Having a Root Canal (the proper term is Endodontic Therapy) is no fun. I've heard it all...Having a root canal hurt worse than having a baby; and I've had 6 children. I'd rather have hemorrhoids than have a root canal. I'd rather run a marathon than have a root canal. Finally...just pull it. My friend had a root canal and said it was worse than boot camp.
We dentists don't find sadistic pleasure in doing root canals. I promise (The best and most successful root canal is the one I never have to do....said an endodontist). We try to prevent the need for a root canal with many methods: bases, liners, sedative fillings, adjusting the bite, and our all time favorite...let's just give the tooth some time.
And unfortunately there is too much mystery surrounding the "need" for a root canal. Is it because the miniature x-ray the dentist is holding up to the light has some nondescript dark spot at the end of the root? Is it because my tooth throbs ever since the crown was done? Is it because ice-cream makes my tooth scream? Is it because I feel a pulsing in my tooth at night? Is it because the dentist slipped with his drill when he hiccupped? And how come he can never tell me if I need a root canal until after the drilling has begun (ohh Mrs. Smith, looks like you will need a root canal again).
I do assure you there is a science supporting endodontics and specific indications for root canal therapy. The diagnosis is made with a mixture of radiographs, patient symptoms, objective signs, and findings during excavation of decay. Why can a tooth that needs a root canal hurt so much you might ask?
This tissue hanging off the side of a 30 mm Ni-Ti file is the extirpated vital nerve of a central incisor. So if you were to slice and dice this tissue, slap it on a slide, and put it under a microscope- what would you see? Axons, dendrites, and all the other things I have forgotten that make up nervous tissue.
The core of endodontic treatment is getting this nerve out of your tooth to prevent it from sending nasty painful nerve stimuli to your brain. So yes! If you have ever received a root canal you know; something this small can hurt so big. Has anyone had a good experience having a root canal?