I am 30 years old and have never visited a dentist. My parents never believed in sending me to the dentists as when my older brother went they said he needed very expensive treatment when he didn't - this led my parents to believe that all dentists were 'thieves' and therefore I never ever went.
When I was in my early twenties the first tooth fell out - since then I've experienced severe dental pain intermittently and it's got to the stage where I can't cope any more. I basically have no back teeth anymore and I haven't smiled properly in years. I cover my mouth when I laugh because I'm so ashamed, eat soft foods and constantly obsess over the state of my teeth. I've kept this a secret from my husband and when the pain is really bad I sneak away to take painkillers like ibuprofen and paracetamol/codeine.
I don't think my fear is so much of the treatment, it's the shame of letting someone see how bad it is, and I'm terrified that I'll need dentures - as parts of my gum where teeth used to be have closed over I'm not sure it will be possible to get implants. Also there's the cost implication - I don't earn a lot yet I'm not eligible for NHS treatment, yet my husband has recently got dental insurance from his workplace which covers me so I'm hoping I can use that and only pay 20% of the cost.
I really need help - I'm tired of the pain and the embarrassment, I'm tired of waking up in the night because the pain is so bad, I'm tired of not being able to eat crunchy food - I haven't been able to eat an apple for about 8 years!
Is there any hope for me?