Feeling of suffocation through nose at dentist

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Labrown315

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Sep 19, 2020
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Hi everyone, I am a new member here and grateful to have found a support section. Hopefully I am posting this in correct section, forgive me as I maneuver the site.

I have had over the years many, many dental procedures, root canals, few extractions and lots of fillings. I always had dental anxiety but never to the point of where I am at now.

I am hoping the specific problem I have is something I might be able to get some feedback on. I will try my best to explain it.
Basically the problem is this. I feel like I am drowning/suffocating through my nose while I get dental work done. This is all due to the tools used. I feel the spray from the water sprayer going up my nose. The suction tool feels like it is sucking the oxygen out of my throat. The spray from the tooth that happens when the tooth is being drilled also combines with the water and goes up my nose. The air that blows from these tools during operations also goes up my nose. This combined has created an immense feeling of drowning/ unable to get air in to my nose, and hence, feel as if unable to get air. I have tried so hard to breathe through my mouth during the work, but struggle with that. So basically I cannot breathe through my nose during the work. The last time I was there when the dentist started his work, I had the biggest anxiety attack of my life, we had to stop before could even start, the dentist got annoyed, and said if this happens again he cant work with me. (Also, I am on disability, and money is a huge factor. I cannot easily get a new dentist, when do not have funds to be paying for new patient exams etc. And certainly in a million years could never afford the more intense sedation dentistry)

I have been wracking my brain trying to think of ways to minimize this drowning feeling. Of course it makes it much worse that I am tilted so far back, it makes the gasping for air feeling even worse. It does not help that my dentist has not been re-assuring, or trying to find ways to help work around this. I have not tried the nitrous, I almost do not know if it would help or make it worse. I think having my nostrils completely away from the feeling of the water, spray, suction by being covered by the mask might help. But then I also wonder if it will make me feel like I cant breathe even more.

im sorry for such a long, winding post, it is hard to explain. The best way I can, is to say that I feel like I am being waterboarded. I wish there was a way to shield my nostrils from the tools & their effects, without completely closing off my nose. I just want to know, does anyone else experience this? Or am I just an anxious nut who is first person to feel this experience? I know most who feel the drowning/suffocating feeling get it more from the trouble to breathe through the mouth, not so much the nose. If anyone has any feedback, I would appreciate it SO much! Thank you everyone!
 
krlovesherkids777

krlovesherkids777

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Labrown315

:welcome: Thank you so much for writing about your experiences. You are in a good place to do that, we are glad you are here and you never have to apologize for long posts here :) Most of us are guilty of that from time to time and its totally ok.. it helps to vent to others who understand.

That sounds awful.. agh.. the feeling of waterboarding I cannot imagine.. I have not experience this feeling during dental but have near drowned twice so can imagine the cross between that and dental work just being enough to throw anyone into a panic.

I'm sorry your dentist does not try to work to find ways around this and help you more, especially since it is hard financially and practically to find another dentist right now. That is such a hard place to be in.

Have you discussed this with your general practitioner at all? Maybe your Dr may have some ideas and even agree to talk to your dentist about the gravity of the situation? I'm so sorry you are going through this and again glad you are here!:grouphug:
 
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Labrown315

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Labrown315

:welcome: Thank you so much for writing about your experiences. You are in a good place to do that, we are glad you are here and you never have to apologize for long posts here :) Most of us are guilty of that from time to time and its totally ok.. it helps to vent to others who understand.

That sounds awful.. agh.. the feeling of waterboarding I cannot imagine.. I have not experience this feeling during dental but have near drowned twice so can imagine the cross between that and dental work just being enough to throw anyone into a panic.

I'm sorry your dentist does not try to work to find ways around this and help you more, especially since it is hard financially and practically to find another dentist right now. That is such a hard place to be in.

