting the subject of pain and how I have at times gotten myself into the mindset of not labeling the sensations of pain as bad or scary, etc., but to just experience the sensation of pain as a sensation.. Now, realize that I would rather not experience pain, and I realize that pain is good information to pay attention to so further complications do not ensue, but I try not to fall prey to looking at the experience as an awful thing, but as one that needs to be paid attention to, sometimes immediately, as was the case with you. You were really so brave and so cooperative when you sat so still with the pain that the anesthesia did not touch. There is a great example with “sitting with the pain,” literally…still being in your body, aware of what was taking place, and not going to a place of fear….just being with it. i have had a similar root canal experience too. Celes, where the anesthesia did not cover the deep pain that was happening. Yes, I have been there, sitting still, staying with it, breathing through the procedure, picturing all going well, all the canals clear, knowing the surgery would end and I would the healing process would begin.

    Thank you for your sharing, Celes! :heart: This article that you have generously shared,with us here at PE, as well as my response to it, has helped me to get closer to a big, important surgery that is soon(sometime this year) to happen in my life….double knee replacement surgery. I hear many things about this surgery, and I know that “pain” and medications for “pain” and lots of “pushing the limit” physical therapy is involved, so….I look forward to sailing through with flying colors! Positivity is a plus, and your articles and the challenge I participated in last year all help to keep me on track! :heart:

    It’s the day to day “little things” that make such a difference, isn’t it, (like flossing :D !) and can turn things around. Like your articles, courses, webinars, and all that is offered here on PE. :heart: You know I’m a fan! :hug: And I continue to come here and check out what’s the latest, continue to ponder many topics to effect a better quality life for myself, and to offer the best me I can be in this crazy yet very beautiful, multi-faceted world. :D

    It’s all out there, isn’t it, and life is what we make it with our many choices. :heart: Hopefully, our conscious choices! :heart:
    :hug:

  • http://drjitesharora.com Jitesh

    Hi Celes, I hope you are doing fine now. My brother is a Dentist and I narrated him the story of your RCT. He can really relate to the pain you have gone through. Anyways, he is very happy after receiving your appreciation.

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Hi Jitesh, thanks so much for your well wishes and for relaying my appreciation to your brother. :) Thanks for letting me know that my pain was not abnormal too, though I understand most RCTs proceed painless. I have my second procedure in a month’s time and I hope it will not be as painful as the first one, though if it is, it will simply be the way it is. Can you help me ask your brother if the second procedure is as painful as the first one, or if it gets better from the first?

  • http://www.drjitesharora.com Dr Jitesh Arora

    Hi Celes, as you have mentioned in your post, the root the anesthesia given to you was not do effective due to purulent infection in your canal. The infection will subside till next session so You can hope for the best. Have a Good Day.

  • http://www.karthikcheers.in Karthik

    Hello Celes,
    Google incidentally taken my to your website during one of my searches. Glad that i landed here.
    I read your article on ‘How To Know What You Want To Do In Life’ that time and i must appreciate your choice of words and simplicity in that article.

    Then i found the RSS feed of your website and added the same in my RSS feed reader and so is the reason i am commenting here after my reader showed this article.

    When i am reading through this article, i rewinded myself to April 2012 as i faced the same experience as described by you. Here i go with my ‘Dental Story’.

    It was september 2011, I went to Germany from my country India on a official trip.
    One fine night while having vegetable sandwich as dinner, after the 4th bite, i started jumping as if someone inserted a needle into one of my right teeths. I seriously thought it was something wrong with the sandwich but only during the night, i realized that the problem was with my teeth and not with sandwich.

    I tried my level best to sleep but couldnt as it was a terrible pain. I did all kind of experiments with my teeth looking at the mirror but is of no gain.I sensed that, there was some hole in that tooth and some part of sandwich was stuck there not ready to come out with the twist actions of my tongue :).I checked with the hotel reception for medicines for tooth ache but is of no fain again.

    I was waiting for the day to come and fast forward 4 hours, I was awake and if i remember i skipped the breakfast(Breads,Breads,Breads in Germany) which might be an enemy to my teeth.Finally during the lunch hours, managed to get a toothpick in Office canteen and picked the left out of sandwich from my teeth and throwed it away. WoW!! what an awesome feeling that moment. But that moment lasted only for sometime till the evening where i bited a candy exactly with that moron.(affected teeth). So, finally i managed without any major pain by being concious of that teeth all the time when i eat. By using one side of the mouth while eating, i managed to get back to my country.Wow!!!! . This is the first part of the story which got ended in end of September 2012.

    What happened next? Was everything ok then onwards?
    Second part of the story will be shared soon in next comment soon! Wait n Watch :)

  • Dennis

    Hi Celes,

    I have a few root canal treatments and had a very similar experience as you, so I feel with you! I hope you are feeling better (Painkillers can be bliss after a treatment like this ;))! I don’t think you have to worry about the next treatments, they have never been painful to me even without anesthetics.

    I wanted to share a suggestion on dental care… I never got flossing to stick in my routine for longer than a few weeks until I switched to a water flosser. In my experience it feels much cleaner and more fresh than using floss. Maybe you want to give it a try, I am very happy with my Waterpik, but probably any other device will do.

