Have you ever been caught off-guard by a dental procedure? How did you cope? Share your experiences here.
Have you ever been caught off-guard by a dental procedure? How did you cope? Share your experiences here.
I'll start. I actually read another post on the forum that got me thinking about this topic. Impromptu dental treatment has occurred in my case on at least 2 separate occasions that I can recall. Same dentist both times (my current one).
First time, I was in high school and my phobia was at it's highest point. I talked my way out of one appointment for fillings already (faking sick) and my mother decided to reschedule and not tell me where we were going until it was time to leave the house. She claims she "forgot" to tell me! Naturally, blind panic ensued and the fact this dentist was new and unfamiliar to me only made things much worse! However, being embarrassed about my fear and insistent on hiding it, I accepted my fate and decided to try to put on a brave face. I found out I'm very bad at brave faces though and between shaking incessantly and looking like I had just seen a ghost, it was pretty obvious that I was terrified. My mother (who doesn't get it) did offer to accompany me to the treatment room but I stubbornly declined out of my disdain for her betrayal. The dentist was fortunately very lovely with nervous people (even though she was not all that lovely at the initial consultation) and was able to talk me through the procedure and have me completely relaxed and trusting her by the middle of the procedure. In the end, it was the first step towards conquering my fears but I'm still mad about it. There are less traumatic approaches that are equally effective in my opinion. In other words, Parents: Don't do this to your child there are better ways!
Second time, I broke a filling and went to my dentist for what I thought would just be an assessment. She's not a spontaneous type of person and generally makes you make another appointment for everything so I figured, whatever the results, I would just have to come back and have it taken care of. Knowing this, I went in feeling fairly confident. She confirmed that the filling was broken, as I had expected and then said "I can just fix it now, do you have some time today?" Lacking in my ability to say "no" and knowing that I really should just get the inevitable over with, I agreed. Next thing I know, the chair is reclining further and she's in my mouth telling me she's going to get me numb. While I waited for the local to take effect, I was shocked that I said yes to this and I pondered about whether I regretted my decision. I wondered if there was still time to back out and if I could back out without looking scared even though we had already revealed in previous appointments that I was scared. Funny how that works. Every new appointment I think, this time, they won't think I'm scared...and then they treat me like I'm not and I'm like "Wait! I take it back! I'm terrified!" I wasn't as scared as the first time but I was certainly flustered as I need time to mentally prepare for things. I think it took about 5 minutes for the shock to wear off and I remember actually chuckling nervously about the situation. After that, a minor panic set in during filling prep with the usual brave face reaction. After about a quarter way-into treatment though, I was able to relax after being very familiar with both the procedure and the dentist. Afterward, I was glad I agreed because it cut out the anticipatory anxiety factor but it's not generally an option I'd choose for myself if possible.
I totally agree with what you have said, I hate being surprised, especially of the dental kind. I think sometimes on the spot treatment is in one way good, because as you said you don't have time to stress. But I worry all the time about what if this tooth broke or this such and such happened. It drives me mad.
Just before Christmas last year I was having the second part of a root canal treatment and my dentist said to me he had found a bit of decay on the tooth next to the one he was working on, that was hidden by the old filling he had just taken out of the tooth being rct. He said "I'll just do it while we're here and you are well numb so you won't feel it" I asked how long drilling and was told 20 seconds it would be very quick. I agreed, and started counting, I got to 25 and thought this is taking ages, and I started to panic a bit, he stopped and checked I was okay, and asked did I want a break, I didn't so he carried on, it was very quick, and I don't know how fast I was counting but because I wasn't expecting this extra bit of work, it sent me off centre a bit. I was of course fine and he was very good. I was glad he had done it there and then and in an odd way I can't explain. I was glad I didn't know before I went, because I had all on coping with the thought of the rct.
I so understand how you feel. I noticed you also answered by thread about re-living things as well.
kitkat (5th March 2012)
Oh yes, but I coped fine, except for a nervous giggle that the dental staff just found charming and entertaining.