Have you discussed this with your general practitioner at all? Maybe your Dr may have some ideas and even agree to talk to your dentist about the gravity of the situation? I'm so sorry you are going through this and again glad you are here!:grouphug:

Awe thank you for the welcome and the support! When you experience such severe dental fear & anxiety... it is embarrassing, so to know I am not the only one who experiences it so terribly makes me feel not so alone ☺️

I spoke with my GP about the anxiety, to be honest she did not have much help to offer other than a few tablets of Ativan... which I took before getting my tooth pulled out the other day (which doesnt even really involve any of those tools, water spray etc) and it still did not do much to ease my anxiety. I am just so traumatized from the visit that induced the panic attack that I think I will panic even if I were just getting an xray done. My dentist did such a 180 flip in how he treats me since the panic attack. He used to be nice. Since that happened, he makes me feel like he is annoyed with me, judging my level of anxiety, and is very cold and stand off-ish now. I am now incredibly uncomfortable around him. It is awful because I still have a TON of fillings that need to be done, but now I really dont want to go. I have explained thoroughly and in detail about exactly why Im anxious. For some reason me being clear on the feeling of drowning & suffocating & unable to breathe through my nose, is not getting through to him.

I truly feel there must be something we can do to lessen this feeling, a way to shield my nostrils from the water spray, drill spray, air blowing... there has to be some way we can work around that. I have been trying to think is there something I can wear or do that could shield me, but have not been able to find anywhere online anyone else who experiences this. There must be something wrong with me. I am just at the point of giving up & just never going back. I wish he would sit and talk with me to try to figure it out, but he wont. Especially now with Covid it seems everything is even more rushed than usual, he has no time to just meet and talk quickly. I wonder if the rubber dam could be worn, and perhaps kind of pulled up to guard my nose...not completely plug my nostrils, but kind of shield me? I asked and he said I dont do the rubber dam when working on front teeth. Which is where its the worst feeling for me since your front teeth on top are directly below the nostrils.. that means the tools are even closer. I feel crazy even trying to explain the feeling in this forum, like I am not describing how it feels or making sense... I feel like I am the only one who feels suffocated & unable to get air in my nose. I know most people who feel suffocated feel it more through their mouth, and dont struggle with breathing through the nose. Its just the body has such a reflex reaction when it believes it is being deprived of air, I physically react with instinct. I dunno, I just feel totally lost, embarrassed, scared, and so angry at myself for being such a baby. I do not know where else to turn to try and find anyone else who can relate, or have a way to work around this.

Also having hard time today... had tooth extracted 2 days ago... I have had 3 dry sockets before, and I just have this feeling that its going to happen again, and I am dreading the pain. My dentist is also super duper against prescribing anything for pain, even with an agonizing condition such as dry socket. So I am just a huge ball of stress worrying about it all!!
Thank you again for the support, it means alot to feel that I am not alone in my fear! And again, Im sooo sorry for writing such massive posts! Just so much to try and fit in!
 
letsconnect

letsconnect

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Hi Labrown315 :welcome:

Your dentist sounds pretty abusive, it must be horrible feeling that you have no choice to try out anyone else due to money constraints :(.

When I was reading your post, I was wondering if you've always had this feeling of drowning/suffocating through your nose, and if the same thing has happened with other dentists/assistants in the past? It just seems an unusual thing to happen (like @krlovesherkids777, I don't think I've experienced this). Does this happen with all teeth, or just particular areas being worked on?

Thanks so much for joining and great to have you here :)!
 
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Labrown315

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Hi Labrown315 :welcome:

Your dentist sounds pretty abusive, it must be horrible feeling that you have no choice to try out anyone else due to money constraints :(.

When I was reading your post, I was wondering if you've always had this feeling of drowning/suffocating through your nose, and if the same thing has happened with other dentists/assistants in the past? It just seems an unusual thing to happen (like @krlovesherkids777, I don't think I've experienced this). Does this happen with all teeth, or just particular areas being worked on?

