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I panic when numb -- I need a root canal. Help!

_IHateTeeth_

_IHateTeeth_

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My Dentist is telling me I need a root canal and I am panicking. It's been the 1 procedure that the thought of has scared me the most, even more than my wisdom teeth removal. Even typing this out my heart is pounding and I feel panicky.

I absolutely hate being numbed. Even simple fillings can give me feelings of panic as soon as the numbness kicks in. Suddenly I can't feel my throat, my tongue feels swollen, and I feel like I can't breathe. My logic brain says I can, but my panic brain says I am dying.

I panic if I feel different or altered, so laughing gas would send me into a panic.

I just really don't know what to do. If simple fillings are bad, they use 100 times more numbing for root canals. I don't think I can do it.
 
S

sfildes

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My aunt gets this way and they narrowed it down to a reaction to the novocaine so now they give her a different med to numb her and she doesn’t have that issue anymore. So it might be a real thing and not just anxiety
 
_IHateTeeth_

_IHateTeeth_

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My aunt gets this way and they narrowed it down to a reaction to the novocaine so now they give her a different med to numb her and she doesn’t have that issue anymore. So it might be a real thing and not just anxiety

I already get the shot without the epinephrine (Adrenaline) because I've had bad reactions in the past. This is an actual anxiety due to the numb feeling, it's different.
 
GeekMonster

GeekMonster

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I hate the feeling of being numb as well. Like you said, I don't like any feeling of being "altered" or not having control of my body and my senses. I would rather endure some pain than not be able to feel my body parts.

You can ask your dentist to give you less numbing medicine than they normally would, and then you can give a signal (like lifting a hand) if you feel enough pain that you want more medicine. They may also be able to give you something that wears off more quickly, so you aren't numb for hours and hours.
 
_IHateTeeth_

_IHateTeeth_

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I hate the feeling of being numb as well. Like you said, I don't like any feeling of being "altered" or not having control of my body and my senses. I would rather endure some pain than not be able to feel my body parts.

You can ask your dentist to give you less numbing medicine than they normally would, and then you can give a signal (like lifting a hand) if you feel enough pain that you want more medicine. They may also be able to give you something that wears off more quickly, so you aren't numb for hours and hours.

I wish this could be a solution for me. Even with normal fillings I need extra shots because I still feel pain. I guess i'm pretty sensitive? Either way it sucks.
 
GeekMonster

GeekMonster

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I wish this could be a solution for me. Even with normal fillings I need extra shots because I still feel pain. I guess i'm pretty sensitive? Either way it sucks.

I had to get an extra shot when I had a filling last week. As much as I hate being numb, it was better than feeling the pain! But when I had a deep cleaning earlier this year, I asked the dentist to numb me less because having my tongue and throat numb was just unbearable. He is very flexible and easy to work with, and he did exactly what I asked. The cleaning was slightly more uncomfortable, but I didn't mind! I guess cavity filling pain is different than deep cleaning pain, though. And everyone has their own threshold of what they can tolerate.

Ask them to sedate you for the root canal, and explain your reasons for it.
 
_IHateTeeth_

_IHateTeeth_

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I had to get an extra shot when I had a filling last week. As much as I hate being numb, it was better than feeling the pain! But when I had a deep cleaning earlier this year, I asked the dentist to numb me less because having my tongue and throat numb was just unbearable. He is very flexible and easy to work with, and he did exactly what I asked. The cleaning was slightly more uncomfortable, but I didn't mind! I guess cavity filling pain is different than deep cleaning pain, though. And everyone has their own threshold of what they can tolerate.

Ask them to sedate you for the root canal, and explain your reasons for it.

Since a root canal they are drilling into my nerve I don't really want to ask for less numbing, I don't want any chance of feeling that....but I hate the feeling of being numb. There's no winning. I've thought of sedation for this, but it's sooooo expensive. I so wish I could just get over it.
 
GeekMonster

GeekMonster

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Since a root canal they are drilling into my nerve I don't really want to ask for less numbing, I don't want any chance of feeling that....but I hate the feeling of being numb. There's no winning. I've thought of sedation for this, but it's sooooo expensive. I so wish I could just get over it.

I'm sorry if your dental or health insurance won't help with that :( It seems more and more difficult to find decent coverage for anything dental or oral anymore.

Maybe ask your PCP for a mild anxiety med to take before you go in? I know it's not ideal but it could help you feel far more relaxed for those few hours.
 
Enarete

Enarete

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Hi _IHateTeeth_,

sorry to read what you are going throung. There is a sense of hopelessness in your post, it almost sounds like there is no way out. However, I am sure there are possibilities, particularly if you managed to cope with a filling in the past... and even with a wisdom tooth removal.

