Are root canals worth the $$ in the long run?

Azarae_DuskeFebruary 5, 2003

I had my first root canal done 12 days ago. So far it's been nothing but painful & has caused me to miss almost 2 weeks of work.

After alot of research & consulting other dentists' websites I've found that the problems I'm having could cause me to lose the tooth anyways(have it extracted).

Now, I went into the dentist thinking I would get a filling or a consultation. After numbing & drilling he told me he HAD to do a root canal(what can you say or do at that point??).

I feel I was suckered into this whole thing since in the past this dentist has told me he'd rather "save" a tooth than pull it & I disagreed at that time.

What can you do when the tooth is allready drilled out though? I thought it wouldn't be too big of a deal. Well after all this, the tooth is still infected & very painful.

If I wind up with the tooth extracted by this dentist, I don't think I should have to pay him for it since he gave me no consult, no pros' & cons' & possible problems of this root canal thing(& you CAN tell from my other teeth they are all natural). Plus he's allready charged me over $600 for all this! At one point during the last week I begged him to pull it out(due to the pain) but he refused & finally called in a pain med(which I couldn't take anyways).

So...are these things worth the $$ in the long run in your opinion?? Do they last??


Azarae D.

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As I understand the root canal process it is essentially drilling out the nerve(s) to the tooth and filling in the cavity the loss leaves; the point is to leave you with the hard exterior of the tooth, thus sparing you the necessity of more expensive bridgework to fill in the gap that would be left by an extraction.

I am one of those whose parents took us to the dentist when there was a problem... coupled with plentiful penny candy I have become rather an expert at the dentist! I've had 4 crowns to replace massive fillings that were beginning to succumb to age and were crumbling. I asked if it was necessary to perform a root canal prior to crown work, since that is what I had heard. My dentist (the nicest, most patient man in the world) said, "NO!". Since there was nothing essentially wrong with the tooth (aside from a crumbling filling that was so large replacing it wasn't practical) he simply removed the old filling, ground the tooth down to the "post" and installed the crown. Years later I have experienced no ill effects. As long as the tooth is healthy, root canals are not necessary.

I don't know what your individual circumstances are, but I sympathize. I was so terrified of the dentist I wouldn't go for over 10 yeas. Finally, I decided it was time to "get a grip" and I went. I was pleasantly surprised at how nice he was, he knew I was terrified and really spent some time with me, answering all my questions and giving me a mirror so I could watch the procedures. It is terrible to be "put on the spot", and it is very difficult to decline or say, "Wait a minute! I need to know more". If you're still having trouble, request a return visit or do some research and see someone else. Dentistry shouldn't be painful or frightening.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2003 at 5:09AM
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"after all this, the tooth is still infected & very painful"

STILL? If it was infected and painful when you went in, they had to fix the infection before anything else (crowns, filling, whatever) because an infection spreading from tooth to tooth inside your jawbone is not a good thing. And a "root canal", drainage, massive antibiotics, etc is about the only way.

it's not too late to get a second opinion.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2003 at 7:07AM
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You must have been given bad information or been treated incorrectly. I have had plenty of root canals.

1) "worth the $$ in the long run?" Ummm, what choice do you have? It is abcessed, or else they would not be doing the root canal. If you had no pain already, trust me, it was coming.

2) Lost two weeks work. This doesn't sound right. After the root canal, the abcess is gone. The nerve is gone. There is initial soreness the 'day of'. But for two weeks??? Nope.

The process:
Abcess is diagnosed either because patient is in pain or X-ray during checkup shows the abcess (basically an infection in the root of the tooth).

Depending on the severity of the infection, they may make you take a round of antibiotics to quell the infection. This may take a week or so.

Dentist or specialist then performs root canal. Basically, you get numbed. Then they drill away the decayed part of the tooth, and then remove the root and nerve.

Dentist takes a mold / impression and orders a permanent crown. They fit you at that moment with a temporary crown.

You return later when the perm crown arrives, and they switch the temp out for the perm.

See another dentist.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2003 at 7:56AM
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Azure, like Chelone I consider myself an "expert" in this area, being from a rural area and growing up in a time when regular dental checkups were not considered the norm in the place. My parents didn't take me to the dentist until I was 12, and then becuase I was in so much pain I was vomiting. It turned out I needed 3 root canals right away because I had 3 abscessed teeth, plus about 10 fillings. Over the years I've had 5 other root canals due to fillings that were too deep into the teeth - to save my teeth, that original dentist drilled out cavaties that were very deep and that most other dentist would have just pulled the teeth.

As to your problem, I've had a similar situation about 2 years ago. I had a painful molar, the very back upper left one. The dentist said it was abscessed and did a root canal. The pain didn't go away, even after 2 courses of antibiotics, but the xrays didn't show anything abnormal. The dentist sent me to an endodontist, a specialist who only does root canals. The endodontist found that the tooth was still infected and that the next molar in front of it was also infected but the infections didn't show up on xrays. She re-did the rootcanal, did one on the next tooth, and also removed the root tip from the first tooth - we're talking $1600 for one tooth and $900 for the other, with insurance paying 1/2.

