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Dental Dam-Why oh why?!

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skippy1712

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I added to my original post but since I did that I have become exceedingly more freaked out about that stupid sheet of latex they supposedly use. I watched some youtube videos of it. I don't understand how you can breathe!? It covers the ENTIRE mouth! Why, why why?! I am a fan of oxygen, please don't deprive me of that, too! Isn't complete power over me enough? Why take away the ability to freely get a breath of air?! Is that supposed to make people more compliant or what? I can't stand a sheet over my face how am I supposed to get through hours with my mouth covered? Is it so you can't speak or say anything?! My dental hygienist got on to me for holding my breath when she was cleaning my teeth, but these people make you do it?! What do they get out of shoving that thing down in your mouth?! The balance of power is already completely in their favor, why this too?! And what about that clamp thing it is held on with!? That thing looks evil!
 
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kaitlin4599

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if im not mistaken its to prevent infection from reaching the area of the tooth they are working on i.e. so they can work in a clean sterile enviroment
 
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Sevena

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Most dentists are willing not to use one, if they make the patient more nervous. They're not required. I don't think I've ever had treatment with one.
 
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comfortdentist

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In general the best dentists will often use one or another device to control moisture and protect you from being hurt.
You can actually breath via your mouth better with a rubber dam in place than without. The issue becomes one of fear which needs to be addressed properly. For most claustrophobic people I can help them accept and in some cases prefer the security of the rubber dam over spraying water and debris throughout their mouth.

Other benefits:
I can see much better as their is excellent contrast with the rubber dam as the background
Your tongue isn't in my way
Your lip isn't in my way
Your cheek isn't in my way
Your floor of your mouth isn't in my way.
I am not constantly distracted by having to manage the above body parts while operating on you.
ALL dental materials require a clean dry field during their placement and the rubber dam helps greatly in that regard.
ALL of the above body parts have been injured during dental treatment.
 
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skippy1712

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You said something I don't understand at all. You said people can breathe better with the plastic sheet than without. That doesn't make sense to me. If there is something between my mouth/lungs and the air I need, how is it possible to breathe better? That sounds impossible and the exact opposite of what having something over your mouth would be. Don't the plastic shopping bags say to keep away from babies so they don't suffocate? How is covering your mouth with this plastic different?
I am glad it is helpful to the dentist, but I don't think I can hold my breath long enough for a whole procedure or do they move it every few minutes so you can take a breath? What happens if you pass out before they take it off to uncover your mouth? Isn't it a natural reaction to fight for oxygen and air when you aren't getting it...how do I override that and make myself accept it?
I can fake not being in pain with the best of them and can hide that from the dentist, but I don't know if I can fake not suffocating. I am really not sure I can. I am not trying to be a bother or a problem for the dentist, but I need to breathe. This particular thing seems common to cut off the mouth from the outside from what I have been reading, how do other people get away without air for that long?
 
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Sevena

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You're supposed to be able to get in air through the sides of the dam. But also many people can breathe through their nose and if you're not comfortable with that (I am definitely not! I often have sinus troubles that make nose-breathing not so great, plus if I'm nervous, I need to be able to breathe totally unhindered through my mouth) then you don't have to have a dental dam. Like I said, they are *not* necessary. They are almost never used in my country.

They have benefits, but they also have negatives. Anxious patients often are not okay with them, and that's fine. I've had almost every treatment under the sun, and never had a dentist use a dental dam. And my treatment was fine.
 
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skippy1712

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That one post seemed to indicate it would be dangerous without and that it might make it where the dentist would be able to hurt me more. I don't want to do something that is bad for me, but I am just not convinced I can fake it for that long without good air. I guess I don't have any choice but to try, but I am so concerned I will give away the fact that I can't breathe and he will get angry and mean.
 
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skippy1712

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This dental dam thing has me completely freaked. I looked at so many pictures and websites tonight trying to get my head wrapped around it. I just felt sicker and sicker the longer I looked. I finally decided to try and practice with a plastic shopping bag. Somehow I could still breathe. I don't know if I just couldn't plaster it down as tightly as the dentist can the dental dam to cut off the airflow. I will maybe keep doing it a few times a day and even if it isn't exactly the same maybe it will help me fake fine through at least them getting it on. (Except for those clips....that looks horrendous! Any one able to tell me about those?!)
Should I try it with my nose covered too, or just the mouth? Most of the pictures seemed to show most of the nose still visible, but I want to be sure.
 
