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    Thread: A Long Time Coming

    1. #1
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      Default A Long Time Coming

      I've worked on this 'success story' for quite some time now. I've been anxious about posting it because it is so incredibly personal. I've told bits and pieces of this story in different parts of this forum, but putting it all together somehow feels different. This forum has given me so much so I hope that by taking the risk to post this that it can help others. Please leave a comment if you can relate to any of my story or if you find it helpful. Thank for reading :-)

      Like most of you, if Iím honest, I really never believed that I would be the one writing a Ďsuccess storyí. Growing up, I always remember being afraid to go to the dentist. We rarely went Ė maybe 3 or 4 times my entire childhood Ė and when we did go, it was always so horribly painful from years of plaque and tartar build up. I remember the dentistís office like it was yesterday and I remember often hearing children screaming and crying in the other room Ė I couldnít even imagine the tortures that went on in there. My parents also both had Ďbad teethí Ė my mother was always having some painful procedure or another and my father had full dentures by the time he was 40. I had braces in high school and was generally ok with those visits, but the orthodontic work itself was quite painful and, at one point, created a half-inch gap between my 2 front teeth. One my braces were off, I swore I would never go to the dentist again.

      When I was in my early 20ís, I had dental insurance though my job and a friend shamed me into making an appointment with a dentist. I went to the dentist and she was nice, but I remember being physically sick each time I had to go. Iíd lose sleep for days before, be totally useless the entire day of, and then be almost entirely dissociated by the time Iíd get to my appointment. She did the first filling Iíd ever have which, unfortunately didnít go smoothly and ended up needing several appointments to get situated. I have a general and severe fear of injections and having my first dental injection was one of the most terrifying things I had every done. The dentist also kept pressuring me to get my wisdom teeth out which I just couldnít imagine ever happening. After about a year or so of going to this dentist, she got cancer and left her practice for a period of time. I never went back even after she returned.

      Fast-forward about 6 years (I had just turned 30) and, again, I was shamed Ė this time by coworkers Ė into making an appointment with a dentist. In my mind going to the dentist was something I just didnít do. It wasnít part of my life and it didnít seem necessary. And, of course, I was terrified. My coworkers were pretty appalled to hear this and couldnít understand why someone with dental insurance wouldnít go to the dentist. At the time, many of my coworkers were going to the same dentist around the corner from where we worked. I was really opposed to going to a male dentist Ė my childhood dentist was male and I also had thought that a male dentist would be less caring than a female one Ė but they all convinced me that this dentist was nice and also skilled. I agonized for weeks about calling. Then, one day, I found a quiet spot and made the call. My voice was shaking and, though I donít remember exactly what I said, I remember I wasnít able to say much. In some ways, it feels like it was yesterday. I made an appointment and knew there was no turning back.

      Unfortunately, the years without dental care and taken their toll on my teeth. In the seven years since that first appointment, Iíve had countless fillings, 4 RCTs, 4 crowns, and did finally have my wisdom teeth extracted. Though my dentist has not done all of the work (the RCTs and extractions were done by specialists), he has truly been there to support me through this process every step of the way. In seven years, I havenít missed a cleaning appointment and Iíve been able to get all the work done that needed doing. Iíve been able to have dental procedures that Iíd never, even in my worst nightmares, imagined that Iíd be able to get though. But, even after all of that, I still struggled with nearly paralyzing anxiety in the days and weeks leading up to appointments. So, though some may have considered my story a Ďsuccessí seven years ago at the start of this journey, it never felt that way to me. The anxiety I felt leading up to appointments impacted almost every area of my life and to me, that wasnít success at all. I couldnít shake the physical symptoms of the anxiety I would feel despite having no anxious thoughts to go along with it. Then, six months ago, something, maybe everything, changed.