Thanks so much for joining and great to have you here :)!
Hello!

it has been very disappointing to see my dentist treat a patient this way, it hurt to hear him talk with the other patients in the rooms next to me with enthusiasm and friendliness, and then have him barely speak to me & be very abrupt & just not very nice. Im thinking... you are a dentist, you should kind of expect to deal with anxious people from time to time, not exactly uncommon. Unfortunately, I am someone who is on Disability, in my province, not all dentists are required to accept patients who are on it (since the small dental benefits I do have pay less for the work than say out of pocket, or people who have insurance plans. Hence, he makes less money when working with me) I want to find a new dentist, as now I just feel even worse anxiety wise in his presence. Since I am unable to work, and survive off of poverty level funds, I just dont have the extra cash to go to someone new :(

I feel that feeling during any appointment where the tools are being used, but especially when the front top teeth are done, since that means all the water and spray and suction is right under my nose. I do not know what to do about this. I think I just have to suffer & wait to save money to see a new dentist, it is hard to find one who accepts patients on assistance. I just feel super alone too since I have been unable to find anyone else who relates to it. Just feel at a loss. I wish I could afford the sleep dentistry, but the costs for that should be criminal, it is insane!
Thank you for the support ☺️☺️ It feels nice to at least not be treated like I am insane for being so fearful of the dentist.
 
krlovesherkids777

krlovesherkids777

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Labrown315,

Honestly, your dentists behavior is as @letsconnect says abusive and quite cringeworthy , just reading it.. I'm so sorry you had to go through that! It is not professional or ok, and pretty sure most other dentists would apologize for the previous dentists behavior as well hearing about it.

One question I did have was , did you experience this feeling with any other dentists? or is it him alone? made me wonder if he is being quite careless and sloppy? as well as inconsiderate and rude and if you are not the only one being somewhat waterboarded.. aghh.

Please know there is nothing wrong with you.. and you have done nothing wrong or that you need to apologize for. You are not a baby at all. if anyone is , it is your dentist! What you have experienced is really abusive and wrong and your dentist is the one that should be sorry and apologizing. I do know the feeling though,,, and have been shamed before by dentists that were similiar , though not the same situation, they make you feel bad or wrong and you walk out just feeling so awful.. and it sticks with you this awful feeling .. its hard to get rid of.. and they want you to think somehow that what they do is ok and normal and you are not.. but.. there are so many dentists that this is definately not the norm.

I really hope and pray you could ultimately find someone who would empathize and take time to help find a solution to make dental work bearable for you and not have to have the waterboarding feeling.. It sounds like you have been so thoughtful and creative yourself finding possible options and ideas that any dentist would love to work with you!!
 
krlovesherkids777

krlovesherkids777

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Labrown315,


"I think I just have to suffer & wait to save money to see a new dentist, it is hard to find one who accepts patients on assistance "

You know, right after I went to an extremely shaming painful dentist myself and took a break, I needed some work badly, and was on assistance myself. I happened to find a young dentist who was just starting her practice , was in her first year. She was my first very kind dentist who basically changed my world, and view of dentistry! So kind and compassionate!! I don't know how it is in Canada, but I know here in US, some of the younger ones just starting like her tend to be more apt to take patients on assistants and want the work and aren't burned out . Might be something to search for? I got great quality work with her too!!
 
L

Labrown315

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Labrown315,


"I think I just have to suffer & wait to save money to see a new dentist, it is hard to find one who accepts patients on assistance "

You know, right after I went to an extremely shaming painful dentist myself and took a break, I needed some work badly, and was on assistance myself. I happened to find a young dentist who was just starting her practice , was in her first year. She was my first very kind dentist who basically changed my world, and view of dentistry! So kind and compassionate!! I don't know how it is in Canada, but I know here in US, some of the younger ones just starting like her tend to be more apt to take patients on assistants and want the work and aren't burned out . Might be something to search for? I got great quality work with her too!!

I agree with you! I also am at the point now where I think I might like to find a female dentist, not saying that all male dentists are like him, but as a woman myself I have always felt that alot of male doctors, dentists etc can sometimes make you feel like the classic “hysterical, crazy anxious woman”ridiculous stereotype. Just from having had to deal with alotttt of different doctors my whole life with my illness, I always felt more comfortable with female doctors. My sister really likes her dentist, so I emailed their office to see if they accept Odsp recipients (thats my disability coverage)... I hope she does, then I just will have to save a few months of any extra $ I might have to pay for new patient exam ($250-300 here, so disgusting how high the cost of dental care is 😠). Because I am at the point where I honestly do not want to have him be my dentist anymore, I am already anxious enough, when he makes me feel like I am such a pain in the ass, and does not even try to be a bit compassionate about my fear, just makes me feel even more scared than I am. He has been my dentist for so many years now, I think last time I had a different one was 15 years ago, but I dont think I remember ever having the drowning feeling before.

