Tips on How to Stop the PAIN at the Dentist: A CRPS Life Hack
Posted on March 8, 2019
**Full Transcript from video below this short list of things you will learn about

1. Before you go to the dentist
      a. Schedule an appointment with breaks and discuss your medical condition before you go
      b. Self- medicate
      c. Wear a hooded sweatshirt
      d. Wear Sunglasses
      e. Headphones

2. At the appointment
     a. Talk to your hygienist about your condition and prioritize tasks
     b. Ask them to avoid touching as much as possible
     c. Warm Blanket
     d. Lead Apron
     e. Breathing Techniques
     f. Bite Plate
     g. Sit up and tuck chin
     h. Warm water on tongue

3. and/or PAIN Help Program

**transcript from a video starts now

Kristi: Hello everyone my name is Kristi Oen and I am a CRPS conqueror and the founder of PAIN help which stands for Pay Attention I Need Help. Today we are focusing on one of the things that sometimes throws people into extreme amounts of pain and panic - going to the dentist.

My hygienist Kylen and I are going to go through and share some tips and tricks that we used to help me when I was in pain. The great news is also that you don't have to stay in pain.

Kylen you have known me for 4 years now, what would you say it was like four years ago vs now.

Kylen: You’ve always been a light person and happy but going from seeing someone in such excruciating pain to someone who is almost this whole new person, where things do not hurt it is just amazing. Little things people would normally never think twice about like swishing with cold water that wouldn’t bother somebody but for you previously it was so much pain. To now see that progression and change is pretty amazing.

Kristi: We were here really today doing a cleaning. And it’s crazy today how she would do something like spray the water…

Kylen: just to see…

Kristi: And I was like holy cow, that didn’t hurt.

You don’t have to stay in pain. The way I got there was through my PAIN Help program, which is a Mind, Body, Soul, transformation program that includes the awesome medical device.

We are going to share the tips and tricks but also know you don’t have to just do the tips and tricks – you can keep getting better and better and get through this.

Kylen: It was all about trial and error, we didn’t really know what would work or help and what worked for her might not work for you.

Kristi: We tried so many different things that there has to be something that can help you.

Kylen: At least a little bit.

Kristi: We are going to start with what you can do before you come to the dentist – you can self-medicate – I am not a fan of that because of the toxins, but that is an option.

For me being touched with my CRPS was really painful so wearing a sweatshirt always helped because it gave me a barrier layer in case she touched me. Also I was pretty cold all the time, my thyroid wasn’t quite working so the hooded sweatshirt helped keep me warm.

I’m not sure about you guys but there is something about a hood being on your head that is almost calming.

Kylen: It’s comforting.

Kristi: Yes, it’s comforting to have that. The other thing we did in the beginning that I would recommend is wearing sunglasses. I was really light sensitive and it helped calm me down a little bit.

You know what is really funny is a lot of the things we are saying is almost like you are trying to hide.

Kylen: That’s 100% what it is. I think wearing the sunglasses gave you protection in knowing that I couldn’t see you wince when you were in so much pain.

Kristi: Yes…

Kylen: Which really from a clinician standpoint, it isn’t always a good thing because being upfront and saying, Hey I am so touch sensitive, even being touched like this…(Kylen touches Kristi’s arm)
Kristi: Oh my goodness you are touching me (both laughing)
Kylen: I know, I can do it and it doesn’t bother her, we can give hugs all the time now. Before it was all about hiding it and not knowing. Your clinician wants to be helpful to you so it is good to be open and say that.

Kristi: That’s really something you have to own. And it’s something I didn’t until it was so bad and so obvious and so painful that I had to say something. Most of the time I would let people touch me and just live through it. So one of the things to say to them is listen please don’t touch me without asking my permission or be careful because this is what it feels like. 

Even though Kylen knew I was in pain, she didn’t really understand when she touched me it felt like a thousand needles going through my whole body.

Kylen: Right

Kristi: To say that to someone, they are kinds like “what?”

Kylen: Touch is so important for relationships but when you don’t know and someone doesn’t explain it then it’s hard to help.