Everything was fine for about a year, and the first tooth started hurting again - the $1600 tooth. I went back to the regular dentist, who found on xras that it was infected again. He said at that point the only thing left to do was pull it, which he did. I had instant relief and don't regret loosing that tooth because it was nothing but pain. Becuase it was a back molar, I didn't have to have a bridge and can still chew fine. Now the next one forward, the $900 tooth, is having twinges. I'm not fooling with it anymore, it's coming out if it keeps bothering me.

Bottom line is that a tooth CAN get reinfected after a root canal. The root canal solves the initial infection but new ones can start up. My suggestion would be to make an appointment with an endodontist if there is one in your area, and if not see another dentist for a second opinion.

My heart goes out to you. An infected tooth is a pain unlike any other - I told DH it's like an animal caught in a trap who chews its leg off to get out, that's how much it hurts. Good luck and God bless you.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2003 at 8:31AM
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That reminds me. Depending on where the tooth is, it could be that the abcess turned into a sinus infection. Is it an upper front tooth???

    Bookmark   February 5, 2003 at 8:53AM
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"what choice do you have?"
--Well, I could have had it pulled, it wouldn't be the first time.

"for two weeks??? Nope."
--Yep, I did...the pain was worse than(although similar to) abscessed teeth I've had before, where it goes up the side of your head, into your eye even.

I certainly couldn't bend over & I don't think I could take the screaming, heavy lifting, hitting, clawing & biting(& the call lights beeping constantly)at work so yes, I've missed 2 weeks altogether because they couldn't get me back into the dentist's office & I cannot take a strong pain-killer & work.

"Depending on the severity of the infection, they may make you take a round of antibiotics to quell the infection. This may take a week or so."

-- I got 10 days of 500mg of penicillin 4x a day AFTER he drilled the root & put a temporary filling in.

"Dentist takes a mold / impression and orders a permanent crown. They fit you at that moment with a temporary crown.
You return later when the perm crown arrives, and they switch the temp out for the perm."

-- NONE of that took place, he took out the temp. filling, noted the stench & drainage still coming from the tooth(oh gee it's still infected!!), cleaned it & put the permanent filling in it, no crown, no return visit.

Thanks everyone for the advice, I really don't know the norm for these things. I guess I need to find another dentist..

Azarae D.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2003 at 9:07AM
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Definitely talk to another dentist!

Here's something to consider if you get a tooth pulled.

A missing tooth will (as I understand it) cause other teeth to move around, which will cause problems. To prevent this, you then need to be fitted for a bridge. To sum it up, your dental problems don't end if a tooth is pulled, you're just acquiring a new set of problems.

Also, in America (and I think, most Western countries) a certain standard of dental care is expected. Having missing or damaged teeth is perceived very negatively. I'm not sure what dollar amount you could put on it, but if your teeth don't meet a certain norm, this is going to affect how strangers treat you, and affect your social life. It's going to make an employer less likely to hire you.

As others have said better than myself, it really sounds like this dentist did not follow good procedures. Talk to someone else, and good luck!

Also, if you have a regular doctor, I would talk to them if you can get a quick appointment. It sounds to me like you may still have an infection, and possibly that could be treated with a round of antibiotics right now. (I don't know, I'm not a doctor, but I think it's worth pursuing.)

    Bookmark   February 5, 2003 at 9:33AM
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Sorry, my first message was more of a reaction to the subject line of root canals being worth the $$.

If they didn't start you back on antibiotics when they saw oozing, you definitely need a new doc/dentist.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2003 at 9:40AM
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"I've missed 2 weeks altogether because they couldn't get me back into the dentist's office"

I've got an important standard you need to dril into your head: if you're in pain and your medical professional won't see you, either be as nasty as necessary until they will, or GO SEE SOMEONE ELSE AS FAST AS YOU CAN!

It is important when you call to get an appt. that you be REALLY CLEAR to the office staff about why you're calling, and what level of service you expect. And if they don't give you an appointment as fast as you think they should, insist on talking to their boss--the doctor or dentist!

No dentist worth ANYTHING should have blown you off!

You deserve to have reasonable medical care. You didn't get it.

So get another dentist TODAY. And call your M.D. as well; he can treat the infection, too, even if he can't treat the tooth.

Your teeth are in your head. An infection in your head can be very dangerous.

Pls post back and tell us all you have an appointment w/ another dentist. Pronto!

    Bookmark   February 5, 2003 at 11:01AM
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Trilobite raises an excellent point about remaining teeth "migrating" into the space left by a pulled tooth. I had a molar pulled when I was about 12, nothing was ever done to keep the space open. The rest of the teeth on the upper right side of my mouth have "closed ranks" and filled in the gap.

This was something that ought to have been addressed immediately. Now it is too late without expensive orthodonture (right word? :) ). If you opt to have the tooth removed, be sure to "finish the job". Many dentists will allow you to finance expensive work... my dentist was very sweet about my first two crowns. I was in my early twenties and scraping by with rent and student loans. I gave him $50/mo. for several months to pay them off...