      My dentist, the one who had been there for me through all of this, the one who I trusted, the one who I had imagined I would be going to until I had no teeth left, got sick. And, not the kind of sick that keeps you home in bed for a few days, but the kind of sick that may mean that his years practicing may be cut short. He has cancer. I was devastated, but I was also determined. Finding this out hit me really hard. Heís not that much older than I am and I suddenly started to question my own mortality. I was determined that, no matter what happened to him, I would figure out a way to continue regular dental treatment. Iíd felt for a long time that there was no way I could ever repay him for his patience and kindness. I knew that the best thing that I could Ďgiveí him for all that he had done for me was that I would finally conquer this phobia that had taken hold and know that, if heís no longer able to practice, I will find another dentist and continue to get regular dental care.

      In the last six months, Iíve visited this forum nearly daily. Iíve tried to offer support to others, but Iíve also tried to figure out for myself how to manage the nearly crippling anxiety that would come leading up to dental appointments. Iíve had so much dental work in the last 7 years and most of it had going very smoothly. Despite this, I couldnít seem to rid myself of the fear and anxiety. I often found that the anxiety was worse for 6-month cleaning appointments than it was for other appointments. I think part of it was that the hygienist has changed many times over the last 7 years, so Iíve had to try to learn to trust a number of different hygienists. I think another part of it was that those appointments usually come after a longer time away from ĎThe Chairí so part of me forgets that thereís no actual danger there. And then, thereís always the fear at those appointments that theyíll find something wrong and Iíll need additional dental work.

      A little over a month ago I had a 6-month cleaning appointment. I kept expecting to get anxious, but amazingly I never did. I just kept telling myself, that going to the dentist is a Ďnormalí part of life and that whatever happened would be ok. The cleaning itself was totally ok. I found out that I need 2 or 3 fillings replaced and that, in the next year or so I will need one of my crowns replaced. When the dentist told me about needing the fillings replaced, he started to say itís Ďno big dealí. Then, probably remembering how anxious Iíve been, started to backpedal. But even hearing this news, I was still totally ok. Really more annoyed and frustrated that my teeth continue to decay than anything else. Iím not even worried about having the crown replaced Ė again, just annoyed and frustrated that nothing that I do to take care of my teeth seems to be helping.

      So maybe thatís it for me. Maybe Iím cured of my dental phobia? It almost seems too good to be true. My appointment for the fillings to be replaced is coming up and Iím feeling totally ok about it. I know that there are people on this forum who have found great dentists, but who still struggle with going to the dentist. I hope that this story can provide some hope that sometimes it just takes time. I appreciate everyone on this forum and all the support that people have given me. Now I hope that I can return the favor by giving back.

    2. The Following 10 Users Say Thank You to FearfulInMA For This Useful Post:

      becca757 (28th December 2016), Bluebug (14th July 2015), bottleslinger13 l (6th May 2016), CollegeBound (11th June 2015), islandqueen (16th June 2015), marco (11th June 2015), Mugz (13th July 2015), sleeplessinseattle (11th June 2015), Spike 1969 (11th June 2015), Wildsky (11th June 2015)

    3. #2
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      Default Re: A Long Time Coming

      I really think you need to change your name to Fearless!

      You story is incredibly inspirational! Although I don't agree with other people shaming others into any kind of medical treatment that they are truly afraid of, I do think that you made a good choice by going and coming out on top!

      As for you dentist, I think that by continuing to see someone regularly in their honor is an incredible gift that you could give him. You are brave. You are strong. And, you have a whole forum at the ready to help you transition when the time comes.

      Thank you for being a wonderful friend to everyone. It is helpful to see your positive comments and kind words of wisdom.

    4. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to CollegeBound For This Useful Post:

      FearfulInMA (11th June 2015), Mugz (13th July 2015), Spike 1969 (11th June 2015)

    5. #3
      Join Date
      Jan 2014
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      45

      Default Re: A Long Time Coming

      I have to say,,, thank you so much for your story. Our stories are remarkably similar. Right down to my dentist being ill. He has had three heart attacks and is in his fifties. He is down to working two days a week. That is the reason I always go to see him on Fridays. I constantly worry about what I will do when he is no longer able to treat me. I, like you have made all my appointments and I do everything I can to manage my fears and this phobia that I wouldn't wish on another person, ever. I have done everything I can think of to work on this and to try and understand why I can't beat this.

