Root canals get a bad rap

“I’ve never been so excited for a root canal.”

My exact words to a couple buddies a couple days ago. A stark contrast to that cliche: “I’d rather have a root canal than {fill-in-the-blank-of-some-dreaded-activity}.

Root canals have an undeserved bad rap. For contrast, childbirth is way way more painful.

The dental procedure itself doesn’t hurt, thanks to Novacaine or dead state of a tooth.

It’s the infection that hurts like hell! A root canal brings welcomed and necessary relief and healing.

Thus it was with great enthusiasm that I underwent a root canal yesterday … for a tooth that, turns out, was long infected and causing more pain than any infected tooth has.

Not my first root canal. Not by a long shot.

I’ve had many many during my 62 years — my first around age 12. Yes, 1-2!

A root canal AND post to plant a permanent cap on the front tooth that severely chipped when to escape an angry German shepherd at my heels I jumped onto the hood of my parent’s car and landed “teeth first.”

That permanent cap remains, 50 years now and counting! Dr. Jessup, my amazing childhood dentist, was THAT. SKILLED. His hand will be the first I shake when I arrive on the other side.

Anyways. I AM the Dental Queen — since very early childhood. Always been a fight to save and preserve my teeth. I got bad genes on the paternal side. (My mother and sister, on the other hand … if they got a cavity, headline news!)

Being in the dental chair was simply a way of life.

Thus I never had an opportunity to develop — or cave to — dental fears and anxieties. I bucked up — no pun intended, yeah, my orthodontics for an overbite and overcrowding were extensive — rising to every hour in the chair because I had to.

(Zero snowflake and millennial mentality here!)

Yesterday’s root canal was neither my first nor last. However, it stands out for the extent of the infection, pain and position.

As the furtherest-back molar, it’s a large, literally, player in mastication (and more).

And, as such, it proved somewhat challenging to the highly-skilled and competent endodontist since that back space is tight AND my jaw is small (noted too by my childhood dentist); it can open only so far.

I was pumped-up on Novacaine that blissfully lasted for hours. But when it wore off  that evening, POW! Woke me outta a dead nap! A driving pain due to tissue inflammation standard in these treatments.

Root canals (especially for large molars) are intense.

Ditto the recovery and healing. Antibiotics (typically amoxicillin) are a must; an anti-inflammatory (i.e. Ibuprofen) is a close second.

Some 24 hours post-treatment now and what a difference a root canal makes!

Mouth and body are celebrating removal of the source of a longtime infection!

Do I feel like a rousing round of square dancing? In spirit, yes. In body, not so much.

I’m still pretty wiped. Root canals are intimately invasive. (Plus this 62-year-old body doesn’t bounce back with the same vigor as a 22-year-old’s.)

The tooth and surrounding tissues feel, like badly bruised after a pow-pow-punch. Swollen, achey, requiring utmost respect, care, soft foods, nutritional support.

Any chewing beyond mashed potatoes and Campbell’s chicken and rice soup is a no-go.

Still, the discomfort and intensity of a root canal treatment and subsequent healing ain’t nuthin’ compared to an infected tooth and surrounding tissues!

A big misconception among most people make is that a dental infection is confined to the mouth.

Nothing is farther from the truth.

The mouth is a highly-sensitive microcosm within the macrocosm that is the body. Illness in the mouth holistically affects the entire body … from the immunity system to the organs and so on.

Do you know that each tooth is numbered and directly connected to a particular organ and meridian?  Simply google “meridian tooth chart” or hop to this link and click on any tooth for easy explanation.

Anyways. Point is, teeth and gums don’t exist in isolation.

I’m blessed and fortunate indeed that this back molar once sooo infected was savable with a root canal. Always best to save a natural tooth whenever possible.

I’m blessed and fortunate to have an excellent endondonist (and support staff) … for this tooth and two more also requiring treatment soon.

“I had a great time,” I said to the staff half-mumbling through mega Novacaine when I departed.

Great time like swimming in an ocean? Of course not!

Great as in removing all that infected material … in a time-consuming, detailed and meticulous process.

Even mid-stream in the chair, tooth and body cheered, recognizing moments when poisons were released and removed.

Root canals don’t deserve their bad rap (when done well by a competent endo, obviously).

They do require endurance, yes, from both patient and practitioner.

In and of themselves, they really don’t hurt.

It’s the causative infection that hurts … can hurt like hell! … as anyone who’s endured a severe toothache can attest.

As a Dental Queen who for some 50 years has had to work vigorously and consistently to keep and preserve my teeth — some battles have been successful, others not so much but still I show up — I can say with authority: I root for root canals! No pun intended.