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Root canal: didn't use the rubber sheet, gave me a 50/50 success rate!?

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Old 05-16-2007, 10:06 AM   #1
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Root canal: didn't use the rubber sheet, gave me a 50/50 success rate!?

I just had a root canal done by a very friendly (new) dentist. The waiting room was full and people seemed happy and were chatting up the dentist and the front office lady, so I assumed that was a good sign. There was a 30-something guy and a 30-something girl, 2 old ladies and a middle aged "take no bull" kind of Italian guy, all appeared very happy and willing to wait. Judging by this, I inferred that this guy was the friendly neighborhood dentist who was probably well-referred and worth the wait...

He gave me a 2.5 year guarantee on the crown and was very, very nice all around. So, when he gave me the options and I chose "root canal", I was a bit surprised he started setting up to do the procedure IMMEDIATELY... But weighed against my previous dentists or the chain-type dental office "Vitaldent," I figured this guy was the best choice. So, I went ahead and got the root canal done right then.

But, I have a couple questions that I'm concerned about:

1. He said my tooth was SO dead that it had a 50/50 chance of failing. Most people seem to claim that root canals are 90-95% successful. Either he's just being honest or... I don't know, letting himself off the hook early?! ;-)

2. He didn't use the rubber tent thing that is so common in root canals. This shields your mouth from the cloroxy-tasting disinfectant they use to clean the canals and protects your mouth from falling debris (broken dental tools).

3. It was very quick! I don't know how long these things usually take, but I got the feeling most of the care was in the initial consultation; the actual procedure seemed kind of like "slam bam thank you ma'am"

4. He lanced the fistula, but it's already back. Normal?

Now, I've never had a root canal before, so maybe this is all normal. To me, it makes me a little nervous that this treatment is doomed...

Last edited by Toofless; 05-16-2007 at 10:56 AM.

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Old 05-16-2007, 10:34 AM   #2
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Thelma-Louise HB UserThelma-Louise HB UserThelma-Louise HB User
Re: Root canal: didn't use the rubber sheet, gave me a 50/50 success rate!?

I had a rc done by a dentist and then 3 more done by an endodontist and thought the latter was much better. No one can really give an actual guarantee on how long things will last,etc unless they are quite experienced in what they do, that's why endo's are better - their equipment tends to be more specialised as well. Having one treatment on the tooth and yet getting another fistula does not seem right to me, but my endo has always told me that the infection isn't totaly gone until the 2nd treatment - sometimes 3 treamtents are necessary but 2 seemed to work on the rcs I have had done. My appts always took an hour but it had to do more with how many canals needed to be treated, if they were narrow or not and how bad the infection was. Are you sure he did the rc and not just debride the infection? Did he prescribe an anti-biotic?

Old 05-16-2007, 10:51 AM   #3
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Re: Root canal: didn't use the rubber sheet, gave me a 50/50 success rate!?

Yeah, he did it all at once: popped the fistula, drilled a hole in my tooth and scraped the canals out with tiny little instruments, filled them with that clorox solution, scraped between my tooth roots to get out the dead tooth stuff between the roots (this is why he said it was a 50/50 shot because the center of my tooth was all black in the x-ray: dying/dead/infected).

Maybe from the first shot of novacaine to the time I walked out the door the procedure might've been an hour, but that would include the waiting around and signing papers and stuff... It didn't hurt at all, so I'm happy about that.

He didn't say ANYTHING about 2nd and 3rd treatments. I know all together I have 3 appointments, but I presume they're for the post and crown fittings. The Vitaldent chain dentist I went to was going to have 4 appointments and they gave me a 97% chance of success, but I remember I had a similar success rate quoted for my implant a few years ago elsewhere-- and it failed the first time. Vitaldent had "a specialist" but it turns out he's only 4 years out of dental school and is "currently getting his certification" to be an endodontist. The reason I went with this dentist instead is: 1. he seemed confident and super-nice, 2. he was very upfront, 3. he appeared to be in-demand, 4. he told me the actual cost of a dental implant was only $300... from my previous research I know they only cost $12 to make, but maybe dentists get them for $300, I don't know-- at least he was honest enough to offer that they jack up the prices. 5. he answered all my questions and didn't really try to sway me either way; in fact, he said there was a 50/50 chance so that I know and maybe don't want to "waste my money." (Of course, the alternative options were an expensive bridge or an implant, he didn't really say, "I could just yank it out for $200," but why would he say that, anyway???)

In short, I'm sure an endodontist is better, but around here (NYC), they are VERY expensive. Meanwhile, all the dentists are like, "Eh, no big deal."

But, like I said, I'm worried that he didn't seem to "follow procedure" in that there was no "rubber tent" in my mouth.

PS - oh yes, he prescriped amoxo-something, an antibiotic. I was already finishing up some penicillin; I think they're roughly about the same thing, but he did prescribe Motrin800 and amoxo-whatever.

Last edited by Toofless; 05-16-2007 at 12:38 PM.

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