• Dental Phobia Support

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2 wisdom teeth removed under sedation - YOU CAN DO IT, TOO!



Junior member
Sep 10, 2006
I've had dental phobia for as long as I can remember. In fact, I'm phobic of anything to do with needles or any type of surgical procedure. Period.

I'm always the one who avoids traveling to countries if vaccinations are needed, delays booster jabs, avoids blood tests, cannot watch any kind of medical TV show, and will always find a way to put off a dentist or doctor appointment.

I have, however, taken myself to check up appointments and a clean around once a year. I don't enjoy it, but as long as though I don't hear the words 'cavity' or 'filling', I can get through it with a lot of flinching and fussing. In some ways it gives me great peace of mind to be given the all-clear each time. It's been a miracle that I haven't had to have any dental work done for the past 35+ years.

A few months ago, my two lower wisdom teeth started aching. I thought they might just be moving around somewhat, and that the pain would pass. However, the aching continued, and sometimes woke me up at night. It was clear that this was more than just a bit of moving around. That was the start of blind panic mode. I ventured to go to the local dental hospital for a consultation. I told myself I could muster up the courage, but as soon as the dentist started explaining the procedure to me, I passed out. I was in a country that wouldn't offer general anesthetic or sedation. I was quite sure there was no way I could go through any dental work without any type of extra sedation. Even then, I had my doubts that I could handle anything but general anesthetic.

The fear was so extreme. I could no longer sleep. I broke out in a cold sweat each time the teeth started aching at work. I had to get them out, but I had to at least get sedation. I took the radical decision to give up evertthing - my job, my home, my social network, my income - and to go to the UK, where I knew I could get sedation, and where I felt I could put more trust in the quality of the dentist. The fear of having the wisdom teeth removed literally destroyed my entire life right there and then.

Back in the UK, my dentist referred me to the NHS dental hospital. It wasn't reassuring that she said the procedure was too major for her to do. She also advised me against the wisdom teeth removal because my roots touched the main nerve, and she was sure there would be some permanent numbness or pain. She also couldn't see any problem with the teeth on the xray. Basically, she doubted my saying that I had pain in the teeth.

The wait for the dental hospital was set to be around 6 months. I had put my whole life on hold to get the teeth out. I just couldn't endure 6 months of anxiety and pain with the teeth. Although the dental hospital was to be free, I decided to request a second referral to a private dentist. Part of me wanted to know sooner whether I was going to be able to go through with it all. If I couldn't, the next year was going to be a disaster.

I got referred to a specialist dental surgery in Bristol. I took two sessions of hypnotherapy in advance. To be honest, that was probably a waste of money, but I was desperate to find that miracle fix. I had an inital consultation with the dentist just 3 weeks after the referral. Even though I knew it was just a referral, just 30 seconds after I got through the door, I was hyperventilating, and was in total pieces. I left the surgery in tears, convinced that I wasn't going to be able to go through things.

The D-Day was to be in three weeks' time. I tried relaxation tapes, but nothing seemed to improve. I tried to tell myself that it would be okay, but I couldn’t convince myself. Finally, a few days before the surgery, I just told myself that it will be awful, but that the length of the surgery was going to be so short in comparison to all the years I’ve spent worrying about dental surgery, that if I could just endure the pain for 30 minutes, then it would all be over. That was my mental approach as to how I could go through with it.

The night before the surgery was terrible. Not only was there an argument with another housemate who thought I was being unfair to ask someone who worked nightshifts to be my chaperone for the surgery – a condition of getting sedation - I was vomiting and had diarrhea all night with the anxiety. By the morning, I was an exhausted wreck.

By midday, I was feeling so drained, that all I wanted to do was close my eyes and sleep. That actually helped me a lot, as it kept me much calmer than I would have been on full alert. We drove to the surgery, and I just kept pushing myself forward, reminding myself of my mantra that the discomfort wouldn’t last long. We got to the surgery, and I still hadn’t freaked out. Having the chaperone with me helped keep me in check, since he kept saying that things would be all right.