    Bookmark   February 5, 2003 at 4:25PM
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Azure, just curious - what do you do for a living, from your description you are either the gatekeeper in Hell or a circus animal trainer - just kidding!!!! But seriously, what do you do that involves screaming, scratching, etc? I'm dying to know ;)

    Bookmark   February 6, 2003 at 9:40AM
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Heh, I give showers to patients on an Alzheimer's unit(I'm a CENA) & most demented people don't care for water on them.

Don't get me wrong, not everyone is like that but there are several on a daily basis & when I'm in pain..I'm not at my best & a good clip to the mouth would just not be my idea of a good time right now, lol.

I did make several calls & got an appt. but it's not for another week. Most dentists around here are so booked up.

Karla B.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2003 at 3:05PM
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Normally they give you antibiotics BEFORE the procedure, don't they? Just to be sure?

I would say, if you really needed the root canal, that compared to losing a lot more teeth, the root canal is probably worth it, money wise. Sometimes you can't afford to be cheap (read = frugal) especially when it comes to your health. Good luck and find yourself some Percocet!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2003 at 9:36PM
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I've had maybe seven or eight root canals, a couple by my dentist and the rest by the endodontist (much better - and my dentist was good), so I'm an "expert" like the rest of you here. (And I had excellent dental care when I was growing up!)

Azarae, you wrote:

"for two weeks??? Nope."
--Yep, I did...the pain was worse than(although similar to) abscessed teeth I've had before, where it goes up the side of your head, into your eye even.

I know exactly what you're feeling. It happened to me twice.

As others have said, if you have an infection, it must be gone before the roots and the rest of the tooth can be permanently filled. If it's a terrible infection, the doctor will often put you on antibiotics for several days before starting the root canal. Otherwise, the doctor will do the first part of the root canal (drill the tooth, clean out the roots, pack the whole thing full of absorbent material and put a temporary crown on it). Then, they'll send you home to let the tooth drain and the antibiotics continue to work before you have the second part of the root canal, where they permanently fill the roots and then make a crown for your tooth.

However, sometime the infection is just so bad that it can't be opened right away, but hurts way too much to wait. One time, I went to have a root canal on a "hot" tooth. My endodontist is amazingly good at anethetizing, and she shot me up every which way - including directly into the roots (the tooth was opened), but nothing helped even a bit.

By that time, the pain was way past unbearable. It was shooting up my jaw, under my eye, etc. And my endodontist, being the saint that she is, gave me antibiotics and wrote a prescription for Vicodin, sent me home, and told me to come back when it felt better. I drugged myself and spent the next three days in bed.

I thought the pain of an abscessed tooth was unbearable, and it's pretty awful, but this was way beyond a "mere" abscess. Azarae, I can't believe you managed to function through that pain, you poor thing.

I want to encourage you to get a second opinion. At the very least, go back to your dentist and tell him what's going on and exactly how much pain you're feeling, and ask him what he plans to do about it.

I lost one tooth after a root canal. It was my own fault - I didn't have the money for the crown, and the tooth crumbled while I was waiting. Nevertheless, my endodontist took $500 off my next root canal. (And I got an implant, a few years later.)

Your dentist should offer a hefty discount on the root canal if you end up losing the tooth. If he doesn't, I'd talk to him about it. Personally, after what seems to be such a fiasco, I'd probably change dentists.

Good luck, and I hope the pain is gone soon.

By the way, you shouldn't have to wait days to see your dentist when your tooth is hurting like that. Your dentist should be setting aside some appointments each day for emergencies, and a hot tooth is one. Be sure to say that you have a hot tooth when you call, and insist on seeing the dentist that day (possibly the next day). If your dentist doesn't do this, I would find another one. You don't want to wait when it's that bad.

One more thing, a good root canal is worth the money, I think. Your real tooth is able to take much more pressure than dentures or bridgework, so you can eat better. Which makes your digestion better. Etc, etc, etc.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2003 at 3:02AM
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About a year ago the dentist tried to get me to have a root canal. I had the tooth pulled. $200 vs. $2500, there was no choice with my finances, plus I had other dental work needed. After the fact, the dentist admitted that the RC would likely not have worked and the tooth would have had to be pulled anyway. Why? The tooth was cracked. It would not have held the crown. They have to fill in with rubber under the tooth and then fill the tooth and then put a crown on it. I could have had an implant for about $3000. Forget that. Not an option here.

Here's a good explanation of root canals.
What is a root canal?

Underneath your tooth's outer enamel and within the dentine is an area of soft tissue called the pulp, which carries the tooth's nerves, veins, arteries and lymph vessels. Root canals are very small, thin divisions that branch off from the top pulp chamber down to the tip of the root. A tooth has at least one but no more than four root canals.

Why do I feel pain?

When the pulp becomes infected due to a deep cavity or fracture that allows bacteria to seep in, or injury due to trauma, it can die. Damaged or dead pulp causes increased blood flow and cellular activity, and pressure cannot be relieved from inside the tooth. Pain in the tooth is commonly felt when biting down, chewing on it and applying hot or cold foods and drinks.

Why do I need root canal therapy?