It just really sucks to deal with. I just wish there was a way I could avoid that feeling that I get, but now I am just too traumatized that even with anxiety pills taken before hand, my brain just automatically anticipates that I am going to be deprived of air, its like a reflex thats involuntary that my body believes its in fight or flight mode. Also does not help to have bad teeth that you are embarrassed about in the first place, and that are so unhealthy you have no choice but to have to get them worked on, its been a very overwhelming summer of dealing with all of it 😔😔
 
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chemoangel

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I have the same problem as you...I hate it. What's worse is I am a Perpetual swallower...I have to swallow every few minutes and can't just "Breathe through my nose or mouth" Post nasal drip or a stuffy nose doesn't help either...my new dentist is very patient...I like him a lot. but I do get an extra dry mouth when I go to the dentist...must be the fear of sitting in that chair...going today for a "Bite Check" on my new dentures that are getting made....
 
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Labrown315

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I have the same problem as you...I hate it. What's worse is I am a Perpetual swallower...I have to swallow every few minutes and can't just "Breathe through my nose or mouth" Post nasal drip or a stuffy nose doesn't help either...my new dentist is very patient...I like him a lot. but I do get an extra dry mouth when I go to the dentist...must be the fear of sitting in that chair...going today for a "Bite Check" on my new dentures that are getting made....

Such a terrible feeling isn’t it? I am also the same as you in terms of the constant swallower. It is so crazy, when I was a kid it was only the needle I was scared of, now as a grown woman to have such anxiety & terror when I go makes me feel so pathetic. Sure helps alot to have an understanding, kind, compassionate dentist. Mine lacks all of those, and the lack of patience he has really drives me crazy. I honestly have no idea how to try to help the problem, wish there was a contraption I could wear that would be a shield to my nostrils, without completely closing off my nose. Been hell to google the issue, no one else seems to experience the same feeling as us. I am so glad for you to have a dentist who is patient, and I wish you luck and good vibes for your upcoming appointment! ❤️ Let me know if you think of a way to lessen the nose drowning/suffocation feeling! Maybe I will have to build my own nostril shield... somehow lol
 
drhirst

drhirst

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Hi Labrown315,
It is very upsetting to read how you are trapped by your circumstances and are stuck with this dentist.
Rubber dam could well be the answer, as it can form a shield for the nose without restricting breathing.
I also think that Nitrous will help too. It is a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen. The machine is set up so you are always breathing a higher concentration of oxygen than in room air. This means that even though your nose is covered, as long as you breathe through it, you will get more than sufficient oxygen and it will 100% stop the water spray going up your nose. And let's not forget it also relaxes you.
I do hope you get the chance to try one of these methods out.

Lincoln
 
letsconnect

letsconnect

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I came across something called "First Defense Nasal Screens" online, but the reviews on Amazon are mixed. Some people say they don't fit them or they can't breathe much through their nose with them, while others think they're great. Apparently they come in different sizes.

Did you hear back from your sister's dentist?
 
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Labrown315

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I came across something called "First Defense Nasal Screens" online, but the reviews on Amazon are mixed. Some people say they don't fit them or they can't breathe much through their nose with them, while others think they're great. Apparently they come in different sizes.

Did you hear back from your sister's dentist?

Wow thank you so much for looking for something for me, how incredibly kind ❤️ I am going to check that out for sure, I wish so badly I could find some way somehow to get this figured out.The anxiety and physical fear I have is so bad from this suffocating/drowning feeling is so bad, that I just ended up having a tooth extracted because I knew I could not mentally/physically handle the stress of the process of a root canal procedure. It is that bad that I had to lose a tooth just because I hate the feeling so much of dental work. I am so mad at myself for being that scared that now I have lost a tooth that I will never be able to replace, all because I just cant get it together 😔😔 I really desperately want a new dentist, because mine makes me feel so bad. I have called around town, but due to Covid, no dentists are accepting new patients on disability benefits, because they make less money from us, and need to make money again 😔 it is disheartening to know that it means Im stuck with a cold, lacking compassion, and unkind and unwilling to do anything to lessen my anxiety type dentist 😔 I sure would try anything that might help me to not experience the horrible drowning feeling. Thank you so much for searching for something for me!
 