I went upstairs to the surgery room, and still remained relatively calm. I got myself into the chair, and just felt comfortable, since from the tiredness, all I wanted to do was lie down. I was still anticipating all the horror ahead.

But do you know what? The ‘horror’ never really came.

I was expecting to feel a massive jab as the IV sedation needle pierced the skin. In actual fact, the pain was less than that of a vaccination or blood test. This dentist also put the IV into the back of the hand, not in the arm, which I had read about.

I was also expecting to feel an immediate sense of amnesia and wooziness. That also never came. In fact, I can’t claim to have felt any difference whatsoever – a little worrying!

Next, I was expecting to feel such pain as the local anaesthesia was injected into the gums. But no, it was literally just a slight prick. I had 3 injections on each side. One of them felt as if it was going in a bit further than the rest, but overall, for someone with extreme needle phobia, it was a fairly minor sensation.

One advantage of the particular chair I was in, was that it was angled so far back, that I couldn’t see anything that was going on. That also helped a lot, as I’m sure if I had been able to see even a fraction of what was going on, I would have started to panic. I would also recommend closing your eyes, too. I had to hold some sort of hold-open device in my mouth. I felt perhaps a very slight pull for the first tooth, and I didn’t feel anything for the gum cutting or stitches. It was literally over in a couple of minutes, and I couldn’t believe how pain-free it had all been. I had been expecting to be able to feel everything, but really not at all.
The second tooth needed a bit more force for removal. It seemed to come out in two tugs. Apparently, jaw bone had to be broken off to release the tooth, but again, I honestly wouldn’t have known that had happened unless I had been told. There was just not the force, or the pressure, or any of the pain that I’d have associated with such an action.

I left the surgery feeling fairly okay. I was rather more stunned from surprise at how pain free everything about the procedure had been.

Of course, you’re feeling pretty rough for the next couple of days, as the blood needs to clot, and the jaw starts to swell up (quite a bit!). For me, I didn’t really feel any pain, and stopped painkillers after day 2. However, it was hard to eat for about a week, since I was afraid to move my jaw, or let any food go near the extraction sites. I also couldn’t bring myself to look at the extraction area.

It’s now been about two weeks. The dissolvable stitches still haven’t dissolved, but I’ve been told not to worry about them just yet. I have just started to get a brush to the area, as I was too squeamish to do so before now. I highly recommend getting a baby brush with soft bristles for this, as well as buying some syringe cases to inject water and mouthwash directly around the site.

I still have some risk of infection until the site is fully closed up, which does worry me somewhat, but overall, as for the extraction procedure itself, it was truly nothing compared to what my fear had imagined it to be like.

I totally understand anyone who has a fear of dental surgery. It is a very real fear. It’s also easy for me to brag about how I had my teeth out after the event when others still live in fear. I’m also ready to say that I’m still not over my fear of dentists or any surgery. I wouldn’t really want to go through it again, but I can guarantee anyone that the fear of what you think will happen is quite different to the feeling of when it actually happens. As soon as the local anesthetic is in, and that doesn’t feel half as bad as you imagine, either, you honestly don’t feel anything else that is going on. I think I could probably have gone through that without the sedation in the end.

You need to find a way of thinking that works for you when you approach dental surgery. Most importantly, you need to get through the fear so that you can stop living in fear to such an extent again.

My summary of advice is:
Find a dentist you feel you can trust
Find something that mentally helps you prepare for the day
Focus on the results of the surgery
Keep your eyes closed and don’t watch what is going on around you in the surgery on the day
Have everything prepared in advance of the surgery – mouth rinses, suitable food, a person who can accompany you to the surgery
Remember that I’ve gone through quite extensive wisdom tooth surgery after I’d lived in blind panic type fear of any dental surgery for 35+ years and can tell you that you can do it, too.