The Most Inhumane Contraption Invented: The Dental Rubber Dam

Ryuzaki

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Long story short I had two teeth start becoming cold sensitive. One needs a root canal so my general dentist sent me to a specialist, an endodontist who can handle back molar root canals.

I've been to the dentist as much as anyone. Had a root canal, crown, many fillings. Never a problem.

This dude lays me back in the chair and numbs me up and everything is going fine, the TV is playing, I'm like "let's do this". And then he straps one of these things on my face:



It completely blocked all air flow in my mouth and was covering my nostrils (not flapped down like in this picture) and was even covering one of my eyes.

I told him "we gotta take this off" and I sat up. I've had them worse so I didn't really realize it but that sent me into a panic attack. I can't stand the suffocation feeling, blocking my air ways and not letting me close my mouth for an hour, having to swallow saliva with my mouth wide open.

It's never been a problem before at the dentist, but this "dental dam" thing was outrageous. I've been reading about it and apparently I've just never had a dentist that uses one, but it's pretty standard practice.

I feel like this is the most inhumane thing I've ever seen. It simply doesn't take into account the patient's comfort or anything.

I asked him to do it without it and he said he wouldn't do it, but could offer me valium in pills or through a friggin IV with fentanyl and all kinds of other crap mixed in to do "conscious sedation" where I'd be awake and aware but it would induce amnesia!?!? He couldn't just flat out put me to sleep, which only oral surgeons can do for like wisdom teeth extractions, etc.

So here I am with this infected tooth that needs a root canal (a filling had fallen out), and my choices are to have that thing strapped to my face for over an hour while drugged to the high heavens, or just have someone extract the tooth altogether.

What a world. I have no clue what I'm going to do. I think all endodontists are going to use this thing and offer me drugs, which I want nothing more than to avoid.

Alternate question: have any of you ever taken Valium? I haven't, but he gave me a prescription for 5 mg pills, wants me to take one the night before and then one an hour before my appointment. I had some bad psychedelic trips in college and just really fear giving up control to a drug again and having to ride it out 8 hours or more until it wears off it if goes bad.
 
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Man, I would personally try to find a different endodontist ASAP. Them shits shouldn't be blocking your nostrils and if the endodontists first response to your reaction was to juice you up with potentially massively addictive prescription drugs that raises big red flags..
 

Ryuzaki

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@harrytwatter, I agree. That was my first reaction and that of everyone I've talked to about this. The conundrum is that I've searched online anyways and this stupid device is the "standard of care" and people are actually getting sued for medical malpractice for not using it, so all endodontists are using it for root canals and many prefer it for even basic crap.

And the second "standard" is that the valium or IV-based "conscious sedation" are the two options, both in combination with nitrous oxide. They basically aren't trained to do full sedation (put you to sleep), so they just get you crazy high on tons of stuff. It sounds insane and not what dentistry was like for me even 10 years ago.
 

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Valium is no big thing, goes well with a hangover. Although, like @harrytwatter says, you wouldn't really want a careless dentist potentially stopping you breathing with what looks like a dental condom whilst slightly sedated.
 

bernard

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I've had a lot of dental work done, and I mean A LOT, by cheap thai dentists, czech tourist dentists and everything in between, and I've never had such an experience. You need to nope the fuck out from that.
 
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Yeah I'm very pro drug in the right context. Media has negatively distorted a lot of really potentially useful compounds. Hamilton Morris has an excellent series published on Vice where he breaks down origins, cultural applications, misconceptions and controversy within pharmacology.

In this particular situation my concern is more in this dentists thought process and logic skills (or lack thereof) than the particular drug being prescribed.

It does seem these contraptions are the norm, BUT, it also seems that care must be used to not block the nose. Instead of re-assessing the size of the dam or the particular placement in relation to the patients nostrils and instead jump to a fucking IV cocktail is disconcerting.

On the other hand, maybe this person is actually the norm. Perhaps most people would rather just jump at the opportunity for some reality-numbing prescriptions instead of using cognition and problem solving analysis to actively question and confront the "professional" treating them?
 

bernard

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As an example of how dentistry can be, I just had a dental implant put in, and it had a similar kind of uncomfortable setting, but I made them aware and of course they fixed it and I was out after 20 minutes and just local anasthesia.

