root canal anxiety

You know the show The King of Queens – lovable goof Doug and his sassy wife, Carrie, living in New York. On one particular episode, Doug was dreading his upcoming root canal treatment and then suspecting his dentist of being intentionally rough because of his romantic feelings for Carrie. A hilarious take on an otherwise cliche concept: a guy needs a root canal, root canal anxiety ensues. 

The very word “root canal” can cause anxiety for many patients, and it’s not hard to see why. Modern endodontics is rarely portrayed accurately. This is unfortunate because a successful root canal is a key to ending discomfort and saving your natural teeth. At Ballantyne Endodontics, we recognize that root canal anxiety is real, and NOT hilarious, so we hope this article helps alleviate any root canal anxiety you may be experiencing.

It is important we also want to remind you that this article is not a substitute for professional medical care. We urge you to see your dentist and other medical care professionals according to your recommended schedule. We share this information because a knowledgeable patient is empowered to make the best choices for their oral health.

Top Six Ways to Relieve Root Canal Anxiety

We hope these six ideas will help you face your upcoming root canal with optimism rather than dread or anxiety.

1. Become an Informed Patient

In our experience, practicing in the Charlotte area for over a decade, one of the most effective cures for root canal anxiety is education. For some, the term “root canal” has a negative connotation. Whether you had a poor experience during childhood or have seen endodontics portrayed as something to fear on television or in movies, our goal is the same: relieve your stress with information. 

We utilize many different techniques to keep patients comfortable during their appointments, from warm blankets and complimentary headphones to thorough anesthetizing. Valium is another option that provides a deep level of calm and relaxation while allowing the patient to remain awake. During your evaluation, feel free to share any anxious feelings you may be experiencing about treatment, and your provider can determine if Valium would be an appropriate calming method for you. Please be assured that we will never begin treatment unless YOU are ready and a successful root canal will relieve the root cause of acute and chronic pain that you may already be experiencing. Finally, a root canal enables many patients to keep their natural teeth and smile, and what’s a better outcome than that? 

We encourage you to schedule an appointment with an endodontist to learn more about their practice, possible treatment options, and to gather all the information you may need to feel comfortable. Don’t be afraid to ask what to expect during treatment and the recovery process – your questions are valid! This knowledge helps you prepare and removes much of the mystery associated with root canal therapy.

Becoming an informed patient often relieves the anxiety associated with any medical or dental procedure. 

2. Look to the Future

It bears repeating. If you are a candidate, a root canal is usually the best treatment option leading to less pain, inflammation, and infection. Modern endodontists are constantly educating themselves on newer methods and advanced technology to keep you comfortable while removing the source of your symptoms. We also want to help you get back to normal life as soon as possible!

One of the most common questions we are asked during calls with new patients is what kind of timeline to expect. The first visit to Ballantyne Endodontics is always a thorough evaluation. We want to get to know you and your tooth before beginning any kind of treatment. Once the diagnosis is confirmed and a treatment plan is agreed upon, we can move forward. We strive to complete treatment in a single visit, and the GentleWave procedure that our office performs greatly increases that likelihood.

Try to focus on the positive aspects of keeping the tooth and how quickly your discomfort may be alleviated. Choosing a root canal allows you to keep your natural bite in place and is the ideal outcome whenever possible. If you are a candidate for a root canal, then it is most likely your best alternative to losing that tooth and experiencing an extraction.

The end result of a healthy mouth is well worth the process of root canal therapy. We recommend you approach the procedure with optimism and follow any advice from your endodontist for the smoothest recovery possible. 

3. Practice Self-Care and Pampering

Like any kind of stress, root canal anxiety may be alleviated with a little self-care and pampering.

In the time leading to your procedure, consider treating yourself to any healthy activities that help you deal with stress. For example, if you find a massage relaxing, consider booking one. 

Reach out to friends and loved ones who uplift you and ask for their support. Some people hesitate to discuss their concerns with loved ones, but most likely, they will want to offer emotional support or even accompany you to your appointment.

If you enjoy relaxing in a bubble bath with a good book, set aside time to do that in the time leading up to your appointment.

4. Also Plan to Pamper Yourself During Your Recovery Process

Plan for your recovery. Consider preparing entertainment you can passively enjoy in the days following treatment. 

  • Fill your Netflix queue with uplifting and positive entertainment, including a couple of your favorite films or series that you would love to re-watch. 
  • Buy or borrow a good book from your local library. 
  • Consider downloading an audiobook or a few of your favorite podcasts. Finally, prepare a comfortable space to relax. 

Some people like to stock up on foods that are appropriate for recovery. You’ll want to be gentle with the treated tooth, so we recommend talking with your endodontist about planning healthy and delicious smoothies, yogurts, or other soft and soothing foods. As if you really need an excuse to enjoy your favorite milkshake!

Ask your endodontist which pain management they recommend for you. If possible, arrange to get any medications in advance or have a family member or trusted friend pick them up for you.

If you find certain scents, soft lighting, or flowers soothing consider placing some in the areas, you plan to spend most of your recovery time. For example, some people like soft lighting like a Himalayan Salt Lamp, LED candles, or soft light bulbs. 

When you return home or to your office to a comfortable and welcoming environment, it makes the recovery process a little less stressful. Some people experience less anxiety when they know they planned ahead for their own comfort and wellbeing.

5. Try Meditation, Visualization, and Relaxation Techniques

Experiment with relaxation techniques if you don’t already have a practice. Many people find that meditation, prayer, visualization, or even just listening to soothing music helps them deal with stress and anxiety.

It can be well worth learning a few techniques and using those that suit you. There are so many apps for guided visualizations and meditation that you can learn relaxation techniques in the privacy of your home. Our patients particularly enjoy Headspace and Calm apps.

6. Find the Right Endodontic Specialist

Finally, choosing the right endodontist or dental specialist will go a long way to relieving root canal anxiety. Any procedure is less stressful when you know you are in the hands of a team of skilled professionals. As endodontists, we have dedicated our careers to studying and performing root canals. It’s all we do! Our entire team participates in continuing education courses and constantly seeks to perfect our craft. We are well-versed and invest in the best endodontic technology available. 

Ask friends and colleagues who previously had root canals who they saw and whether they would recommend them. Check their reviews! In addition, ask your dentist, who will have knowledge of the most skilled local professionals. If your provider does not require them, consider requesting a consultation so you can discuss the procedure and your concerns with the specialist.

Many root canal procedures require two visits to a dentist. However, some specialists may use state-of-the-art technology that can eliminate the need for more than one visit, such as the GentleWave. Finding one of these endodontists may make your experience more efficient and pleasant.

We hope this information helps relieve any root canal anxiety you may be experiencing. At Ballantyne Endodontics, we have helped thousands of patients maintain their natural teeth without the discomfort and keep their natural smiles! We would be pleased to be a resource for you, as well.

Don’t hesitate to contact us today or ask your dentist for a referral to Ballantyne Endodontics.