• Dental Phobia Support

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26 year old male, very bad teeth, looking for support/advice

A

anonymous156

Junior member
Joined
Feb 17, 2014
Messages
2
(I apologize in advance for this being a long post. This is the first time I've ever talked publicly about any of this. I, unfortunately, have a lot to get out.)

Hi everyone, my name is Tyler. I'm 26 years old and from Tennessee. I joined this forum today in hopes that I can get on track to finally fix my teeth and get back the self-esteem I've lost over the last few years. Over the past few months I've done a lot of googling on different fears I've had about going to the dentist, and I always find myself reading links on this forum. I've finally decided to post my own story and hopefully begin a journal here. I've made the conscious decision to finally get my teeth fixed and I'm looking for any support and advice I can get. I hope in the process I can be yet another person on this forum that can give others the courage to get the help they need.

First of all, I have to admit that I never would have imagined myself in this position. I think that's what makes this the hardest for me. I'm a decent looking person, fairly smart, funny, and easy to get along with. Yet, the moment someone sees my teeth, I feel like it outweighs every positive trait about myself. Ten years ago, if I imagined someone with teeth like mine, I would have thought of an elderly person, a drug addict, or a crazy person. Not someone like me. I'm constantly afraid of people seeing my teeth. It's became second nature to talk without showing them. I rarely look people in the face when I talk. Despite how good I've gotten at hiding my problem, I'm in near constant fear that someone caught a glimpse of my teeth when my guard was down. I feel judged, and fear that they think I'm gross. It's had a negative impact on every social situation I've had

My damage is not as extensive as some people on here, but it's still pretty bad. First, none of of my wisdom teeth have been taken out. The top left one is completely sideways and never broke the gum line, but the other three are exposed. The bottom two came in sideways, and have rotted away down to the gum line about a year and a half ago. The top right wisdom tooth came in perfectly fine, but the back half of it has rotted and gives me pain on occasion.

The extreme decay from my wisdom teeth went on next to my molars. My back left molar is completely gone. It's down to the gum line, only the root of the tooth remains. Most of my pain nowadays comes from the back right of my mouth. The majority of my back right molar has also decayed away, as well as the next tooth in front of it. I also have a small bump deep below my gum line that I can only assume is an abscess. It's been there at least six months and hasn't changed in size. That covers most of the "big" damage. From there, nearly every tooth on the bottom has cavities of varying sizes on the gum line.

My top teeth are in slightly better condition, only a small chip on one tooth to the middle-left and a few more cavities at the gum line. However, at front and center, there is a cavity between my two front teeth that has been quickly widening. For the longest time I didn't worry TOO much about the problems in the back of my mouth because they weren't easily visible, but having a problem front and center has increased my anxiety about the issue tenfold.

One of the issues I'm most worried about though is I'm fairly certain I have periodontal disease. Of course I haven't been diagnosed by a dentist or a doctor with it, but from reading online I have the symptoms. Receding gums, lots of bleeding (when I wake up in the morning, I almost always spit out blood), and constant bad breath (I go through a pack of Stride a day just to hide it). I'm extremely worried this will complicate my time at the dentist.

The only thing that isn't too terrible is that my teeth aren't THAT discolored. They're a far stretch away from pearly white, but if someone catches a glimpse they're also not blinded by yellow. That's the one thing I'm thankful for. Also, my teeth are pretty straight. The bottom front it a little crooked (I was a thumb sucker) but outside of that my teeth are positioned well.

I wish I knew why I've taken such bad care of my teeth, but I simply don't know. After I got past the age where my mother would hound me about it, I just simply stopped brushing. It started off by just a super quick brush every morning, to maybe just a quick brush two or three times a week, to only doing it before important stuff (dates, job interviews, weddings), to simply not doing it ever. Just typing that out makes me upset with myself. For a good few years I didn't notice any problems, but once the problems started they poured in.

When I was about 21 my mom took me to the dentist (my last time before that was when I was 16), and they told me they had a lot of work to do. They told me they wanted to fix my teeth before they took the wisdom teeth out. In the course of three long sessions they fixed my top teeth pretty well (which explains why they're in better condition). Between those visits I still kept lousy care of my teeth. I just simply wasn't worried about it, I have no other way to explain it. When I came in for them to start working on my bottom teeth, I was still feeling a lot of pain even after three shots. The dentist said my gums were bleeding a lot as well and they told me to come back in a few weeks after regularly brushing and using the mouthwash they prescribed me. I never went back.

