• Dental Phobia Support

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40 Years old- haven't been to dentist since I was six. Terrified.


Jenny the Geek

Junior member
Oct 30, 2017
Hi, just for some background.... I have never been to the dentist since I was 6. We went on a school field trip. My mother said that it was just "baby teeth" and she wasn't paying money to get any cavities fixed. She also never took me to the dentist once I had all my permanent teeth. I was forced to by my own tooth paste, personal hygiene products, etc. As a child, you can imagine I didn't have much money. So, brushing my teeth wasn't a priority or even an option most of the time. The toothpaste was kept in my parent's bathroom, which I was not allowed to go into.....

To make all this worse, I was bulimic for all my my teenage years into my 20's. Parts of my front teeth have cracked off. I probably don't have a tooth in my head that doesn't have a cavity in it. All I feel is shame and terror. People see this pretty, successful woman who never smiles with her teeth showing.

I've been lucky enough not to have any real pain or abscesses or anything. But I know it's just a matter of time. I'm horrified that the dentist is going to think badly of me for the state of my teeth and that I've let it get this bad. I'm afraid I'll have to get them all pulled and get dentures or something. I'm afraid of what my husband will think... Will he be disgusted??

I know that most of this is my parent's fault
. I would never have gotten to this point if they had taken me to a dentist like normal parents and bought me toothpaste, ffs. But now it's to the point where so much damage is done, I feel too much embarrassment to face a dentist.

Any advice or similar stories? Please help me with your words. Thanks.

I am so sorry first you went through that with your parents not taking you to the dentist. My parents did take me minimally but gave up in early teen years, never showed me about oral care or prompted me ,and I didn't really know how to care as I was stuck in body cast most of my younger years as i had brittle bone dieses. My mom also spoke words of shame over me as I reached my teenage years about my teeth "no one will ever want you, because of your teeth, you will never get a boyfriend, you will never get married , no man will want to go near you." she didn't help me she just mocked me.. but this was only the tip of iceberg to her emotional and verbal abuse..

Either way I didn't have much dental experience ,between early teen years and 30 yrs old when I found my first compassionate dentist, my teeth were quite awful and i would walk around so embarrassed with my hand over my mouth., I walked into her office like this . she showed me compassion and care , she would tell me, oh sweetie, you shouldn't have to cover your beautiful smile .... believe me the last thing i thought about my smile was it was beautiful.... and she built my trust over several appts . One appt she told me "I'm going to suggest something to you I think will help you alot.. she suggested to get rid of my bottom front teeth, the ones right in front and have partial denture.. even though there really wasn't much left of them, and they looked awful, it was a huge thought. She explained how it would look so much better and give me more confidence to smile . well.. I was having a job interview soon and she was leaving out of the country on vacation so she set up for her associates to do it. it all went smooth , they were very good with me too, it was the scariest thing going into the unknown. but I can honestly say those dentures definitely were better than my teeth I had and she really made me feel comfortable in the dental chair for the first time.

Have you made an appt yet? I hope you find a compassionate dentist good with patients who are anxious . this was 18 years ago for me and actually my teeth have yet declined, but now have once again got the motivation and have found another great caring Dentist who I am for the first time sharing about my fears and anxieties and shame. putting it out there on the table. its terrifying at times bringing this up.. but He has proven time and time again to not be judgmental but truly caring.. I believe as you take this journey you can find someone who can help you through this whole process in a very compassionate way. and don't settle for less!! I know there are those out there who are not either. Make sure they listen , want to understand you, have patience and can be compassionate. They are out there!!

We care about your journey , and wish you the best and look forward to hearing more.. good times or hard times..
Thank you for the response. No, I haven't made an appointment yet. Tbh, even though I have dental insurance, I know that the cost would be way more than what I could afford at the moment. I've had two bad years of medical issues, and with ridiculously high deductibles on my insurance, it's almost like not having insurance at all.

Do you have any knowledge of implants and if they can implant all or most of your teeth? I know that can be expensive as well.

I'm very sorry about how your mother treated you. Why some people have children, I'll never understand. Children should be loved and cherished. I'm also glad you got up the courage to overcome your fears and get some of the things taken care of. Your response has given me heart. And while I'm not happy that you've had to deal with any of this, it is comforting to know that I'm not alone in this. Thank you.

