Traumatic experience with root canal - is this normal?

Jul 2, 2022
I just had a particularly horrifically traumatic experience the other day at the endodontist and I need to understand what happened to me and whether this was in any way normal or acceptable. Hopefully someone here can offer me some insight.

I went in for a standard root canal treatment on tooth 20. It was noted as having a possible PARL and a small degree of root resorption. The dentist seemed competent enough, explained the procedure, performed cold test for numbness a few minutes after the anaesthetic was administered, all perfectly normal.

Then, shortly after he began drilling my tooth, I realized I wasn't totally numb and let him know. This has happened before in one of the three root canals I have had prior, and in that instance the dentist stopped drilling, injected more anaesthetic into the normal spot in the back of the jaw, waited a few minutes, and proceeded without further incident.

In this case however I experienced something straight out of a horror movie. This dentist took his needle and injected this stuff directly into my open tooth, directly into my goddamn nerve, in escalating stages, each one deepwr and more painful than the last. When I tell you I have experienced a LOT of pain in my life it is no exaggeration, and I can say unequivocally that this was the worst and most excruciatingly intense pain I've ever felt in my entire life. He gave me no warning, no explanation of what he was about to do, just went ahead and did this horrific and wholly unnecessary thing out of absolutely nowhere that had me sobbing and writhing in agony and left me completely shellshocked for the entire rest of the day.

Then, apparently uncomfortable with how I was obviously reeling from this treatment, he tried telling me "oh it's not hurting anymore" as if that mitigates in any way the sheer trauma of unexpectedly and deliberately being administered that level of pain or the level of cortisol pumping through my bloodstream as a result.

I literally had to cry in my car for fifteen minutes before I even dared drive afterwards, I was so overwhelmed by the experience, and have been having flashbacks of the whole event intruding into my mind since then.

Now three days later there is persistent numbness in my cheek, apparently nerve damage, and I'm still experiencing pressure sensitivity/pain, when this is something I've never experienced from previous root canals or any prior dental work before (and I have had a lot of that).

Can anyone please tell me if a) the way this dentist handled the unexpected situation was in any way, in any universe, standard or appropriate, b) if this is the likely cause of the nerve damage I'm experiencing, c) if I can expect this patch of numbness in my cheek to ever go away, and d) what measures, if any, I can take to avoid such awful treatment in the future.

Thanks in advance.

A traumatized patient


Jul 3, 2022
I am not a dentist but I so sorry for what you went through and can only say you need to change your dentist. That is truly a horror story. To go through that pain and then not be listened to is beyond terrifying! It doesn't bode well does it?!?


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