FearfulInMA

FearfulInMA

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You will be able to breathe through your mouth and nose. There is space between the dam and your mouth and I've never had the dam cover my entire mouth. There's no need to hold your breath or to think you will not get the same amount of air you're used to. Also, your nose will not be covered - but, like I said, you will also be able to breathe normally through your mouth.

What clips are you talking about? The one that goes around the tooth? I think Tink mentioned that it's thin and really just feels like floss between your teeth - and sometimes doesn't feel like anything at all because the tooth they are working on is numb.
 
FearfulInMA

FearfulInMA

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Also - it looks like you created another thread in error, so I deleted it.
 
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Tink

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I finally decided to try and practice with a plastic shopping bag. Somehow I could still breathe. I don't know if I just couldn't plaster it down as tightly as the dentist can the dental dam to cut off the airflow. I will maybe keep doing it a few times a day and even if it isn't exactly the same maybe it will help me fake fine through at least them getting it on.
Please, please do not do this. It is incredibly dangerous. Please. You are putting yourself at risk. I cannot say this strongly enough, do not EVER, EVER put a plastic bag over your head or mouth to restrict your breathing.


DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES TRY COVERING YOUR NOSE TOO.


What you are missing is that you CAN breathe with the dental dam in place. You do not need to simulate being completely unable to breathe because you can breathe. You do not need to simulate cutting off the airflow because they will not be cutting off your airflow.


You will get air. You will never have to "get away with not having air" for any length of time at all.

You will not suffocate.

You will not pass out.

You can breathe.



Please don't try to suffocate yourself.
 
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skippy1712

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Thank you to the person who got rid of my mistake new thread. I couldn't figure out how to do that so I just changed the words.

I wasn't trying to suffocate myself at all! I was just trying to do the closest thing I could do to what the dentist would do to try and teach myself to get through it. I figured that was better than letting him see me freak out.

I read all about them online last night. One dentist asked people's opinions on them on his page and the opinions were so awful. Almost everyone of them talked about suffocating, being claustrophobic, or not being able to breathe. That was why I thought I better try and prepare. None of them talked about being fine with it. Several said they had to leave without the work down because of it and were still charged...and numbed! I definitely wanted to avoid that.

Most everything I read showed them held in place with these metal clips. They look like they shove into the gum/tooth line. Some people talked about them damaging their gums and teeth. Other people had ongoing problems and some the dentist used the clip to chip other teeth or to scratch off enamel requiring them to get extra work. These things did not look like dental floss at all!

Is there any other way to train for this thing then that you can think of?
 
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Tink

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The reason that the clips don't hurt is because they use local anaesthetic, making sure your gums are completely numb. I asked my dentist about it to see if we could do a practise run (coming to that in a second) but he explained that he wasn't keen to put it on me without numbing as the clip "might be a wee bit nippy". So it's all about the anaesthetic.

You asked how they fit down between your teeth, which is why I mentioned floss. Floss was offered as an example of a thing that fits down between your teeth - the metal ring fits down in the same way.

The metal ring did not damage my teeth in any way at all, and my gums did not hurt afterwards. I didn't feel a thing.



Is there any other way to train for this thing then that you can think of?
Yes, but it involves working with the dentist. I've done it, and it worked.

I asked my dentist to show me the rubber dam beforehand and talk me through how it worked. He showed me the rubber sheet, the clips they use to put it on, and the plastic frame. He described how it goes on and demonstrated as far as he could, but we didn't attach it because I wasn't numbed up (see above) and he didn't want the clips to hurt. We talked about how they would keep it well away from my nose and make sure that I could breathe comfortably. We arranged in advance that they would give me a minute once it's on to see that I could breathe and reassure myself.

He also gave me one of the rubber sheets to take home with me, to help make it a more familiar non-threatening thing. It's important to note that I did not attempt to block my breathing with it, as that's not what it does.

Then when it came to the actual treatment, they put it on - carefully, in stages - and gave me a minute to lie back and breathe quietly. From there on in it was all fine.
 