Because the tooth will not heal by itself. Without treatment, the infection will spread, bone around the tooth will begin to degenerate, and the tooth may fall out. Pain usually worsens until one is forced to seek emergency dental attention. The only alternative is usually extraction of the tooth, which can cause surrounding teeth to shift crookedly, resulting in a bad bite. Though an extraction is cheaper, the space left behind may require a denture, a bridge or an implant which can be more expensive than root canal therapy. If you have the choice, it's always best to keep your original teeth.

What is involved in root canal therapy?

Once your general dentist performs tests on the tooth and recommends therapy, he can perform the treatment or refer you to Dr Brian Davies, our Specialist Endodontist (a pulp specialist). Treatment usually involves one to three appointments.

First, you will probably be given a local anaesthetic to numb the area. A rubber sheet is then placed around the tooth to isolate it. Next, a gap is drilled from the crown into the pulp chamber, which, along with any infected root canal, is cleaned of all diseased pulp and reshaped. Medication may be inserted into the area to fight bacteria. Depending on the condition of the tooth, the crown may then be sealed temporarily to guard against recontamination, or the tooth may be left open to drain, or the dentist may go right ahead and fill the canals.

If you're given a temporary filling, usually on the next visit it's removed and the pulp chamber and canal(s) are filled with rubber like gutta percha or another material to prevent recontamination. If the tooth is still weak, a metal post may be inserted above the canal filling to reinforce the tooth. Once filled, the area is permanently sealed. Finally, a gold or porcelain crown is normally placed over the tooth to strengthen its structure and improve appearance.

What are the risks and complications?

More than 95 percent of root canal treatments are successful. However, sometimes a case needs to be redone due to diseased canal offshoots that went unnoticed or the fracturing of a canal filling instrument used, both of which rarely occur. Occasionally, a root canal therapy will fail altogether, marked by a return of pain.

What happens after treatment?

Natural tissue inflammation may cause discomfort for a few days, which can be controlled by an over-the-counter analgesic. A follow-up exam can monitor tissue healing. From this point on, brush and floss regularly, avoid chewing hard foods on the treated tooth, and see your dentist regularly.
above from:

I run the risk of the teeth moving a bit, but I'm getting along fine without them for now. Someday, maybe I can afford $10,000 in dental work. But certainly not now.

Worth it or not? You have to decide. Do you have insurance? Might help. I also know people who have had RCs and had them go bad. I know people who've had them and have worked out well for them.

I can sympathize with you on getting put off when you had the pain. I had a similar situation. Plus he put in a temporary filling in the tooth he wanted to RC and it got infected. Talk about bad and couldn't get in until the afternoon. Whew! Glad that's over....


    Bookmark   February 8, 2003 at 7:35PM
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Thanks everyone :)

I've had 2 other molars pulled(plus wisdom teeth but they don't really count). However all my molars are so tightly together I can barely floss which caused alot of my problem to begin with.

I felt if they shifted a bit, I might be better off with some space between them?

I do have insurance, but it only covers $750/year & he used most of that in one visit(plus I paid $180 on top).

This no crown thing or even an offer of one kind of bothered me also since fillings don't even stay in my teeth very well(they never have), I'm afraid this whole thing might be in vain :(

I'm asking for #'s of co-workers dentists so hopefully I can find a "gentle" one who isn't in such a hurry they can't tell me what they're going to do before they do it.

Azarae D.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2003 at 10:27PM
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Tell them you want a thorough explanation, and tell them this BEFORE you say "ahh"

Tell them you're in pain immediately when you call.

Tell them you think you still have an infection in your tooth.

Tell them you have strong doubts about the wisdom of spending $on a root canal vs. pulling the tooth.

Tell them you think it would be a good idea if your teeth shifted (they can tell you whether this is medically possible)

And if you can't get in to a dentist this week, call your regular doctor and tell them the infection story, so they can decide if you still need antibiotics, which they can prescribe.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2003 at 3:22PM
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I'd say a root canal is defnitely worth it. As others have stated, pulling teeth should be a last resort procedure, because of all the problems involved.
Also, I would like to say something about saving money on dentist appointments: I don't know if it's possible in the USA, but here in Iceland some people save money by going to the dentistry department of the university hospital and having dentistry students do the procedures. I had a student clean out a root canal that had become re-infected and replace the filling at 1/3 of what it would have cost me had I seen my regular dentist. They only charge for the materials they use, not their time. The only downside is that it takes more time, and they are more liketly to take you if you need special procedures done, like root canals or crowns.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2003 at 9:01AM
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I have an aunt who routinely goes to a college for routine dental work. She swears by them! She says it takes longer, but she loves the contact with the students and has an easy-going sense of humor that I imagine would be helpful to awkward "first timers".

    Bookmark   February 11, 2003 at 3:42PM
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Yes they are worth the money. If you don't have them done you will end up with partials, crooked teeth or dentures and you won't like that. My step-DIL was faced with this problem. She was being told by her MIL and her husband it wasn't necessary, she didn't know what to do. I told her that she was to pretty and to young not to do it. I told her to do even if she had to borrow the money.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2003 at 7:44PM
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Did you find a new dentist and did you find out why you hurt so much?? I have had 3 root canals and the after-pain was WAY better than how I felt before they were done! I always take the afternoon off work (I'm a baby, LOL) but co-workers often return to work (drooling, of course, LOL) after their procedures. Your experience was NOT normal!