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Labrown315

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Sep 19, 2020
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Hi Labrown315,
It is very upsetting to read how you are trapped by your circumstances and are stuck with this dentist.
Rubber dam could well be the answer, as it can form a shield for the nose without restricting breathing.
I also think that Nitrous will help too. It is a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen. The machine is set up so you are always breathing a higher concentration of oxygen than in room air. This means that even though your nose is covered, as long as you breathe through it, you will get more than sufficient oxygen and it will 100% stop the water spray going up your nose. And let's not forget it also relaxes you.
I do hope you get the chance to try one of these methods out.

Lincoln

Hi Lincoln,

Thank you for replying to my post :) I do want to once again bring up the rubber dam with the dentist. He is an asshole to be quite frank. When I mentioned that the drowning/unable to breathe feeling is at its worst when he is working on the front top teeth (since its right below my nose, and hence the water spray, tooth drill spray, air spray etc is going straight up my nose and causing me to gasp desperately for air) that I was thinking the dam might help. He said “I dont use the rubber dam on front teeth”... I am thinking... wow, Im here trying to find ways to make your job easier so you can get your work done & dont have to deal with my anxious & fearful reaction; like I am trying to find ways to make this easier for you! When it should be other way around! Seriously, I dislike him so much. I am so upset that no dentists in town are accepting new patients who are on disability. Every answer i have gotten is that because of Covid, they wont accept new patients with disability benefits (because they make less money off of me as opposed to if i had to pay out of pocket, or had dental insurance through employment. Because they dont make as much money from us, they dont want to accept me, since covid affected their income) I am trapped with him. And I just had a tooth extracted because I could not handle the 2 day root canal procedure.

I am so angry with myself that I just cant get it together, suck it up, and try to get through it. I have now lost a tooth I will never be able to afford to replace all because of this fear I have. But it is such a visceral, involuntary bodily/psychological response I have to this drowning/suffocating feeling that I dont know how I will ever get the long list of fillings I have left done. I want to try the nitrous, i do think it could help to have my nose shielded by the mask, I guess i just worry it could have opposite effect & make me feel claustrophobic. I worry too that the feeling of the mix of gas & oxygen blasting into my nostrils will throw my body into panic mode of not breathing through my nose. Ugh, what a freaking mess. It does not help that the dentist or my doctor is willing to prescribe anti-anxiety meds for these appointments. My doctor had given me 5 tabs of the lowest dose of a Valium type drug. It was not effective at such a low dose, and she refuses to do more, since there is just such rampant drug addiction. I honestly do not see any rationalization in that, to me I see this as needing it for a specific event... like if you needed something to take if you had fear of flying before taking a flight. its just so wrong. Im losing my teeth over this. Sorry to go on a long, rambling rant. I am just so upset by this, and feel so much like its my fault for just being such a big anxious mess & just not getting it together and being brave 😔😔
 
G

gerbilnut

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soo sorry to hear about your dentist and that you can't find a new dentist due to being on disability, i'm on disability and luckily have an understanding dentist (had to change due to my original dentist retiring but the new dentist at her practice is good with anxiety patients' so didn't have to go look for a new dentist) but still find it hard going due to anxiety. I am going for a cleaning on Wednesday and just trying to stay calm even though i feel abit stressed due to covid- haven't been for a year as my spring cleaning was cancelled. I would just try to think of calm things, sometimes anxiety makes it much worse when all you do is think how it could be. Usually it's not as bad as you feared and if you think it will go well, it will. I've had many fillings, root canals and crowns and extractions so been through the hard stuff but they were never as worse as i feared, so maybe just go in with new thoughts? i know it sounds hard but the more you think it will be bad, the worse you are making yourself feel. Try affirmations, listening to music and finding ways to stay calm and i bet you will feel better about it all.
 
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