Are you quaking in your boots? The term epitomizes a horrible experience – how many times have you heard someone say, "I'd rather have a root canal than blah blah blah . . . "
I've had some pretty awful dental experiences in my past. I have terrible memories of my mother holding me down in the dentist's office while they tried to pull three stubborn teeth that weren't coming out on their own. It took hours. They would get one out and we'd all take a break before starting in on the other. And the main problem was that nobody believed me when I said I could still feel all this!!
I finally got a dentist in Hutchinson who told me that when I get nervous, my adrenaline neutralizes the novocaine. He had to give me two or three times as much as his other patients to keep me numb. Finally! Someone who believed me! He recommended, when I moved, that I never again settle for any dentist who wouldn't give me enough meds to really numb me.
And I haven't. Dr. Ringler empowered me. When my first dentist in New Jersey sat back disgusted at my continual yelps while he tried to drill in my mouth and said, "Well, just what exactly do you want me to DO for you?" I left and found another dentist. (I wish I'd said to him, "I want you to stop patronizing me like I'm a child who doesn't know the difference between pain and pressure!!" But I didn't have quite that much courage yet. Walking out was a big enough deal at the time.)
So, surely it's understandable how scared I was going to see an endodontist last week for a scan to see what needed to be done with tooth #21. And surely you can sympathize when he said "root canal and surgical procedure" . . . and that he could do the procedure right then . . . and I started to freak out internally.
Because I knew I should do it. It had to be done or I'd lose the tooth (which is an option I considered, believe me, but they said that would be even more painful and expensive). I was on spring break, so I had no reason not to just get it done immediately. If I waited, I would just work myself up into more of a panic about it. Better to get it over with.
But I started to cry when I told the endodontist to go ahead. And I was embarrassed at my tears. Forty-seven-year-old woman! The tears just came – I couldn't stop them. I couldn't believe how terrified I was of the potential pain.
The procedure ended up taking forty-five minutes longer than they said because an instrument broke off inside my mouth and they had trouble getting it out (good grief – that WOULD happen to me). Fortunately, I was on nitrous oxide and completely oblivious. Gotta love nitrous oxide.
The good news? I didn't even hurt the next morning. Hallelujah, Thine the glory.
The bad news? A week later, I'm hurting and my gums are swollen. Gotta call the endodontist about that. Ugh.
The worst news? My bill. Good grief.