I had a cracked tooth that needed a crown put on it. Little did I know this crown would be the start of a long period of pain and depression! We held off on this work while my wife and I went on vacation and during vacation I could feel some pain, but not a LOT. Once vacation was over, it was time to schedule this work.

When he started working on the crown, he gave me a shot to numb my mouth. There is always a gel on a stick q-tip thing to numb the mouth a bit before the needle is used. That gel tastes weird. I’m not a big fan of it at all. The needle full of novocaine is one of the most painful needles for me. I can give blood all day, but that big needle in the mouth is terrifying and painful. After a few minutes my mouth felt numb. The dentist got started but it hurt pretty bad. I told him that and he seemed surprised. I gave you the shot!! He seemed irritated but gave me a second shot. That one did it and I didn’t feel a thing after that. Until the novocaine wore off. Then it hit me pretty hard. I must say though that the temporary crown I walked out of there with felt great. The tooth had felt a bit sensitive, but after a couple days that went away. There was about a day of pain following the procedure, but it felt good after that.

Come time to get the permanent crown put on, I was pretty excited to finish up. They had made it a bit snug though and it seemed that the dentist was having issues getting it on. He placed his thumb against the top of the crown and the rest of his fingers under my jaw and squeezed. This caused me quite a bit of pain. It was at this point that the pain started to stick around.

I started to get a swelling in my gum and jaw that tightened my mouth up quite a bit. It hurt to open it far enough to eat. I did my best to not chew on this side, but the teeth did touch together. Each time this happened was incredibly painful. I tried to stop it, but couldn’t 100%. I knew my dentist was closed for a week for the holidays so I waited until the next week to give him a call. By this time, any time the new crown touched the tooth above it, was sheer agony. A very sharp pain. Gasp inducing. It was at this point that I found some old pain killers from an earlier issue. The pain was so bad that I would take a pain pill when I got home from work and then go straight to bed. The only place I wasn’t hurting was in bed asleep. So that’s where I went. I skipped dinner even a couple days because the pain was really bad.

I went back to the dentist to get this checked on and he adjusted the bite. After 3-4 more days, the pain had decreased, but was still really bad. I again went to the dentist with a lot of pain and he saw that the tooth next to the one that had the work done on it looked like it was infected. He scrubbed on the tooth and really increased the amount of pain I was in by 10 fold. It was pretty bad, so bad, that I was crying in the chair. The assistant noticed and asked if I was in pain. I gasped yes! That it hurt REALLY BAD! She told the dentist who had already walked away and he came back, looked again and decided to take an xray. He looked at it and almost immediately said yep, I needed a root canal and he was giving me a referral. This really freaked my shit out. I set up an appointment at the specialist for the next day. I’d been reading about the process and read that it was painless. I figured, I could schedule this for 10am at work, then go back and finish up the day.

I showed up at the specialists a few minutes early after walking over from work. The front office staff were really nice! I met the dentist and his assistant. They were both young and really nice. He took a look at the xray and showed me where there were signs of infection. He did a cold test on my teeth. 29, hurt when he put the cold up against it. 30 I felt nothing, 31 I felt nothing. He said this may mean that both 30 and 31 were dead. He suspected that both might be part of the issue. He decided to perform a root canal on 30 at that time. I told him about the trouble being numbed by my dentist and he made sure to give me a long shot that fully numbed me. His assistant came in and told me she was going to “poke my gums now”. The way she said it sounded hilarious to me and I told her she had said it so happily! I giggled as she laughed at that. I really was excited to have her poke my gums! I couldn’t feel it which meant it was time to roll.

Once the procedure started, I could not feel a thing! The entire time, there was no feeling from anywhere in my mouth. Sure, I could hear the drill and feel the vibration, but there was 0 pain. For the procedure, they had a rubber mouth expander in my mouth and also a rubber dam. I had told him how terrified I was of the process and he decided to finish the tooth up by filling and capping the hole he made then instead of waiting a week. I was so glad about that! I wasn’t interested in seeing my dentist again at this point. I think his roughness was partly to blame for my pain, but I’m not sure.