It's been over five years since then, and in that time I've kept just as bad care of my teeth. I've reversed a lot of the hard work they did on my top teeth, and my bottom teeth have only gotten that much worse. I know that it'll take quite a few visits (and a trip to the oral surgeon) to fully fix everything, but I'm finally ready. It's only been one day, but I know I'm going to change this now. I want my confidence back, I want to not be ashamed of smiling, and I want to be out of pain.

Please share any support or similar stories you have, but I'm also looking to answers to a few questions:

1) I'm signed up for the best medical and dental plans my work has to offer. It costs me about a hundred dollars a month. Our insurance is Blue Cross Blue Shield. It was explained to me that if I spend over a thousand dollars out of pocket on a procedure, my insurance will cover the rest. I'm not too familiar with these types of things, and it simply sounds too good to be true, so if anyone has any insight on just how exactly dental insurance works, I'd deeply appreciate it. I'm also very curious about how much this could end up costing me, so I'd be very grateful for even a rough estimate.

2) I've read a lot of wisdom tooth extraction, but I've had a hard time finding any information about getting wisdom teeth removed that are as far gone as mine. I know I'll have to go to an oral surgeon for this because they'll have to cut into my gums just to get to what remains. Does anyone have any information on this sort of situation? Will it be more complicated than a typical wisdom tooth extraction?

3) I'm not too terribly worried about pain, but after my last visit with the problems they were having with my bottom teeth, I'm a little on edge. The dentist told me there are more nerves in the lower teeth, or something like that. I've been researching "pain free" dentists, but I'd like to know exactly what that entails. In all honesty I'd prefer to just be completely put under while they do everything. Is that a viable option? Would insurance cover that?

4) I'm absolutely terrified they're going to suggest dentures. Despite the bad condition of my teeth, they're at least not completely falling out. I know it's a little late to care about something like this, but I really don't want to be in my 20's and wearing dentures. Does anyone know how extensive damage has to be before they suggest something as extreme as that?

5) Dietary changes? A big reason this has happened to me is because I eat nothing but junk. What foods and drinks should I go for? Stay away from? I want to fix all aspects of this problem, not just my teeth.

6) And finally, in the off chance that anyone who reads this is from the Memphis area, are there any dentists that you'd suggest? Any to stay away from? I want to line up my first appointment sometime in April, so I've got a lot of time to shop around. In the meantime I'm going to start getting myself in the right habits.

Thanks again for reading, and I look forward to giving you all more updates in the coming days!
 
Dr. Daniel

Dr. Daniel

Well-known member
Verified dentist
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
1,958
Location
The Hague , Holland
Hi anonymous156 and welcome to this forum,

While reading your thread, your determination and believe that your dental situation will get better have impressed me. Research shows that the best predicting factor for overcoming phobia (not only dental but any) is when the person believes that he/she can overcome the phobia. That is why I am certain you will succeed.
You talked a lot about your dental history and it might be also good if you write about the dental fear itself. Sharing about it will improve your feeling, members of this wonderful forum can response and more important: it will make things clearer for you and when you will meet a dentist/oral surgeon you will know how to present your story concerns and need in an optimal way so that they will treat you according to your needs.

Regarding your questions: Extracting a broken wisdom tooth might go very easy, it depends on many factors, but if the tooth is completely erupted, inmost cases there is no need for a surgical extraction (meaning opening the gums). I don't know what the dentist meant while saying that the lower jaw has more nerves, but if it is fear of pain, an extraction should be pain free, that's the dentist's responsibility. You might feel some pressure but it is actually easier to block the pressure sensation at the lower jaw than in the upper. I suggest you don't extract all the teeth in one time because it is not easy for the body. Doing it "under" makes it even more difficult for the body.
You mentioned dentures: dentures are merely a mean of adding more teeth in the mouth (as also bridges and implants). If after treating all your teeth (cavities, extractions, cleaning the gums) your mouth contains enough teeth for chewing and smiling :) then there is no need to add any more teeth. In 99% out of the cases of patients at your age group, dentures are not the first recommendation.
Dietary is a big topic and the recommendations may vary between persons. Eating junk is not healthy for the teeth and the entire body, so if your oral health can motivate you in changing your diet habits, embrace it and use it.
All the best.
 
A

anonymous156

Junior member
Joined
Feb 17, 2014
Messages
2
Thank you for your kind (and prompt!) words, Dr. Daniel. I thought about explaining my fears, but I feel kind of silly. A lot of the people on these forums are people with legitimate phobias of the dentist, whereas my concerns are a lot more minor. Nonetheless, I'll explain.

As far as pain goes, I've never had a downright terrible time at the dentist. A twinge of pain here or there, but nothing too bad. I had a root canal at 16 and I was honestly amazed at how little I felt. The only time that was particularly painful was the time stated above where they started on my bottom teeth. Because of that, I'm a bit apprehensive simply because that was the first time I had pretty much ever had a dentist work on my bottom teeth. However, this is also why I'm forcing myself into good habits a few weeks prior to going to the dentist so I don't have those problems again.