My first suggestion would be that you talk with your dentist about this. Having accurate information is very helpful; for example, the feeling of numbness is not "deeper" or "more" just because it is the root canal. If you manage to cope with a filling (and even request extra shots), then the numbness during a root canal will be the same level. By the way, did you know that we are programmed to panic when we feel numbness in our mouth? My dentist shared this with me. Because the only natural reason to get numb sensation in the mouth would be if you ate a poisoned plant and having this sensation would mean a threat to your life because if your mouth swells, then you may not be able to breathe, right? The good thing is that during a dental visit, nothing is swelled, it just feels that way. So another thing you could do is to ask for a mirror to actually see that nothing is swelled instead of being left alone with the scary sensations.

I don't know how about you, but for me being in the surgery, and in the chair during a treatment doesn't make the anxiety better so maybe taking a break, sitting up for a moment or even (depending on how you feel) get out of the chair after the numbing is set may be a good idea so that you can settle a bit and get used to the sensation before the actual treatment starts.

If your dentist would be willing to do that and if you would be willing to try that out, scheduling one appointment just to be numbed up may be a good idea too. Again, this may help you get used to the feeling without having the additional stress from the root canal. You just go in, get the shot and go out. I got numbed voluntarily without a treatment twice to get used to it back then as I was going through the same fears you are. The first visit was unbearable and made my readiness to try it out second time pretty low, but I did it and surprisingly the sensation wasn't threatenning at all. Third time was an actual treatment and it was an emergency so I was glad I did it.

I see how sedation would be too expensive. Would it be an idea to ask about some medication that may calm you down - oral sedation? Or would that trigger your fear of feeling off too? Also, what was it that helped you to get through the fillings?

All the best wishes
 
letsconnect

letsconnect

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Hi, I just wanted to say that we've got a page on this topic here, in case there's anything on there that might be useful:

 
GeekMonster

GeekMonster

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When I was being numbed for my deep cleaning and started to panic, the hygienist took notice and asked me if I wanted to sit the chair up for a few minutes. That helped! Being laid flat and staring at a ceiling is hardly the most relaxing position to be in when you're already nervous. Definitely ask if you can sit up or walk around a bit while waiting for the procedure to start.
 
_IHateTeeth_

_IHateTeeth_

Junior member
Joined
Sep 18, 2019
Messages
15
Location
The Moon
Hi _IHateTeeth_,

sorry to read what you are going throung. There is a sense of hopelessness in your post, it almost sounds like there is no way out. However, I am sure there are possibilities, particularly if you managed to cope with a filling in the past... and even with a wisdom tooth removal.

My first suggestion would be that you talk with your dentist about this. Having accurate information is very helpful; for example, the feeling of numbness is not "deeper" or "more" just because it is the root canal. If you manage to cope with a filling (and even request extra shots), then the numbness during a root canal will be the same level. By the way, did you know that we are programmed to panic when we feel numbness in our mouth? My dentist shared this with me. Because the only natural reason to get numb sensation in the mouth would be if you ate a poisoned plant and having this sensation would mean a threat to your life because if your mouth swells, then you may not be able to breathe, right? The good thing is that during a dental visit, nothing is swelled, it just feels that way. So another thing you could do is to ask for a mirror to actually see that nothing is swelled instead of being left alone with the scary sensations.

I don't know how about you, but for me being in the surgery, and in the chair during a treatment doesn't make the anxiety better so maybe taking a break, sitting up for a moment or even (depending on how you feel) get out of the chair after the numbing is set may be a good idea so that you can settle a bit and get used to the sensation before the actual treatment starts.

If your dentist would be willing to do that and if you would be willing to try that out, scheduling one appointment just to be numbed up may be a good idea too. Again, this may help you get used to the feeling without having the additional stress from the root canal. You just go in, get the shot and go out. I got numbed voluntarily without a treatment twice to get used to it back then as I was going through the same fears you are. The first visit was unbearable and made my readiness to try it out second time pretty low, but I did it and surprisingly the sensation wasn't threatenning at all. Third time was an actual treatment and it was an emergency so I was glad I did it.

I see how sedation would be too expensive. Would it be an idea to ask about some medication that may calm you down - oral sedation? Or would that trigger your fear of feeling off too? Also, what was it that helped you to get through the fillings?

All the best wishes

Thank you for the detailed reply. I was able to get through my wisdom teeth surgery because I was sedated for that, that's how I know how expensive it is! Lol. As for the numbness, they even warned me that it would be more than with a simple filling, and my friends/family warned me it would be more. For instance they said it could reach up to my nose or even my eyes (I had friends who suddenly couldn't blink). It's also more shots in general. They'd give me a nerve block of course but they also said they'd need to numb around the top (even though the tooth is on the bottom).
 