Hope you're fully recovered by now!

Julie (and I had crowns put on all 3 teeth that had the RC's done)

    Bookmark   February 16, 2003 at 9:25AM
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I think you did not go to the right dentist. Over many years, I have had several root canals and caps. I have never had a moment of "pain". Yes, I have had root canals done and had to take asprin after, but after about 4 - 6 hours I'm perfect. The actual "cap" is painless. I recently had a new cap put on, ($1,000.) and never had any problems. My dentist is a "reconstruction specialist". He saves teeth. By the way, we grew up poor, no dental health, poor diet. I'm retired and that cap cost about 40 days income - but I have always vowed to save my teeth if I can. A good dentist is worth his/her weight in gold, but a bad one is terrible. Good luck.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2003 at 7:41PM
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Hi Azare,

I'm doing a root canal now - at local dental school.

During my first two sessions, there was some discomfort when she was (medicating, I think). She used something that sounded like a file doing cleaning. Charge $125.00 so far.

No pain at all after the procedure, only occasionally and mildly so while in it.

When I brushed teeth after second session - knocked the cap off.

Called the next morning, she said to stuff some cotton batting into the hole, or gauze. I put some crumpled up sheet plastic in there. She said that I needn't expect pain.

She got me an appointment for the folowing morning, to replace cap. When I arrived, super asked her if she'd asked about using the (new) endo- area, she said she'd asked the day before, the endo- people had no space. Super said to ask again - maybe someone was sick, forgot, etc. "If a chair without a warm body in it - go ask for it".

I observed that a warm body in the chair was better than a cold one.

The student was a bit worried about transferring all her stuff - but we got it. She'd said she'd have to do some more cleaning, which she did - and some more "sandpapering" And some more (slightly uncomfortable) medicating, I believe. Put on the cap.

Expect that she'll complete it next Tuesday afternoon.

Then I'm to go in Wednesday morning to have five front teeth in lower jaw extracted.

She has asked whether I had pain after the procedures, but no hint of any.

I'm very pleased.

Two partials contemplated.

Estimated total cost under $2,000.

I'm really sad that you've had to undergo the hassles that you have.

Good wishes for a brighter future.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   February 21, 2003 at 5:21PM
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I know this post is old, but I just wanted to say that I've worked for dentists and I've never known ANY of them to put a permanent filling in a tooth that root canal therapy was being done on-------that still had infection. I guess the dentist thought he had gotten it all out. And most dentists will recommend a crown, which is sturdier, to be put on molars.

Yes, if done properly, RCT is worth it-----here's what happens when molars are extracted (pulled)----the bone loss causes the jaws to sink in some, or look hollow. Also, chewing is diminished, causing stress on the existing teeth.

If several teeth are missing, a partial denture is the next step------and they aren't cheap!!

Let me tell you what I do whenever I have a hint of tooth or gum problems--------run for the warm salt water. Rinse, rinse, and rinse!!!

PS I've had RCT done on one molar, it was practically painless once I got in the dental chair. But, I've known others who have had problems like yours and wound up having the tooth pulled.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2003 at 12:44AM
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After my root canal referred to above, I had no pain. Even when the temporary cap came off when I brushed my teeth.

After that and some work on other teeth in my top jaw - the advisor that deals with plates felt that it would be best to take everything out in the top (including the one that they'd done the root canal on) and get a full plate.

So - the dental school plans to provide that plate at minimal cost (possibly even none?).

In the early fall I had all but three out in the bottom jaw, so we are planning to have a partial plate for that situation.

They plan to wait two or three months to let the jaw situation settle down.

That would have been in December, but that's exam time.

So I've been "eating" stew, soup, mashed potatoes and gravy, cooked porridge, yogurt, soft puddings, etc.

That makes a good story - but I went to a fowl (turkey) supper (asked them for the crumbs, which they gave me gladly). I found that I made only minimal use of the knife -(metal, which I asked for, rather than the plastic that was provided).

Haven't tried toast, yet, but cheese sandwiches are O.K. (ham not so hot). Had pancakes on my trip to the Prairies recently.

I was a slow eater before - but now I need to eat only with folks who are very forgiving about me taking a LONG time to eat!

Son says he has a surplus blender that he can lend me.

I'm thinking of asking for an approximation of the reduction that the dental school plans to offer me, then write a cheque for at least part of it as a charitable contribution to the University/dental school - after all, it cost them for materials, gloves, masks, etc. for all of the work that they did. Actually, it will cost me only part of the stated amount, as I'll get a tax deduction for it.

To use part of my proceeds for being frugal.

As my (40 year old) "kids", and others, say, when encouraging me to be good to myself, "You can't take it with you!".

As I used to say when I was a preacher, "I've never seen a Brinks truck in a funeral procession, yet".