I am just about finished with my first implant I ever got ! I"m nearing the end. and it is expensive,thankfully my office has reasonable prices and a discount plan, i look forward to getting the final restoration within a few weeks , its been a process, but a very good one as I found an amazing dentist now that I just trust so much. lol even though my anxiety does still creep up on me , it makes it better when you find someone who is great! I'd be happy to share any specific question about my implant experience. i wish I could get them all done.. it does take alot longer than anything else and healing really varies. but i think it will be worth it :)

It does feel better to know we aren't alone, even though we don't wish our common experiences on anyone else. its when we isolate and turn inward and don't talk about it and think we are alone in our struggles and anxieties that it overtakes us.

What about going for a consult? many times those are no or low charge and you get to meet the Dr and get their vibe? see how compassionate they are. one step closer to getting work done..

Believe me I'm a single mom and i have a high deductable plan with limited dental coverage. with as much work as I need it doesn't go to far..but this year I am putting my teeth a priority and sacrificing other things. i lost one tooth, because I chickened out on a root canal on one tooth 3times lol then i had a crown fall off on another and that is what scared me and kicked me in gear , that was my final straw having that "one more" tooth come out.. and thankfully my new dentist was able to cement it in hoping it will last till the new year when insurance kicks in again.

There are alot of amazing people on here that will be happy to share their experiences and help you in your journey!!
Thank you. I have not scheduled a consult yet. I actually have three doctor appointments next week, and a full time job, so with my ongoing medical issues, it's hard to find time for yet another thing I know will end up with multiple appointments. That and the ongoing fear of the whole thing. I always told myself that if I ever needed surgery or whatever, that I would just rather die instead of someone sticking a tube down my throat for anesthesia and seeing my teeth. I stayed away from doctors for years as well, simply for fear of one if them wanting to look at my tonsils or mouth.

So far I've been lucky not to have lost any teeth. I have my wisdom teeth, which were a horror coming in. The sides of my face and cheeks were swollen and I couldn't eat much for weeks. This was when I was around 16. Even then, my parents would not take me to a doctor or dentist. Strange how parents can mess so much of your life up, merely through neglect.

I also have the habit of eating alot of acidic foods... The enamel on my teeth is pretty much non existent. You can see through the edges of them. I've learned to speak in a way that keeps people from really seeing the top set of my teeth. I actually studied actors and people on TV who don't seem to move their lips much when they talk.

All I know is that I'm tired of this life and I really need to do something. I have a phobia of needles and people being close to me or touching me (as far as being scrutinized... I don't even go to beauty parlors or spas because of the phobia).

I'm in the USA... I'm not sure how many dentists, if any will give you twilight anesthesia simply to give you the initial exam. But that's what I feel like I need to have happen. The thought of going makes me feel like crying and literally makes my chest tight like I'm going to have an anxiety attack.

Again, thank you for your candor and advice. I appreciate you.
Wow, I can't believe how much your parents (both sets) failed at parenting! Jenny, I agree, just going in to talk with a dentist, establish a relationship, would be a huge step. Maybe you could try calling around and just talking with the receptionists? A good compassionate dentist will have a very helpful, supportive and informative receptionist, and they can help you out a lot. You might be able to get a Valium or something to help you relax for any kind of exam. But I think just meeting and talking with one is the first step, and will make you feel so much better about things. Maybe you can't afford much right now, but having a plan moving forward would be really great.
A bit shocked that your parents keep the toothpaste in their bathroom and you had to buy your own.
I am right there with you on the shame part. Haven't been to the dentist for treatment ( other than wisdom teeth extractions) since I was 20, I am 33 now. I do however take my children to the dentist regularly because I do know it is important. I have my first appointment tomorrow for an evaluation and treatment plan and I am so anxious and scared. I know I should have taken better care of my teeth, especially after my parents spent almost $6000 on braces for my for 4 years. :cry: I am also facing gum disease on top of the 3 cavities that I KNOW about. Be brave and take it little by little as you can afford.. that is what I am trying to tell myself too.
My parents are from the old country. Having grown up during and after WWII going to the dentist was the last thing on their mind. That transpired to me growing up only seeing the dentist a couple of times as a kid and a couple of times in my teens. They actually thought the scraping of tartar was worse for my teeth. Again, they were uneducated on proper dental care so I don't blame them, they just didn't know. They were not abusive like some of the stories I'm reading here so I'm grateful but sad what some of you have been through. I got away with bone loss which resulted in gum loss. I basically have a skeleton smile. BUT after having a cardiac arrest at 42 and clinically dead only to be brought back to life by CPR and a defibrillator you learn to count your blessings. You can fix your smile! Get some counseling. It helps to talk to some one as you might need to after such a traumatic childhood. Then see what you can do with your smile. There isn't ALWAYS tomorrow but if you wake up, blink your eyes, take a breath, you can do something.