Kristi: Maybe share this video with your dentist and hygienist. Absolutely use it for you to get more tips.

The other thing I did was wear headphones in the beginning, you get to have some music or something a little bit to distract, relax and even use one of my meditations.

It was funny today when we did the bite wings. Usually she tries to run out there so fast and run back in because it just feels like it is driving knives through my mouth but it wasn’t really feeling like that today. And she said, you aren’t even doing your breathing.

It’s something I didn’t even realize that I was doing but it makes a lot of sense. I would focus and say to myself, I know this is coming and take a deep breath.
So do some breathing. Learn how to take some deep breaths in and out. Often I close my eyes and I would think of being somewhere else, I love to think of being on an island. Being somewhere else and thinking that this isn’t happening to you, it is a little bit of disassociation but helpful.  Doing a little bit of breathing and almost meditating will help you get through that.

The other thing I would definitely say is to plan ahead time wise. We broke it up, I would bring my husband and my son and we would break up the appointment.
Kylen: That’s a big thing that when you are calling to schedule an appointment you can say, I’m going to be a patient that might need a little bit more time is there any way that you can schedule me in 20 or 30 minute increments and have a patient in-between. Then it is so much easier, we could stop what we were doing and go clean your son’s/husband’s teeth and then come back to you when you had more of a break and time.

Kristi: And that’s been amazing. I know I did it with another dentist once before where it was just me and we would just take shorter breaks. For me sometimes I needed longer breaks, at that point I was so bad with my TMJ and the pain and everything it was almost like a recouping period.

I loved some of the ideas you first came up when I first showed up; I know we tried everything under the sun. One of the great things she did was when I got here a warm blanket was always waiting for me.

Once again I was freezing but it is also a comforting thing – you want to be more calm and relaxed because the more nervous you are the more things actually do hurt.

Kylen: I would put the blanket in the dryer when I knew she was coming and then put it around her and that would be something that would help. Something else we would do was keep the lead apron on her. Obviously the patient napkin would be over the lead apron. That pressure without being touched was enough to help keep her more calm.

Kristi: It was a nice little anti-anxiety thing, just made me more calm and helped. Today we didn’t use either.

Kylen: Yep, it was amazing. I was like what happened?

Kristi: I know you were like what is going on? It’s so awesome.

Kylen: It’s crazy.

Kristi: I have had TMJ for a long time and I’ve been to TMJ dentists, which reminds I should tell him in Illinois that you use this thing because it is a game changer for getting your teeth cleaned. Why don’t you explain to them what it is, I think you have one to show.

Kylen: Yes, I do. I have one it is actually dirty because we used it with Kristi today.

Kristi: Like I said, we really did a teeth cleaning today

Kylen: This is a bite block and all dentists know what that is. This is actually a child size bite block; because she has such extensive TMJ issues the adult one is too uncomfortable for her. We put this in there and she can take it out periodically whenever she needs a break but what that does is your jaw just rests on it so you aren’t having to force your mouth open that whole time, you get to just rest. I clean half of the mouth at a time and then take it out periodically and give her a chance to talk to me because most of this is social.
Kristi: We get to have our little social time
Kylen: Exactly
Kristi: I will tell you that it is absolutely amazing, anyone with TMJ you have to ask about it and have to really utilize it because it does just give that little extra edge to work with.
The other thing with the TMJ and the fatigue and the pain that we did, was position me differently.
Kylen: Some of that comes into play with leaning completely back. That position was too uncomfortable so what we did was keep her partly propped up, kinda like this and I stood to clean her teeth because that was less irritating for her.
Kylen: What happened was she didn’t realize but she pushed her chin up which would protrude everything out and upward versus when she kept it down her jaw was at a lot less strain.
Kristi: We noticed a lot less headaches, the pain would go down. Tucking that chin in and bringing it down helped.

Kylen: If you are a hygienist then you know you don’t want to tell all your patients to do that because it is difficult to work that way. But for her, it helped so much that it was totally worth it.