Good wishes for a glorious fall, all.

joyful guy/Ed (even though nearly toothless, for the present)

    Bookmark   November 1, 2003 at 1:51AM
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I don't know the answer yet, but here is a story about today:
I went to the dentist today. No, it didn't really hurt. I have an awful record as far as going to the dentist is concerned. In 1973 I had a BUNCH of fillings redone. In 1977 I chipped a tooth while in a car accident, and convinced the dentist to just grind it a bit, and make it smooth. I really didn't want a crown, and don't have one to this date.

Sometime in the 80's I had my teeth cleaned, and again in the 90's. Then, three weeks ago I started to loose a filling. I guess, they don't last much over 30 years. :)

Since I moved last year, I hadn't been assigned to a new dentist, via my insurance. Thus, of course, I could not get in to a dentist near home.

I called back where I used to live, and made a 180 mile drive to see a dentist, that the insurance still covered. DRAT! This guy, hmmm let me start at the beginning. An assistant saw me. She make x-rays. The dentist shows, and tells me I need a root canal. Well, I really didn't want one done that far away from home... what if something goes wrong?
I asked, for him to give me a temporary filling, as I was about to go away to my daughters for a week, and needed time to get in to a dentist near home. He said, he could not do a temporary anything, as this was against policy or something.

I told him, well, can you do the root canal right now? No, you got to come back, today was just for a consultation!

Drat... I called, and made this appointment, to get a filling redone! and I told him so. He again, told me, I needed a root canal, but I declined, and told him I had to go home. I left.

Now, today, two weeks later, this new dentist drilled my tooth out a bit more, and filled it. No root canal. When I told him the other dentist wanted to do a root canal... he asked... where? which tooth? Why? :) I think I will like this dentist.

I even let them give me another appointment, so I can get my teeth cleaned.


    Bookmark   November 18, 2003 at 8:06PM
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I had a root canal a couple of months ago, but I feel that the root canal was done improperly. I have had many other root canals and none ever hurt like this one. In fact, I am still not healed yet, and I can't wear my retainers any longer, to do so would be too painful for even one minute. I was so upset when I got the bill for 900 dollars more on top of the 300, I had already paid. I called the office and said, it should be a good root canal at those prices.

I feel like I went to a cut rate dental student, or someone who was had little experiences, although that was not the case.

I don't want to go into the details, but this dentist did not want to spend time to carefully drain the inflection and he zipped me through in half an hour. I understand it to take 3 hours to do right. He burned the whole thing off to close it off, or something I could feel my flesh burning.

Other root canals were done carefully, in the past, and had no pain the next day. I ended up with a massive inflection. The condition is still so horrible, I can't even get my crown put on. This dentist was not my regular dentist, but he was highly recommended because my regular dentist was out of town.

I want to do something like write a letter that I am unhappy with the root canal. Is some consumer rights group I can contact about this?

I do not think a root canal should cause a two weeks missing of work, clearly I feel that yours like mine was done wrong. I also think it would depend on how bad the condition of the tooth was, a minor root canal vs. a major canal. Yet, I think if mine was a special case root canal that was going to cause such problems, I should have been warned that this was not a normal root canal. This is my fourth root canal and they only one that caused any pain the next day, and for many days afterwards. I hope you will also consider complaining. I am not sure who to complain to.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2004 at 10:15PM
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I had my 5th or 6th root canal last November and I don't think mine was done right either. Without going into detail, my dentist was clumsy, didn't have the proper equipment and it took him all of 4 different appointments to get the job done, each appointment being 2 hours or more, except for the last one when they put the new crown in. I still have feeling in the tooth next to the cheek and this is the first crown that he didn't have to bake in the oven after he was finished fitting it. Actually, he had one of his assistants, the young one, to do all of the fitting. And he charged me over $2,000 and I don't have insurance.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2004 at 12:30PM
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Everyone's given so much good advice, I can only think of a few things to add:

1) if your tooth is infected, you should do the antibiotics *before* you have the root canal if at all possible (sometimes, it's not possible, like when the dentist is replacing a filling and "starts" a RC due to deep decay or a bad vertical crack.)

2) it's very important, particularly for molars, to go to an Endodontist (RC specialist). They not only have more education--specialized education and training--they also have MUCH more experience than the plain ol' DDS. Plus, for teeth like molars, there are all sorts of nerve passageways that can be missed if the dentist doesn't see them on an x-ray. (Endos have much more sensitive x-ray machines.) The younger you are, the more of these you have in your teeth, according to my Endo.

3) I've been told, by both DDS and Endo, that it's important to not do the final, permanent filling or crown at the instant the RC is done, but fairly quickly thereafter. The reasoning is that, if it's done properly, pain will dissipate within a day or two, but if it's not--and you've got the permanent crown/filling/whatever over it--you'll have to drill through that expensive piece of dental work. Not only that, but you expose the next bit of dental work (to fix the continuing pain) to more "margins" and therefore more bacteria in the long term.