As silly as it sounds, my biggest fear is being judged. I already know that I'll go to a dentist in another part of town, just to make sure I don't run into anyone I know. A few people I knew growing up are dental hygienists now, and I know I'd turn around and walk out the door if I saw them. I don't want someone I used to go to school with telling all of our friends how horrible my teeth are.

For example, when I went and had my top teeth worked on, my dentist left the room for a few minutes. A woman came in and started talking to me about oral hygiene, which was most certainly a talk that I needed, but her entire demeanor was condescending. She talked to me like I was an idiot, and it made me feel bad for even being there in the first place. I was honestly embarrassed, I don't deal well with being shamed like that.

The condition of my teeth is an extremely touchy subject with me. Not even my family or close friends know the full extent of the damage of my teeth. It's something I'm deeply ashamed of about myself. I was reading someone elses thread earlier and they put it perfectly - "This is my mountain." There is really no other thing in my life that comes close to this hurdle. It feels like if I can get this sorted out, I could rule the world.

I know it's part of a dentist's job to make sure their patient knows how important oral hygiene is, but I just hope it's done in a thoughtful manner. I couldn't take another situation like the woman that spoke with me last time.

Additionally, I have a problem with letting my thoughts run away. I worry that they'll have to extract more teeth than I think, I worry that I'll get an infection after my wisdom teeth are removed, I worry that my constant dentist appointments will interfere with work. Furthermore, my job requires a lot of driving. I'm afraid I'll be prescribed drugs to help with the pain that will keep me from being able to do my job. I worry that my tooth decay has gotten so bad that it's gotten down to my jawbone.

I guess I'm mainly just afraid of that first visit where they show me everything that's going to need to be done. And I guess I'm afraid of complications that could occur after the fact. But most of all, I'm afraid of being judged. I know dentists deal with tons of people with tons of teeth, but it's just something I have a hard time getting over.

Thanks again Dr. Daniel, your words of encouragement really were great to read.
 
T

tabhollywood

Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2011
Messages
20
You do sound determined which is great. I can't really add onto what Dr Daniel has said apart from echoing that its extremely unlikely you'd need dentures. Dentistry is so good at providing solutions ( white fillings for restoration, caps, crowns etc) for teeth us lay people believe would have to be pulled out.

As for diet I'd try to avoid fizzy drinks and work towards establishing a healthy fresh food diet apart from the benefits to your teeth it would certainly improve your overall well being. Sorry if that sounds condescending but I'm a firm believer in good food helping us physically and mentally.

Lots of luck, please keep us updated on your progress x
 
Z

zabka

Junior member
Joined
Feb 19, 2014
Messages
10
Additionally, I have a problem with letting my thoughts run away. I worry that they'll have to extract more teeth than I think, I worry that I'll get an infection after my wisdom teeth are removed, I worry that my constant dentist appointments will interfere with work. Furthermore, my job requires a lot of driving. I'm afraid I'll be prescribed drugs to help with the pain that will keep me from being able to do my job. I worry that my tooth decay has gotten so bad that it's gotten down to my jawbone.

I guess I'm mainly just afraid of that first visit where they show me everything that's going to need to be done. And I guess I'm afraid of complications that could occur after the fact. But most of all, I'm afraid of being judged. I know dentists deal with tons of people with tons of teeth, but it's just something I have a hard time getting over.

This pretty much sums up the way I feel. Although I have been for a very quick initial exam, I haven't had a full diagnosis or xray yet, so I can't say much to allay your fears. But please don't think you're weird for feeling this way. It's natural (albeit somewhat unhelpful!). I also neglected my oral hygiene for many years and I think that it sits in the back of your mind even if you're managing to consciously ignore it. So as soon as you actually admit to yourself 'this is a problem which I HAVE to resolve', all of these suppressed doubts and fears come to the surface at maximum potency. That's what I think, anyway.