    All the best!
    - Dennis

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Thanks Dennis! Does water flosser do a good job in removing sticky plaque though? I have this impression that normal floss would be the best for that. I’m personally like flossing a lot now so making it part of my routine isn’t a problem; it already is in my routine. I’m most interested in whatever method is most efficacious in removing plaque, so if water floss is indeed more efficacious, I might want to check it out!

      • Dennis

        Before I bought it I was doing some research on this topic but I could not find clear results.
        Obviously the Waterpik website claims that it’s more effective at removing plaque, backed by “clinical trials”: http://professional.waterpik.com/clinical-research/
        However I won’t really trust those results.

        I looked into some discussions on med student boards and opinions there were pretty mixed. Some stated each of them is better at different things. But I think no one said that a water flosser will be overall better than mechanical flossing.

        So I personally think you’re good with normal floss, especially if you enjoy having it in your routine! :)

  • Michael

    Thanks for sharing your story Celes.

    Sorry for your pain, but sincerely glad you bring this to our (my) awareness. I now realize I need to take better care of my teeth as well. Some dental health signs are starting to appear but I haven’t been giving them attention. Now I must! :sweat:

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      No problem Michael! It was my intention to share my (painful) story to drive the importance of caring of our teeth across. I’m really glad that my story has helped you to be more aware of that! If given a choice I would surely care my teeth as a kid, but what I can do now is to count my blessings that all my other teeth are fine and it’s just one tooth that is so badly decayed that it needs root canal (and the neighboring tooth next to it as well, though I think that should be fine as long as I keep up with my good dental hygiene practices).

  • http://www.starsparklex.blogspot.com Moonsparkle

    Thank you for the article, it was interesting to read about your experience. I hope you’re feeling much better now and that the follow up treatments go ok. :)

    I learnt the hard way about not taking care of your teeth. Mine were in very bad condition. I used to drink a lot of fizzy drinks and didn’t brush them enough. A few years ago, I was told that if carried on the way I was, I could lose all my teeth by 30 (I’m 29 now). I cut down on the fizzy drinks and started drinking more water (not that it was particularly easy at first) and my teeth are in better condition. But still not how they would have been if I’d taken better care of them when I was younger.

    I had root canal a few years ago. I don’t think it was too bad but a little bit painful, I should have asked for more anaesthetic . Hopefully you won’t experience anymore pain once your tooth has been root treated. I just had some treatment on my tooth this week, without anaesthetic and it didn’t hurt because it was root treated. I don’t like the drill at all but it was ok. I could just feel the drill banging against my tooth a little more than normal! lol.

  • Ashley

    Hi Celes,

    I’m not even sure if you check this blog anymore, but I had almost the exact same experience with my root canal – bad infection, abscessed tooth, extremely painful injections to numb the site and the anesthetic being pushed out by the swelling. (Luckily for me, though, the root canal itself was painless.) I’m halfway through the process – the first step was on Monday and hopefully the end of it will be next Wednesday, but my endodontist wants to make sure my infection has cleared completely before she fills the tooth, which means I might be flying without my final filling in.

    This brings me to my question for you: Since you were between treatments when you flew to and from South Africa, did flying hurt or was it uncomfortable since there wasn’t any filling in your tooth? I’m flying to Aruba next Saturday and am absolutely terrified of having pain at 30,000 feet. (I’m an incredibly nervous flyer anyway, which of course doesn’t help.) Any information you can share about your experience would be so comforting!

    • http://personalexcellence.co/ Celestine Chua

      Hi Ashley! There was a filling after my first root canal, albeit a temporary filling. And no, absolutely no pain nor issue in the 1 month I was overseas in South Africa nor during the flights. :) Even went paragliding — twice! — and no problem too!

      When you say you don’t have a filling, I’m not sure if you’re referring to not having a filling AT ALL or that it’s just a temporary filling in your tooth now. If you have a temporary filling I can’t imagine it would be a problem; if there isn’t any filling at all, it’s best you check with your dentist on any potential issues since the air pressure is different when flying. I hope that helps Ashley, and hope that your remaining treatments will be painless too!

      • Ashley

        Hey Celes,

        I have a temporary filling in at the moment with medication inside the tooth. Wednesday decides whether I fly with my permanent filling, but if I end up having to wait to complete the root canal until I return from my trip it’s such a relief to hear that you didn’t have any issues when flying with a temporary filling! I’m especially sensitive to cabin pressure as it is and am one of those people who has to yawn every two seconds to be comfortable, so the thought of any more discomfort was horrific for me.

        I wanted to ask – how is your tooth with the root canal doing now, a year on?

        • http://personalexcellence.co/ Celestine Chua

          Hi Ashley, that’s good to know that you already have a temporary filling, as I believe some dentists do leave the tooth empty in special cases! You may feel slight pressure during the flight, but in my experience it was just a dull, slight pressure and wasn’t painful at all (nothing to worry yourself over!).

          Tooth with root canal doing marvelously well; tip-top oral hygiene practices every day is key (brush + floss). In a way I’d say the root canal incident was a blessing in disguise, because I learned to really treasure my teeth and have been more diligent about my oral hygiene than ever.

          Wow, that sounds like a really serious accident!!! I’m glad there were no worst injuries though (like losing a whole rack of teeth — happened to someone I know). I hope that it’s just for this one tooth then and doesn’t happen to the other teeth! The good thing is that at least the tooth can still be preserved (through root canal) as opposed to having to do a full extraction.