      I also visit this forum daily because I find it as a source of strength in this journey and it is so nice to know I am not the only one going through these issues. You have been an incredible help to me and a great source of support. I hope I can return the favor. On the 22nd I will be sending prayers, hugs, and support your way. I copied and pasted one of my first posts, so that you could read a little background on me.

      I am not sure if I will ever be cured of my phobia, but I would really like to be able to go to a visit without being physically ill and sleepless at some point. You sound like you really have a handle on your situation, I am happy for you and thanks again for sharing. Reno

      Questions from a complete phobic


      First of all I will give you a little background on myself. I am one of those unfortunate people that just does not get numb. When I was a small child my parents sent me to a dentist that was a sadist in my opinion and the root of my phobia. I would tell him over and over that it still hurt and he would not give me more Novocain. My parents were poor so they did not take me to the dentist unless there was a major issue, so every visit to the dentist equated to pain to the 10th power to me. They never went in with me either, so they never saw what this man did to me. Let me tell you it has been the subject of countless nightmares for me to this day, and continuously when I have a pending appointment. I will spare everyone the details (unless someone wants to know, just ask). As an adult I could go to the dentist (I had insurance as well as money) and still would do anything to avoid it. On the good side I was blessed with strong straight teeth, so I hadn't had a ton of cavities (no crowns or extractions etc). After I got pregnant with my son I could tell I was getting some major build up on my teeth and that I really should see a dentist. I forced myself to go even though I have over the top anxiety and can't sleep, eat, have boughts of diarrhea, at times vomiting etc. No one ever knew of my phobia as I hid it at all costs. I forced myself to go and face my fears. I got a deep clean and scale and had my old amalgam fillings replaced with composite fillings since mine were very old. That was in 1994....

      Jump forward 18 years and one morning I as flossing my teeth and the whole back of tooth #30 flew out of my mouth. My Fiance said he had never seen me look so devastated in the whole 7 years he had been with me. I was hysterically crying on his shoulder, and as he held me my whole life story of the phobia that had haunted me my whole life spilled out. He had absolutely no idea about any of it and was completely shocked at all the things I had been through as a child. He was patient and understanding and said he would do anything he could to help me get through this. I made the appointment that I dreaded most in life. He drove me to the dentist and I poured my guts out to him as well. He was very reassuring, kind and promised to not do anything to me unless he was positive that I would not feel a thing.

      He told me that I was lucky that I only needed a crown since the tooth was not decayed, it was just that the old filling had broken. It took 10 shots for him to work on this tooth. He also told me that I had four additional cavities that I needed repaired I was of course devastated again, but I did get them all fixed with lots of nitrous and xanax and the loving help of his office. That was October 2013. Since all that happened I have been going regularly to get my teeth cleaned every two months, because I am paranoid of new cavities and I thought my fear would go away if I went often and was familiar with everyone at my dental office. Unfortunately it hasn't, but I have been managing. I even have to use nitrous and xanax to go to these cleaning appointments.

      FYI*This is the same tooth that I am having the crown removal on.

    6. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to Reno For This Useful Post:

      FearfulInMA (11th June 2015), Mugz (13th July 2015), Spike 1969 (15th June 2015)

    7. #4
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      Default Re: A Long Time Coming

      Well done on conquering your fear I guess when you go so much you are eventually able to take over control
      over those fears. I don't think fears like this will ever go away but we can control it and use it to protect our
      self in stead of hurt us by making us not go at all.

      I'm happy for you and keep up the good work on the forums

    8. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to marco For This Useful Post:

      Mugz (13th July 2015), Spike 1969 (15th June 2015)

    9. #5
      Join Date
      Feb 2017
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      Default Re: A Long Time Coming

      Thanks for sharing. I've needed some encouragement lately and this has been so helpful.

    10. #6
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      Default A Long Time Coming

      I'm so glad! Please feel free to send me a message or post here if you have any questions about any of my story.

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