After my checkup and cleaning, I went back to take care of the cavities late last week. I knew that the dentist and I would get along just fine as soon as I got there and he greeted me with, “I prefer my patients to be more numb rather than less, so we’re going to give you lots of novocaine.” And then he did and it was wonderful.

As they’d feared, the one tooth that was in really bad shape needed a root canal. Now, what they didn’t tell me - it seemed like they assumed I knew - was that it’s a three-part process. They took care of the two minor cavities and (I guess?) drilled out the decay in the bad one, then sent me on my way.

I went back for my third appointment this Tuesday. This one was the actual root canal part, if I understand things correctly. They drilled some more, then - and this was my favorite part - spent about ten minutes PULLING STUFF OUT OF MY FACE. He had filled me up with novocaine again, so it didn’t hurt, but let me tell you: trying to keep your head back on the headrest while a doctor keeps yanking nerves out of your jaw is strange to experience. I was a little sore when the novocaine wore off, but a couple of Advil cleared that up.

The third appointment was the next day, because I was trying to get this all done as soon as possible. This time, they actually took apart a lot of the tooth. They scraped out the root canal a little more, filled it in, and shaved down the outside of the tooth so they can put a crown on it. I have a temporary crown that already seems to be coming off a little bit, but more importantly, my face hurt like hell. The novocaine had started to wear off by the time I got home. The appointment was in the morning, so I planned to go into work once it was over, but I was numb enough that my mouth still didn’t work right, and felt enough that it was sore. I logged into our VPN and tried to get some work done, but it just kept getting worse and worse to the point where I couldn’t focus. I took a handful of Advils and a short nap, and was mostly OK from there on out.

I have to go back in about three weeks, once the final crown has been made, to have that put on. I’m assuming that part will be cake, so I can say with authority that a root canal isn’t as terrible as everyone makes it sound. Sure, it hurt, but not half as bad as I was expecting. Really, the worst part was the fact that I’ve had to go in there so many times to get the damn thing finished, but the doctor and his staff are really friendly so it could have been a lot worse.

Let this be a lesson to you, though: I hadn’t seen a doctor in about five years, and I’m not sure I’ve ever flossed way in the back (I mean, there’s no space between those teeth - how could anything get in there?). It may not have been as awful as expected, but trust me, you don’t want to have to go through the process. Floss daily and see your dentist twice a year. And if you have to get a root canal, at least you’ll know what to expect.