What really surprised me was the lack of pain afterwards. Tylenol was more than enough, which is surprising it was basically surgery.

There's a HUGE difference in skill and ethical mindset in the dentist professon. In my experience, it is a money grabbing profession bar none and most dentists are salespeople trying to rush the actual craftmanship and on to the next mark.
 

Ryuzaki

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I trust dentists about as much as I trust auto mechanics. They can always find another filling that should be preventively treated, etc.

An update on this conundrum is I called my original general dentist and told them what happened. I asked them if they could finish their part without a dental dam. They assured me that not only could they, but they had no intention in using one.

But I do need to be referred to an endodontist and they WILL want to use a "rubber dam." So I told them flat out, you gotta find me someone that can do it without one and bend the rules, or they'll have to find me someone willing to put me all the way to sleep (rather than extremely high like the guy in that pic, he doesn't even know what universe he's in). They said they could and would.

So I'm a bit relieved for now. I can sit there all day with hands, drills, and needles in my mouth. But as soon as you block BOTH of my airways I'm going to have a mini-freak out. I don't think it's irrational to not enjoy suffocation, since the consequence of that is typically death.
 
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Yeah, I had this procedure done once. The same approach. Basically what they're doing (as I was explained and can recall), is that they use that rubber to block any saliva from getting intro that region which is operated on. If saliva gets into that area - it is a botched surgery. They also tend to use heat at the end to get rid of some contamination but as I understand, that piece of rubber is quite important.

It also gave me that uneasy feeling, but my nostrils weren't blocked. They quite easily found three root canals and filled them. But they had to use a 3D x-ray machine that was rotated around my head to find the forth root canal. Otherwise they would risk removing too much tooth material and the tooth would be lost.

It was successful (I haven't had any issues so far). But that surgery made me rethink my dental habits. I bought an electrical brush instead or regular one, started doing flossing more regularly and probably the most important thing - visited dental hygienist.

At that point I didn't know how important the hygienist part was in avoiding tooth cavities. I was once lightly recommended one by a dentist but I didn't think much of it's usefulness. I though that I had "bad genes" that caused all those dental issues. But no - after an year the hygienist complimented me on my dental health and I had no sign of cavities, gums were again healthy.
 

bernard

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Flossing is the most important in avoiding the kind of cavities between teeth that become root canals.
 

Ryuzaki

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I just got out of bed from a dream I thought was peculiar.

I was at some extremely wealthy guy's house as a visitor. Then we got the news of a huge emergency so we started preparing by going to the top of this mountain. The emergency was the most giant tsunami wave ever, growing larger and approaching us. As a last minute preparation, I sought out suspenders to put on my pants to keep the water out of them. They had a neat design that functioned like a belt, like a clamp around my waist.

That's when I woke up and realized:
  • Wealthy guy = the dentist
  • Top of the mountain = the tooth
  • Tsunami wave = saliva build up
  • Suspenders clamp = rubber dam
  • My dry legs = dry roots of the tooth
The mind is an incredible thing. I go back in tomorrow for a non-rubber dam session but obviously that thing really bothered me and now I'm dreaming about it. It was a very interesting and adventurous dream though. 10/10 would dream again.
 
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I just got out of bed from a dream I thought was peculiar.

I was at some extremely wealthy guy's house as a visitor. Then we got the news of a huge emergency so we started preparing by going to the top of this mountain. The emergency was the most giant tsunami wave ever, growing larger and approaching us. As a last minute preparation, I sought out suspenders to put on my pants to keep the water out of them. They had a neat design that functioned like a belt, like a clamp around my waist.

That's when I woke up and realized:
  • Wealthy guy = the dentist
  • Top of the mountain = the tooth
  • Tsunami wave = saliva build up
  • Suspenders clamp = rubber dam
  • My dry legs = dry roots of the tooth
The mind is an incredible thing. I go back in tomorrow for a non-rubber dam session but obviously that thing really bothered me and now I'm dreaming about it. It was a very interesting and adventurous dream though. 10/10 would dream again.
Nice dream analysis. How did it go at the dentist ?