I walked out of that appointment pretty excited! I didn’t feel bad and I strolled back to work. A few minutes after getting back, the novocain started wearing off. HOLY COW, was there a lot of pain! I knew that I couldn’t stay at work with this much pain, so I called my wife to drive me home. I got there and immediately took pain pills and went to sleep. A few couple days later, I was freaking out about the bite. I went back in and he adjusted it and all seemed well with the world. Except that the pain went down a little bit in severity, but didn’t go away.

I gave it a week and went back to my dentist. He knew this time I was in a lot of pain still and was fed up and he called and scheduled me with the specialst right them. When he was looking in my mouth, he said, oh! There’s still pus. Instantly, I was completely freaked out having a panic attack. This was the first I’d heard about the pus and I’d not seen this guy in over a week! It must have been there that long! Immediately, I had to try not to throw up. I was literally reeling.

It was still pouring rain as I left the dentist and headed back to work to let everyone know I was leaving right then and then started the walk to the specialist.

When I got over there, I was soaking wet. They got me back quickly and at first he wasn’t able to find anything wrong. But then his tool seemed to slip into a hole in the other tooth, 31. He sent me to another practice in that building to get a CT Scan of my tooth to get a better idea of what was going on. An XRay is a 2-D view of the tooth whereas the CT Scan gives a 3d view of the tooth. This helps to pinpoint issues in the tooth, but for my tooth, the results were inconclusive. He wasn’t able to tell if there was an issue or not. He decided to contact my dentist and see what he thought. I waited until the next afternoon and called the specialist’s office. They were actually just about to call me to schedule my second root canal. They figured this was the best next step to help alleviate my pain. At this point, the pain was back to pretty bad again. I used a sick day the next day to head to my appointment. I figured, schedule it early and then head home to sleep. The specialist had given me prescriptions for both a pain killer and an antibiotic. I’d been taking this faithfully on schedule since he’d given them to me.

This root canal was the total opposite of the first one. He started it out with 2 shots. We then got started and a few minutes in, I could feel it. A gnawing pain that shot down into my jaw. It was a weird pain, it felt kind of deep. I tried to yell in that mouth opener and rubber damn, but it came out more like a whimper. He was surprised that i could feel it. He stopped working immediately and then gave me another long shot. We waited about 10 minutes and got started again. Just a few minutes in, I again started to feel that pain. He gave me another shot. Then another. Still, after a bit of drilling, it hurt again. I did my best to ignore the pain and he was able to get down to the canals. He filled the hole in the tooth with novocaine and let it sit, but still, it hurt incredibly bad. Both of my hands had a death grip on the chair. After 7-9 shots, he decided to call it a day. He packed the tooth full of antibiotics and put a temporary top on it. I then set an appointment for one week out to finish it.

I headed straight home, took 2 pain pills, and went to bed. I knew it was going to be a painful day/night. It was. Since then, it’s been getting better. Day by day, a bit better, but I’m still trying to get fully healed. He had mentioned that if this does’t get rid of all the pain, there was another procedure where he would do a deep clean on that tooth. That doesn’t sound happy to me. That sounds painful. 🙁 It’s been 3 days and my jaw is no longer tightly wound. I have my typical jaw movement back!! We’ll see in 4 days when I go back how things feel! My fingers are crossed for no more pain!!!

There is still pain, but it seems to be less pain than before. I’m still definitely freaked out. I’m not exactly sure what to expect in my next appointment. Were we waiting for the antibiotics to kick in so that we can numb it better and coninue working? Are we just going to close it up? As long as the numbing works, I”m good with it, but I’m going in scared shitless (again). And I don’t think I’ll every stop asking myself “Is there any pus in my mouth?”. (I don’t see any…)

To be continued…

Have you ever had a root canal? How was your experience? Was it painful during or afterwards? Share your story in the comments!