Finally, to address the subject line, yes, it's worth it most times. The longer you can keep your natural teeth in your mouth (roots and all), the longer your body will keep repairing and strengthening that part of your jaw. You will be exposed to more bone loss wherever you are missing a natural tooth. I've read some studies which showed that implants mitigate this somewhat, but bridgework and dentures never do.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2004 at 3:25PM
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I agree with Simgirl about the endodontist. There's no comparison. Mine is faster and better than either of my dentists have been, and I have good dentists. Root canals are what endodontists do all day.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2004 at 11:07AM
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If you have overall GOOD teeth and have not had many dental problems, then yes. But beware! If you had no antibiotic treatment beforehand, you need to change dentists. I have been troubled with horrible teeth all of my life. I have had 13 root canals. All failed over time. The underlying problem is that the CAUSE of the infection never really leaves your mouth and can continue to riddle you with lifelong dental and health problems. I now have 8 teeth left in my mouth. 2 more infectioned teeth and I just had 4 teeth pulled due to infections. ( yes I brush my teeth 2-3 times daily) I will be on antibiotics for the next month. After talking to other people, much of that is due to me having so many "root canals" over the years. My opinion... if you have an infected tooth, GET IT OUT OF YOUR MOUTH!

    Bookmark   August 30, 2011 at 9:23PM
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Dude.. why bring up a post that is over EIGHT YEARS old?

    Bookmark   August 31, 2011 at 11:14AM
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Why is it considered an offense when someone responds to or "brings up" an old post that likely was found via a search for relevant terms? There's good info in both "old" and new posts.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 8:52AM
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1. The original poster after several years does not need any more advise or comments.
2. Some posts are originally submitted to have all comments sent directly to them. Would you like or remember why all of a sudden a email is received for something you commented on years ago.
3. Many spammers will reopen old threads to market they wares. Generally ignored by most.
4. If you have something to say just start a new thread and say it. You can say it better by starting your own thread than adding to a really old one.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 4:21PM
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1. There was a recent thread in another forum section to which someone posted after several years had passed. The OP came back and posted a follow-up advising how the situation had resolved.

2. See #1.

3. The reply in this case has no indications of being spam.

4. I had not seen this old thread and found it to be interesting. See #1, #2, and #3 above.

5. Chill out.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 10:05PM
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"4. I had not seen this old thread and found it to be interesting."

I agree.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 10:57AM
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My dentist doesn't "do" root canals. He sends you to a specialist, much pricier. I've had 2 root canals in my life, both saved teeth that had major holes or cracks. Those two teeth are still in my mouth, my smile is attractive for someone in their late 50's. (I'm not admitting "how" late). And I can eat just about anything without pain. so for me root canals are indeed worth it. My MIL was in her 80's and getting very expensive "implants" in an attempt to avoid dentures.She spent about $30,000 in 2 years on her teeth. And those expensive implants went with her to her grave. In that case, "not" worth it.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 10:46AM
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I had a tooth that cracked due to a large, old filling. Dentist then crowned it. It became infected AFTER the crown was on. Dentist drilled through the crown and did a root canal.

3 years later it became infected again. He drilled it out again and did a 2nd root canal. He couldn't clear up the infection and did a series of very painful "ream outs" of the roots. After 3 of those, he sent me to an endodontist. The endo did ANOTHER root canal then filled the tooth.

A year later it got infected again. Dentist sent me back to the endo. The endo said "you must have small auxilliary roots running off your roots that don't show up on an xray. We have to do an apico to see." That's cutting through the gum and removing the tip of the root from the bone. I said no way, I want a second opinion.

I went to another dentist for the 2nd opinion. He said based on the history of that tooth, he would just pull it. He said sometimes a dentist or endo can do everything right, and still the tooth continues to get infected and they can't figure out why. When he pulled it, it came out without even a tug. It had been so infected it had eroded the tendon at the base of the root and basically was just sitting in the socket not really being held in.

I spent over $6000 on all of this. Was it worth it? NO. I suffered, suffered and suffered again. I missed many days of work. One time it got infected on a Friday night and I suffered until Monday morning when my dentist was open - and I mean SUFFERED, high fever, chills and pain.

I will never have another root canal. If another tooth gets infected, I will immediately have it pulled.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2011 at 10:08PM
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Ugh, I need a crown on a cracked molar with an old filling. Dentist also refers to endo for root canals. Had a crown by her, she said it didn't need root canal, less than a year later needed to have it drilled through for a root canal.
I go to the local dental school now for anything more than a filling, reg. dentist is just too expensive.

Love my dentist but getting tired of paying for her house on the lake, $40K car, and staff of 6 (and usually 2 of the 6 are gossiping the whole time I'm there). She now looks at my teeth w/a microscope type thing and seemed sorry I didn't have a cavity last time I was there. The rest of our family has left her practice and gone elsewhere due to her constant pushing of services. DH is ready to leave too now after an incident with them selling him expensive services he didn't need. Funny, they never try to upsell me! I have no qualms asking for a referral to the dental school, figure I'll just go there for everything if she balks.

But I will say I thank heavens for modern dental care, can't imagine the days when one just had to suffer or have all their teeth yanked out!

And I think this thread is worth reviving, topic is still active, no spammers...yet :)

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 11:56AM
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Dental school nearby?

Go there ... maybe they'll take you on.