_IHateTeeth_

_IHateTeeth_

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Messages
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When I was being numbed for my deep cleaning and started to panic, the hygienist took notice and asked me if I wanted to sit the chair up for a few minutes. That helped! Being laid flat and staring at a ceiling is hardly the most relaxing position to be in when you're already nervous. Definitely ask if you can sit up or walk around a bit while waiting for the procedure to start.

Yes I might have to do this, because I know I will panic. It's always that first rush when I first feel things going numb, then I eventually start to "Relax". It's such a horrible feeling. Even when I EXPECT it each time it startles me.
 
_IHateTeeth_

_IHateTeeth_

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I think I am going to try to desensitize myself to it by using a lot of Orajel. Is it okay if I purposely swallow a little? I really want to get over this and I know this will trigger panic for me.
 
M

MountainMama

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I hate being numb as well. I have had to have numerous oral surgeries over the past two years and I have gotten better with it. I had my first root canal two years ago. I did end up getting nitrous oxide. I was very worried about it, because I also have that panic over not being in control and feeling “funny”. I don’t even take Benadryl or cold medicine unless I absolutely can’t breathe from clogged sinuses. I would rather suffer a bit than have that loopy feeling.
I was surprised at how the nitrous affected me. I did not panic, except for one time when I apparently was holding my breath or something and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Then I took a deep breath through my mouth and the nitrous cleared and I could focus again. The best part about nitrous is that you CAN control it. If you breathe through your mouth the oxygen clears the “haze” and you feel normal again. Then you can breathe through your nose again to feel the nitrous. That helped me a lot.
 
_IHateTeeth_

_IHateTeeth_

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I hate being numb as well. I have had to have numerous oral surgeries over the past two years and I have gotten better with it. I had my first root canal two years ago. I did end up getting nitrous oxide. I was very worried about it, because I also have that panic over not being in control and feeling “funny”. I don’t even take Benadryl or cold medicine unless I absolutely can’t breathe from clogged sinuses. I would rather suffer a bit than have that loopy feeling.
I was surprised at how the nitrous affected me. I did not panic, except for one time when I apparently was holding my breath or something and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Then I took a deep breath through my mouth and the nitrous cleared and I could focus again. The best part about nitrous is that you CAN control it. If you breathe through your mouth the oxygen clears the “haze” and you feel normal again. Then you can breathe through your nose again to feel the nitrous. That helped me a lot.

I've wondered how I would react to laughing gas. I also do not like feeling funny or altered either. As soon as I start feeling different and "out of control" I panic. Hence why I've never drank or did drugs in my life. The idea of being numb and feeling like I can't breathe and then coupled with feeling weird from laughing gas worries me. Maybe one day I will try it. One of the things I hate with numbing is that you can't escape it.......once they shoot you up with it it'll last hours. Sure Oraverse exists (except not at MY dentist), but it's not instant and you'll still feel numb for a while.
 
M

MountainMama

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I've wondered how I would react to laughing gas. I also do not like feeling funny or altered either. As soon as I start feeling different and "out of control" I panic. Hence why I've never drank or did drugs in my life. The idea of being numb and feeling like I can't breathe and then coupled with feeling weird from laughing gas worries me. Maybe one day I will try it. One of the things I hate with numbing is that you can't escape it.......once they shoot you up with it it'll last hours. Sure Oraverse exists (except not at MY dentist), but it's not instant and you'll still feel numb for a while.
I have also never done drugs or drank. I am the same way. You could call and ask if they would let you try a little of the nitrous before the appointment to see if you can handle it. It makes you forget you are numb. I didn’t even think about being numb until after the nitrous wore off. The best part about the nitrous is that it wears off immediately after you stop breathing it. It is out of your system in five minutes.
 
_IHateTeeth_

_IHateTeeth_

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I have also never done drugs or drank. I am the same way. You could call and ask if they would let you try a little of the nitrous before the appointment to see if you can handle it. It makes you forget you are numb. I didn’t even think about being numb until after the nitrous wore off. The best part about the nitrous is that it wears off immediately after you stop breathing it. It is out of your system in five minutes.


What was your experience with it? How did you feel on it?
 
M

MountainMama

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What was your experience with it? How did you feel on it?
At first it made me feel sleepy...but also a little dizzy. The best thing I can compare it to is that feeling you get right before you fall asleep, or when you first wake up. You are aware of what is going on but sleepy and relaxed. If I didn’t want to focus on anything I would close my eyes and it was almost like having a really light nap. You can hear people talking and can respond but can tune out as well.
 

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