In good news, though, the dental student who looked in my mouth didn't even wrinkle her nose at my toxic breath, let alone condemn me for my poor decisions in the past. I was scared of being judged but didn't feel like this at all - it was just like she was checking what maintenance needed carrying out on a machine! So there are nice, non-judgemental dentists out there. I'm sure you will find one too :)

Also, I wouldn't speak with anyone about my teeth before, not my family or girlfriend or friends, and I hated them bringing up the subject even if it was in the kindest way. But something broke inside me recently, and after the first conversation with my girlfriend I felt GREAT. It's weird, but when she didn't judge me and just wanted to help, my discomfort around the speaking issue melted away. Fast forward to two weeks later, and everyone I work with knows I need extensive dental work and at least four extractions! My voice still shakes a little bit, but it's getting much easier and most people I speak to have started reeling off a list of work they've had done, or confessing their own fears. Nobody has looked disgusted or turned away or treated me any differently. There is a crazy taboo about oral health - but if you break it first you might be surprised at what you find out about other people! (Bear in mind that I do live in the UK, nation of bad teeth ;))

I am still hiding my teeth from sight, but take it one day at a time. Every step you take is one step closer to success and you've taken a massive one by joining and posting here - and an even bigger one deciding that you CAN and WILL do something to get this sorted!

I've only just begun my journey and I already feel better. You can do it!
 
J

juleslab1

Junior member
Joined
Jan 16, 2014
Messages
3
Oh my gosh I feel like we have similar things going on. I had braces and didn't take care of them at all! All my teeth except maybe one of them have had fillings, or more than one filling! And I am only 26! I finally found a dentist that I can trust and he said we need to crown my teeth as my old fillings are beginning to fall out because they weren't done that well. So now I need like $40,000 to crown and fix my teeth. Part of my problem too is that I grind my teeth and my bite is so off because I had 4 crowns put in so far. But the previous dentist didn't do such a great job, so they all have to be replaced. This is actually more common than I thought it ever would be. I keep feeling so alone and kind of depressed and angry that this is happening to me! But there is even a guy in my office who is going through a similar thing where he needs to have all his teeth crowned. I really like your attitude though! I mean don't get me wrong, this process sucks, but we are so lucky to have the ability to fix this! I think we will both be able to pull through, but talking certainly helps me :)
 
G

gamergirl123

Former Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2013
Messages
248
I'm absolutely terrified they're going to suggest dentures. Despite the bad condition of my teeth, they're at least not completely falling out. I know it's a little late to care about something like this, but I really don't want to be in my 20's and wearing dentures. Does anyone know how extensive damage has to be before they suggest something as extreme as that?

Not really sure but speaking from personal experience, I can't blame you for not wanting dentures. For some people, the partials/dentures are something that they love, but for me its not. And also I highly recommend you getting the ball rolling as soon as you can, even if it's just looking for a good dentist then working up from there, to minimize the chances of having to get dentures, or even partials.

started having my dental issues at least 10 years ago with it really getting worse in the last couple years or so. I know that I should of gone in ages ago but thanks to a dental phobia stemming from dental work I had to get done when I was about 4 years old and got gassed and papoosed for, I kept putting it off and putting it off until it got to the current situation. If I would of known what I would of had to endure, including getting partials I hate worse then anything in the world, even my 11th grade English teacher famous for flunking the most kids at least 4 years running, I would of dragged myself in to save myself from a ton of problems including having to get partials.

In the last 3 months, I had to endure the initial visit, deep cleaning, mold, 2 rounds of extractions, 2 visits regarding the uppers, 4 with the lowers, and 2 fillings. Current situation for me is that I don't even wear the partials unless mom bugs me enough or for a dentist trip since I hate them. the uppers took 2 adjustments and I might have to get a 3rd tweak done and the lowers NEVER worked right for me. I had a trip for adjustments, a trip for attempted adjustments that turned into molds for the new one, a trip for a trial fitting, and a trip for the new one. New one fits ok in the back but the front replacement tooth sits a little to high plus if I attempt the chew on the left side, it feels like the whole lower is shifting to the left!!! I give up!
 
M

mirla

Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2006
Messages
67
I spent 10 years not going to the dentist because is was terrified of having my wisdom teeth extracted. When I finally went back, I was convince I didn't have any teeth worth saving. Guess what? I have some crowns and some root canals, but no dentures or bridges.

I also learned that my number one phobia was the judging. I don't think that's at all unusual, and any modern Dentist should recognize that and treat you accordingly. If your dentist or any of their staff judges you, walk out and try another dentist.

One very important thing I learned from this site is that different people have different dental phobias. The dentist can't know what your issues are, unless you tell them. You might want to write out a list, including how you want them dealt with. For example, I didn't want to see my x-rays or know anything beyond what they would suggest for the next appointment. Others need to see them to feel in control. You could say you're not ready to discuss a potential need for dentures.

I deal best with my judging issues by beating them to the punch. Before I let anyone look in my mouth, I told them I know I need to take better care of my teeth, and it is something I am working on, that I don't want them to mention anything about it unless it's something positive (I've noticed an improvement since the last time, it's so good you're here, etc.). If I already said I need to floss better, there's no reason for them to mention it.
 
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