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Thephilsblogbar

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When I needed my root canal redoing last year (after it lasting 10 years) I was asked whether I wanted the rubber dam, the dentists I have had in the past when I needed a filling or the root canal the first time did not ask.

I have it always.
 
FearfulInMA

FearfulInMA

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Just to add, when I had my root canal retreated, the endo used a dam with a clip - I was not numbed because the nerve was already dead (it needed to be retreated because when I had the original root canal 5 years ago a different endo wasn't able to fill the entire root because of how long and curvy it was). The clip did not hurt at all. It was kept away from my gum and did no damage to my tooth or the crown on my tooth.
 
Anxious Kitty

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When I had my root canal a few months ago, they used one of these. I did not really expect it, never had a root canal before and didn't know they used those...

Honestly, it was a minor annoyance at worst. You will be able to breathe through your nose AND your mouth as many others have said already. Please don't try to simulate it using a grocery bag; its not the same material and you don't have the tools and training they have to properly place it. You are not going to get the same result and trying to could be dangerous.

You will be fine! And I did not notice the clips at all. Stop looking up scare stories and images online, they are only going to make you feel worse. Things are seldom as bad as they look or sound.
 
DrMike

DrMike

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There are some good responses to this thread, but I feel compelled to add some observations and comments.
(By the way- I strongly agree that you should not practice yourself with a plastic bag- this could be dangerous, and actually will not give you a comparable experience anyway).

You CAN breathe when rubber dam is in place. Either via the nose (which is NOT covered) or via the mouth- as there are gaps at the side of the dam. In fact the dam acts as a barrier to prevent water etc going in the mouth during treatment- often making treatment MORE tolerable. I have many anxious patients and patients with strong gag reflexes, who actually prefer to have treatment with rubber dam in place.

I do usually warn patients that it can feel very strange having the dam in place, and the actual placement is usually the strangest part. Some people can feel a bit claustrophobic at first, but as they realize that they can in fact breathe, and swallow saliva, they soon start to feel more at ease.

The clasp is what allows the dam to be held in place. It does look odd and it does feel weird as it is placed, but it is OK once you get used to it.

Your dentist will have a good reason for wanting to use rubber dam. It won't just be about making his/her job easier- although it is true that it often does. Their priority will be your safety and the success of the treatment.
Rubber dam actually protects the airway from water/irrigation liquids/small instruments etc. It also allows the tooth to be kept dry (aiding bonding etc), and allows the tooth to be kept as sterile as possible if it is having root canal.

I think the main observation I have in this case is that it is clear that you really need to discuss your fears with your dentist.

Tell them that you are worried about not being able to breathe with rubber dam in place. They may be able to arrange to give you an opportunity to have it placed for a minute or two and then removed, with no treatment, to allow you the opportunity to experience it prior to your treatment appointment.

Rubber dam can be quickly removed. You and your dentist can set up a signal that you can give if you need treatment to stop and the dam to be quickly removed.

Thousands of people have treatment with rubber dam daily all over the world. I have NEVER heard of anyone ever suffocating because of it. You can breathe with it in place and cope with it however it is right that you should be prepared for it being a strange experience, and it is OK to feel apprehensive about it. Please do talk it over with your dentist so that they know how you feel.

Best wishes

Dr Mike
 
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Sevena

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DrMike's response is definitely the most comprehensive in the thread. :)
 
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skippy1712

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Thank you for all the comments.
It sounds like lots of people here have had this and lived to tell the tale. I don't understand it, but I can't dispute it.
I am thinking if I maybe keep my eyes closed the whole time then I won't be as likely to be focused on it being there as long as air really can somehow get through.
I am not comfortable letting the dentist know I am anxious about it because I don't want to give him reason to be angry, annoyed or rough from the get go. I would like to get as far along as possible (hopefully, all the way through!) without him having a clue what is going on in my head.
It's interesting that it sounds like there are a few dentists out there that might actually want to know for good reasons. They should create a secret sign so their patients could know which were which! Lol
 
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Tink

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*pokes head round the door for a second*

Hey, I'm really glad to see this! This is the first time I've seen you sound a little bit hopeful.

The reason there isn't a secret sign...is because it's most of them! It's normal. If you reach out to them for help, they will help you.


Dunno if you do such things, but here is a hug, in case you need one ---> :XXLhug:
 
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