I had great experience there ... at very reasonable cost (as outlined above).

Once when my student (an east Indian female with very gentle hands, by the way) was figuring my bill, with $32.00 for initial extraction in a quadrant and $16 for each thereafter in that quadrant, and I'd had 5 removed, I said, "$96.00". At the conclusion of her calculations, to the figure that I'd used, she and the secretary looked at me and asked how I'd figured it out so quickly. I said that the first removal was $32.00, and the four remaining at $16.00 was equivalent to 2 x $32.00 ... and that 3 x 30 was 90, and 3 x 2 was 6, for a total of $96.00.

Unfortunately, my one single and one pair of teeth remaining in my lower jaw have shifted, so that my partial hasn't fit in a long time, so I haven't used it. Should go back to the dental school to see whether they can repair it, I guess.

ole joyful ... largely toofless

    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 6:41PM
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I feel like I am re-living the original poster's nightmare. Very glad that people have continued to post and lots of great info here. In my case, my tooth was tender to the touch, seemed to have shifted or was a little loose, and the dentist just said, "you want to try to save it right?" He did not offer his opinion on whether the chances were good to save it or not. ASK QUESTIONS - THESE DENTISTS DO KNOW. He had done a root canal for me the year before without problems but this time was so different with the above symptoms. He did not try to get a large area of my mouth numb, did it in stages, caused me panic attacks, aggravated the nerve with the last shot and when I thought he was going to give more pain killer, he started drilling, which for the first minute or two, maybe, was tolerable, then the severe pain started. I am not a screamer, but wish I had let it loose - maybe he would have stopped - I swear it was torture with comments that it would be over after just a little more and a little more and finally just after the filling because he could not even begin a crown prep and had to see if the tooth would rebound. I cried off and on all day! and suffered most of the weekend every time the pain killers wore off alternating between ibuprofen and Tylenol with and without Vicodin. Swelling started on Sunday, got him to call me in an antibiotic but going to travel back to my home town 60 miles away hopefully tomorrow to get my old dentist to pull it. I can't live like this.

I did call my old dentist at home in desperation - just needed her to say she would try to work me in. She said a tooth sensitive to the touch like this is considered a "hot tooth" and it is not recommended to try to save it. Hope this helps someone in the future to avoid this type of pain. If I don't stay on top of it with pain medications (now taking Alleve at prescription doses in hopes of a little more time to sleep) I am in severe pain from tooth root through my jaw, TMJ and ear. I hope this saves someone else some suffering!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 3:12AM
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This is a very interesting thread. I am so sorry to hear about the pain some of you have experienced with root canals. I had one, but the dentist was excellent, and it didn't hurt. I was terrified to have it done. It did take hours. I went to a clinic.

I know this is an old thread, but personally, if I had to haave work done over, I would write the dentist who did the original work a letter and ask for my money back. I took a dentist to Small Claims Court once. I didn't win, because I had waited to long. By law crowns only have to last for five years. I had to have one redone because it was placed on the tooth incorrectly. It looked like a beret. The wisdom tooth was crowding it. I had to have the wisdom tooth pulled and the crown done over. I didn't win the court case because the dentist cut off the photo of the wisdom tooth in the xray. I didn't realize it until later. He later went out of business.
On a more positive note: after finishing all the work, I now use a system of self care. It's a combination of chewing zylotol gum and using three risnes each time you brush. The dentist's name is Dr. Ellie and she wrote a book called Kiss Your Dentist Good-Bye. It's an investment to buy the rinses, but the system has really worked for me. She has a (I am not connected with her in any way.) I have several crowns and they have lasted me for 20 or more years. I would say a good root canal is definitely worth it.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 11:41PM
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"I didn't win the court case because the dentist cut off the photo of the wisdom tooth in the xray. I didn't realize it until later. He later went out of business."

Wow. Thanks for posting this. I'll be sure to get copies of my dental xrays before I have any type of work like this done in the future.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 1:11PM
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I have never had a root canal and probably never will. Especially after reading the following.

Why You Should Avoid Root Canals Like the Plague
By Dr. Mercola-November 16 2010

Many people have had questions about root canals so I thought it would be wise to repost this article.

It was an interview with Dr. George Meinig, who was dentist and leader in teaching people about the dangers of root canals. He wrote the book Root Canal Cover Up.

Because I first became aware of this information in the early '90s I was able to avoid having any root canals. I elected to have three teeth extracted and now have two bridges to replace those teeth.

At the time that was my best option, as I believe that metal implants should be avoided. However in the last few years non-reactive metal implants made from zirconium have become available and that is what I would use now if I had to have an alternative to a root canal.

Why I Encourage You to Think Twice Before Getting a Root Canal

Please don't let your dentist mislead you that a root canal is your only option, or that it is entirely safe.

A link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 1:20PM
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Mercola? Seriously?

I have had five root canals... three due to a car accident.
I am fortunate that the experiences were painless and the results wonderful.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 11:21AM
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I had a root canal a month after we were married -- 22 years ago this month. Since the first few days of healing, I've never had a minute's trouble with it. Worth the money? Absolutely.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 9:11PM
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