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    Thread: Haven't been to dentist in over 20 years - Scared and Embarassed

    1. #1
      Join Date
      Jan 2013
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      Default Haven't been to dentist in over 20 years - Scared and Embarassed

      First let me say that I found this website yesterday. I read posts for over an hour! It helped enough that I actually took the phone book out to look for a dentist. Hopefully soon I'll actually make a much needed appointment. Many moons ago when my sister was 11 years old, she went into the hospital to have 8 teeth extracted. It turns out she was allergic to anesthesia and she actually died, but thankfully was revived. She spent 10 days in the ICU with failed kidneys and liver damage. We were on edge not knowing if we'd still have her one day to the next. After this incident, my mother put the fear of God into us as far as going to the dentist, and that was 20+ years ago. About 7 years ago my mouth was in serious pain and I finally had to go to the dentist. Turns out I needed a root canal and I swear I almost had a nervous breakdown - I actually got copies of my sister's medical records and brought them to the dentist before the procedure and MADE him look through them. Well, I made it - but never went back for the post and crown; thats my first issue. Now, this week I had a piece of tartar with a small piece of my tooth attached pop out of my mouth. I don't SEEM to have much of a tartar problem in my mouth, with the exception of the back of my lower front teeth. This is where it came from and its the second time its happened. It was black on one side which scared the heck out of me. My teeth aren't loose, and don't usually bother me, but sometimes my gums there are sore. My fear is that when they start to clean my teeth, that they will become loose because that tartar is holding them in place. Somebody once told me that couldn't happen - then my step son (who is taking dental assisting - go figure) told me that a "bridge of tartar can be whats holding your teeth in your mouth! UGH! Secondly, I'm kind of scared that if they start picking or cleaning the tooth that had the root canal, that it will chip or fall out, because I believe thats the next step for that tooth since its dead. Finally, I am embarassed to tell them that I haven't been to the dentist in so long, and for them to see the decay behind my teeth. I know I have a unique story why (what happened to my sister) but I almost feel foolish thinking that I'm going to go in, sit in the chair, then go into this big explanation as to why I haven't been . . . . *sigh*

    2. #2
      Join Date
      Jul 2006
      Location
      Michigan, USA
      Gender
      Female
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      713

      Default Re: Haven't been to dentist in over 20 years - Scared and Embarassed

      The tartar is NOT holding your tooth together. I had a lot built up on one back molar and the hygienist used numbing gel and scraped it off. It didn't hurt and voila! There was a shiny white tooth underneath!
      Patti

    3. The Following User Says Thank You to Patti For This Useful Post:

      Debi2234 (9th January 2013)

    4. #3
      Join Date
      Apr 2012
      Location
      Cleveland, OH (USA)
      Gender
      Male
      Posts
      544

      Default Re: Haven't been to dentist in over 20 years - Scared and Embarassed

      Hi Debi,

      First, welcome to the forum, and you should be proud of yourself for telling your story and reaching out for help. As I hope you've learned from reading the forums, you're far from being the only person in the world who hasn't been to the dentist in ages, or who has broken teeth in need of much repair.

      No one here is going to be able to diagnose you, obviously, but I can tell you that I've had root canal teeth that I put off crowning for years, and my dentist was still able to prep and crown them. I wouldn't let the black bit attached to the tartar scare you too much, either. It doesn't mean your tooth is actually black inside or out-- discoloration often happens on the surface just due to food and bacteria and whatnot-- again, I've had bits of tooth break off (there's always a black part), and have been able to have the remaining tooth filled/crowned and restored to healthy.

      So really, nothing you've described is shocking to me, and I doubt it will be shocking to any dentist. I had big chunks of tooth broken off, teeth that were broken down to the gumline or worse, black/yellow/green you-name-it discoloration, bleeding gums... my dentist just took some x-rays and calmly made up a list of what each tooth needed. There was no lecture or questions about why I'd let my teeth get so bad. My dentist is very compassionate and has been patient and skillful at restoring both my teeth and my trust in dentists.

      There's no easy way to get you past the first steps-- making an appointment, and getting yourself into the chair. Unfortunately, that's something you'll have to talk yourself into. All I can tell you is, don't focus on the past, just focus on the future. Whatever you've done, or neglected to do, is behind you, and it can't be undone. But you can start taking the steps to get your teeth healthy, no matter how bad you think they are, and you can get through and smile and eat and brush like a "normal" person again. It seems like a huge mountain but lots of us here have found it's not so bad, but it does take the courage of a warrior to get past the phobia.

      I'd recommend checking the internet, places like Angie's list, the dentist board here on DFC, or even asking friends, and try to find a dentist who either specializes in phobics, or at least who is recommended by other nervous patients. Many people have luck writing up a letter (or just copy your post) and mailing/emailing it to the dentist ahead of time. This will help the dentist understand that you have some special circumstances and need a little extra gentle care.

      When you're able to, I'd recommend just calling and arranging an initial exam-- not a cleaning. You don't have to explain or apologize, just say that you've been away from the dentist for a while, and have some problem areas, and want the dentist to take a look. For the initial exam, the dentist will have a look around your mouth (no poking or scraping, just looking), and probably want to take some x-rays. Any dentist who's recommended will be very unlikely to want to lecture or judge you-- most dentists are very sensitive to the fact that people are pretty terrified on their first visit back. Instead you can expect to have a calm conversation about what procedures are needed, what options you have, etc. Almost everything can be done with local anesthetic (root canals, crowns, extractions, etc) so you can also talk about any fears you have about anesthesia.

      You should not worry about the dentist immediately "going to town" and starting to pick and scrape and work on your teeth without your consent. Nor should anyone lecture you, shame you, or draw back in horror-- they *have* seen worse, trust me. And, nothing in your mouth is likely to be an emergency, so no one's going to demand to clean/extract/drill anything right away (this was a big fear of mine). The whole purpose of the exam is to start a conversation with the dentist, understand what work needs done, and discuss what you want to do. What YOU want to do. So even if the dentist recommends something you can't handle yet, you have every right to go home and put it off for as long as you want.

      I think you'll be surprised at how kind and helpful everyone is once you're able to make that first appointment. You have some serious trauma in your past, so it's going to take you a little extra to overcome your fears and build up trust (and it might even take some drugs-- there are some wonderful calming drugs out there). You might even want to start with just a conversation with the dentist, outside of the Room, just to discuss your needs and history, before you even open your mouth. A good dentist should be willing to work slowly with you and help keep your mind at ease that you're in good hands.

      I encourage you to read the Success Stories and Journals here (my own journal is here). There are lots of people here who are at various stages of conquering their dental phobia, and hopefully reading our stories will help you know that you're not alone, and that it can be done.

      Good luck, sweetie, and keep posting! It's not going to happen all at once, but you've made a big step coming here, and you will get there...
      • All opinions expressed are opinions; I'm not a dentist or medical professional.
      • Each mouth and each tooth is different, so my experience may not be yours.
      • Talk to a dentist before making any decisions or building up any expectations about what you need.
      • Stay calm and be kind to yourself.

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