I had a few instances of that last year, and I sometimes wondered if it had really been a good idea to say yes when I was midway through the procedure, but I was always OK with it.
I don't like impromptu dental treatment at all!!! No way. I prefer to know exactly what's going to happen at the appointment and how long the appointment will last (so that I can work out whether they're telling the truth about what they intend to do, or whether I've been given a longer appointment so that they can sneak some extra treatment in without telling me in advance!). Maybe I'm just the paranoid and suspicious type !
However, my dentist is well aware of this and so is usually deliberately vague about how long my next appointment will be (despite my best attempts at getting him or the receptionist to tell me! ). If he does mention doing any treatment that I'm not expecting during an appointment then it does tend to cause me to go into a real panic, but my dentist always somehow manages to calm me down and has a way of almost 'charming' me into going along with the treatment. Before I know it, the treatment's finished and he's saying something along the lines of.... "See? I told you it'd be easy " at which point, I end up having to admit he's right and that I probably panicked for nothing.
Having said that, there is no way at all that this would be possible if I didn't trust or like my dentist. If it was someone I'd never met before or that I didn't completely trust, then there is no way that they would be springing any surprise treatment on me whatsoever!!
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I like to know everything in advance, all details. I also like to have comments given as procedures are taking place....a running commentary suits me just fine lol I'd rather know what to expect, even if it is long/difficult for me to cope with, than having something as a surprise. I had a suprise last week, not exactly a major thing, but I needed injections that I was not expecting and I went into a full on panic attack - whereas the week before and the week before that when I knew I was having injections I did not respond in the same way.
I have been fortunate in that when I have needed unplanned treatment eg when a filling has fallen out, my dentist has always explained everything to me. All three of my dentist's have never forced treatment on me, if they have found a problem at a check up they have always informed me and allowed me to come back another time. My dentalphobia was triggered by a dentist who proceeding to try to give me a filling without offering me local anaesthetic or letting me come back another time.
Last edited by Geraint; 6th March 2012 at 11:41. Reason: spelling correction
I also struggle with when treatment does not go how I had envisioned. I had a really unexpectedly painful injection once and I was a devastated mess for the rest of the appointment. Even though the dentist stopped immediately when she realized I was uncomfortable and was able to complete the rest of the procedure comfortably, we went right back to square one and my dentist had to start over with me on building trust. Needless to say, it was a long and difficult appointment for the both of us.
This is such an interesting thread, as you are right it brings up issues of our control and how much we feel we lose that in the dentists chair. Often the poor dentist is just there actually trying to get on with concentrating on their tricky job, and it doesn't occur to actually keep nattering away to those of us who need to know about every minor tool change LOL MMmmm, I'm going to think further about this one.......as you have got me thinking about if it is better to know or not know in advance. Oh gosh I'm confused now....
I am a very laid back person and I live and let live, people can do what they want around me and I don't judge, as long as if I don't agree, or don't want to be part of something, they respect my feelings and my right to choose.
To get to my point, I need to be in control of myself, both physically and emotionally. If I am in any situation, not just the dentist, where I feel I could do nothing, like flying, or going on a ferry where I can't see land, (that's another story altogether) I have a panic attack.
At the dentist as long as he is talking to me, and telling me oh I just found so and so, we can just do it in a tick, is that okay, or would you like me to just deal with it now. I feel I am making the decision and that I can prepare myself for it. I don't want any other tooth touching at all, other than the one he is working on, without first being told, because then he is making the decision and taking my choice away, and it will make me jump, which I hate because it feels like an elec shock in my chest. Then my heart starts racing and panic sets in and then unless I can recover myself, I end up with a panic attack. I hate surprises.
I know that these days we have informed consent, but for me it is a fine line between too much information, and not enough. I like the choice of "You have a tooth that needs a rct, or I can remove it for you" that is the information I like. I don't want the in's and out's of the actual treatment. I will ask what is your advice and I will consider and follow the advice I am given.
As long as I have a little bit of information and am asked I feel in control, which is what I need.
I don't know if this makes sense to anybody, it is really hard to explain.