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I am anxious about root canal treatment

Dear Dr. Pinder

Exactly one month ago I’ve been diagnosed with an upper molar root canal treatment to be done and since then I’ve been consuming myself with anxiety and I still haven’t done it.
Mainly because, I had a root canal treatment a few years ago on NHS (front tooth) with the same dentist and apart of dislike the procedure which is already not very pleasant, the dentist was very quick with everything and gave me the feeling that she wanted to finish everything very quick on the same day, without caring and that didn’t make me feel relax at all. In fact I even had a bit of pain during the actual procedure, when it should be painless and the previous experience contribute for my anxiety and phobia now.
I’ve been contacting other doctors/dentists but I still didn’t overcome my fear to carry one with the treatment, and even more now that I’ve been told that a molar root canal treatment is more lengthy and difficult because has more roots.
During this month, I didn’t experience much pain, maybe 3 times but one time quite severe which last almost 3 hours. All pain always happened night time and specially when I lay down in bed.
I supposed to go abroad on holidays in August and didn’t go yet,(and I’m regretting because I’ll may not have some more spare time before start working). That’s because I’ve been told that something could erupt/cabin pressure, etc. Despite some other advises telling me to take some painkillers (Co codamol) and antibiotics (Amoxicilin 500mg) to prevent and then I could go, I didn’t go because I’m still in doubt and very anxious about this treatment and that also something can happening while on the plane.
I’ve been also told that I can’t go abroad (take a flight) straight after this treatment, which makes me more anxious of not been able to have this break I was planning and this root canal treatment came on my way, unplanned.
I thought even to ask my dentist for a referral to do this treatment with and Endodontic, who is more specialized on this treatment and will carry on differently and perhaps will take my fears away because I don’t know how to do it. Also I don’t know if I can get an Endondotic who take patients on NHS because, at the moment, I can’t afford this treatment privately.
It’s my birthday by the end of the week and I had plans for it but the whole anxiety about this treatment and uncertainty of going on a flight is high.
Sorry about the lengthy email.
I can also attached the x ray of the tooth if needed.
Your advice and suggestions are much appreciated, thank you.


Hello, I think your anxiety is getting the better of you .
If you keep asking different people they may all tell you different things .
Its several years since your last root treatment and techniques and materials may have changed .
Some dentists are more matter of fact and are able to work more quickly than others , and when doing treatments like root canals may be focused on doing a good job .
Yes a molar has more canals and therefore the treatment takes longer . BUT whatever happens your tooth should be completely numb when its done .
Im not sure whether your tooth still has a live nerve or whether the nerve has died . If it is alive then antibiotics wont do anything to kill pain . If its dead then they might .
There is no reason why you cant fly , but really it would be much better to at least have the first stage of the treatment done , which should take away the risk of any problems while you have your holiday .
Its almost impossible to get specialist treatment on the NHS , and where it is possible there are very long waits .
Dont let this spoil your birthday , if the tooth isn’t painful at the moment , then put it out of your mind till after that , But make it a goal to make the appointment to get the job done , the longer its left the greater the risk of the tooth blowing up , then it might not be saveable
Hope this helps

Answer provided by: Dr Jennifer Pinder Retired
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