Kristi: That is something that you have to find, you have to find a hygienist that is going to work with you otherwise I know people that totally just don’t go to the dentist. So interview them, find them.

Kylen: There are people out there; there are so many great clinicians. We are here because we want to help you; we want to make things easier for you.

Kristi: I also have (had) really sensitive teeth. They have been super sensitive since I was little (my accident happened when I was 10) so I was pretty impressed at how well that felt today.

To help with tooth sensitivity Kylen would put the water on my tongue and let me swish it, avoiding cold water if possible.

Kylen: I never, never put water actually directly on her teeth.

Kristi: (Laughing) except for today

Kylen: except for today (laughing)

Kristi: We wanted to try it, she said let’s just see how that goes. It was funny because one time you said that just touched your tooth and I was like what? I didn’t even know.

Kylen: She didn’t notice it.

Kristi: I didn’t notice it. That was crazy and kinda fun.

It’s also important for the hygienist to do really light touches and not deep aggressive cleanings.

Today you spent a lot of time getting in there because for 4 years we haven’t really gotten deep down and dirty.

The other thing we were going to talk about was prioritizing treatment.

Kylen: Yep, we would focus the things that are going to be most important and most urgent for her at the time. Obviously anywhere that is giving her pain is first but then we try to do as much as possible. Sometimes we just didn’t polish because it is really not as important or needed as much as an actual cleaning and breaking up that biofilm, although polishing does that somewhat. 

We also always wanted to make sure to check her gums and make sure she doesn’t have gum disease. But there were days when we just couldn’t periochart and check for that. A lot of the time when cleaning you can tell the areas you need to check and look for things like bleeding.  If needed we broke things up over appointments throughout the year.

Kristi: The periocharting that’s the thing – anyone with CRPS if you have it full body or in your mouth or something you will get this – because when they take that little…

Kylen: It’s a probe…

Kristi: I call it a knife.

Kylen: NO! (both laughing)
Kristi: That’s what it felt like to me, it’s excruciating. It felt like a thousand needles being driven through my whole body and that’s kinda the thing with CRPS it goes through your whole body. 

I’ve been doing my own program and been on the medical device for a year now, so 6 months ago when we did the cleaning last time it was interesting because she went to do it and instead of feeling the knives go through my body I actually just felt like something was stabbing me like a little bit of pressure or something and I started crying and she’s like are you ok, are you ok and I was crying because I was so happy because it didn’t feel the same and then today when she did it, I honestly almost didn’t feel it at all. I didn’t even notice she was doing it.  She said, Kristi that’s what it feels like for other people. That’s been my whole life, I don’t remember before age 10 but that’s when I had my accident and started my CRPS and everything from there has just been crazy out of control.

Kylen: We didn’t floss a lot of the time after a cleaning, most hygentists like to do that – sometimes flossed a couple places to check for open contact or something. That saves time and she can have time with her jaw to recoup and floss after.

Kristi: The other thing with CRPS is to have someone else in your mouth and touching your cheeks etc and pushing it can be really awful. So if it’s something that is not absolutely critical to the appointment that you can do later, then do it later.

Kylen: I thought of one more thing, when I first started I tried not to do extra oral fulcrums which basically means when I’m in your mouth I was trying not to touch the cheeks and focused on touching the teeth.

Kristi: Wow that’s amazing.

We really hope that you have learned something that you can try. We want you to know that it doesn’t have to be a horrible experience, you don’t have to medicate yourself, you can go through and do this, use some of these tips and tricks and then definitely go and check out my website and the awesome medical device and the things we are doing so you don’t have to worry about it.

Kylen: Then you can be as amazing as her…Yeah!
Kristi: Yeah! Thank you so much Kylen

Kylen: Thank you, bye

Kristi: Bye guys!
A very special thank you to Kylen who is one of the best people I have ever known in my life.  She never made me feel stupid, crazy or weird and has been so supportive through this whole process.  Truly an angel in this world.  

Thank you from the bottom of my heart Kylen, you have no idea how precious it is to have someone help and support you without judgement the way you have.  
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