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Root canal tomorrow, terrified of protective dam

I

implants14273

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Nov 16, 2016
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21
So this isn't my first root canal. I've had 4, but all of them have been right in the front of my mouth hence having the dam only covering my front teeth/front portion of my mouth. Tomorrow I have to get a root canal on my premolar and I'm terrified of having the dam and x-rays so far back in my mouth. I'm very gag-phobic (stems from a general fear of throwing up) and I get in my head about it despite the fact that my actual physiological gag reflex isn't too bad. I could care less about the actual procedure, you could stick me with 1000 novacaine needles and drill to China and I wouldn't care, but it's just the thought of that dam so far back as well as x-rays that far back that's making me shudder. I hate having my mouth covered and I remember even with my easier front root canals that I hated that restricting sensation of having my mouth totally blocked.

Any words of wisdom or encouragement would be much appreciated! :(
 
Enarete

Enarete

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Dear Implants14273,

sorry to read about your worries and I really hope it won't be as bad as you are anticipating. Thinking of where premolars are placed, it seems to me that it is not too far back. I am not sure how sensitive your gag reflex is, but for the most people with sensitive gag reflex having a premolar touched shouldn't physically trigger gagging. May I encourage you (if you haven't already) to explore the area with your tongue to see that it actually isn't as far back as it might seem?

A general advice is to talk to your dentist about this and make sure s/he looks after you well. I can only encourage you to set up two stop signals - a usual one (as a hand raise) to let them know they should stop and a second one (such as pointing at the dam) for "get the dam off NOW". Getting the dam off shouldn't take more than few seconds. In this way, should you feel uncomfortable at any stage, you can be sure they give you space and a break immediatelly. The same applies for x-rays - let them know beforehand so they can treat you carefully and will be ready to interrupt the procedure whenever you use the signal. A chat with your dentist might reveal that they are used to work with people who have sensitive gag reflex or simply have a difficulty coping with having an x-ray sensor in their mouth. Your dental team will most likely know some tricks to help you manage it.

Fears before procedures are usually much, much worse than they really are during the procedure. Remember that you will be in a company and your dentist and your nurse will most likely do their best to put you at ease and distract you and also will keep watching you and make sure you feel ok.

All the best wishes and fingers crossed for your treatment tomorrow. Do let us know how it went!
 
Last edited:
kitkat

kitkat

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HI Implants14273,
The only experience that I have had with the dental dam was on my first top molar for a root canal. It covered all of my mouth but I was surprised at how little it actually bothered me. I always felt able to breathe and it did not trigger my gag reflex at all. I actually kind of liked having the dam there because it kept things from dropping into my mouth and I didn’t have to worry about choking on anything. I found that even with the dam on, I could comfortably swallow. Initially, breathing through my nose seemed to help as I was a little claustrophobic at first but I quickly adjusted to it. Distraction also helped me a ton. I watched a movie on virtual glasses. I also find listening to my choice of music on my own earbuds helps.
 
I

implants14273

Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2016
Messages
21
Dear Implants14273,

sorry to read about your worries and I really hope it won't be as bad as you are anticipating. Thinking of where premolars are placed, it seems to me that it is not too far back. I am not sure how sensitive your gag reflex is, but for the most people with sensitive gag reflex having a premolar touched shouldn't physically trigger gagging. May I encourage you (if you haven't already) to explore the area with your tongue to see that it actually isn't as far back as it might seem?

A general advice is to talk to your dentist about this and make sure s/he looks after you well. I can only encourage you to set up two stop signals - a usual one (as a hand raise) to let them know they should stop and a second one (such as pointing at the dam) for "get the damn dam off NOW". Getting the dam off shouldn't take more than few seconds. In this way, should you feel uncomfortable at any stage, you can be sure they give you space and a break immediatelly. The same applies for x-rays - let them know beforehand so they can treat you carefully and will be ready to interrupt the procedure whenever you use the signal. A chat with your dentist might reveal that they are used to work with people who have sensitive gag reflex or simply have a difficulty coping with having an x-ray sensor in their mouth. Your dental team will most likely know some tricks to help you manage it.

Fears before procedures are usually much, much worse than they really are during the procedure. Remember that you will be in a company and your dentist and your nurse will most likely do their best to put you at ease and distract you and also will keep watching you and make sure you feel ok.

All the best wishes and fingers crossed for your treatment tomorrow. Do let us know how it went!
Thank you so much! I'm definitely going to let my endo know about my fear as this is my first time seeing him but I've heard that he's GREAT, especially with anxious patients. I'll update on how it goes! :)
 
I

implants14273

Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2016
Messages
21
HI Implants14273,
The only experience that I have had with the dental dam was on my first top molar for a root canal. It covered all of my mouth but I was surprised at how little it actually bothered me. I always felt able to breathe and it did not trigger my gag reflex at all. I actually kind of liked having the dam there because it kept things from dropping into my mouth and I didn’t have to worry about choking on anything. I found that even with the dam on, I could comfortably swallow. Initially, breathing through my nose seemed to help as I was a little claustrophobic at first but I quickly adjusted to it. Distraction also helped me a ton. I watched a movie on virtual glasses. I also find listening to my choice of music on my own earbuds helps.
Thank you so much! That's really reassuring to hear. I'm definitely going to bring along my earbuds, it's definitely a good distraction!
 
krlovesherkids777

krlovesherkids777

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Hi Implants14273,

Hope all goes well for you with this. Just want to say I have such a huge gag reflux and am very panicky on back teeth especially. I recently had a root canal on premolar with a dental dam. I actually feel more at ease with these knowing nothing can drop and somehow it doens't seem too restricting the way my dentist does it , I can still breath and he makes sure I get breaks.. so really hope it goes well for you. Let us know.
 
I

implants14273

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Joined
Nov 16, 2016
Messages
21
Just an update: the root canal was quick and easy! I went to a new endo and both him and his assistant could not have been nicer. The dam definitely wasn't comfortable, but it was bearable! I didn't have to take any breaks but he was constantly asking if I wanted them. The whole procedure was over and done with in what felt like 15 minutes (but was probably 30 or so). I'm definitely sore now but I took some Advil and hope that kicks in. Thanks again for everyone's reassuring words!
 
krlovesherkids777

krlovesherkids777

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So glad to hear that Implants!! Glad it went good and seemed quick for you!! HOpe your recovery goes speedy and well! :grouphug:
 
kitkat

kitkat

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That’s awesome! I’m so happy to hear that it wasn’t nearly as bad as you thought it might be! Unfortunately our minds like to create the worst possible scenarios in our heads!
 
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