• Dental Phobia Support

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afraid of decay, and shame



Well-known member
Jul 22, 2012
New Hampshire, USA
Hi everyone,

Long time member popping in, because I have a cleaning on Monday morning.

I did fine for years, got my teeth cleaned 4x every year. . .then at my last cleaning, he found one of my fillings had a small gap in it, and said I'd have to get it filled. It took every ounce of courage, but I asked him to do it right away because I knew if I left, I'd have a very hard time forcing myself to go back again. He is a very nice dentist, and he knew it was a big deal for me, so he fit me in right away. I even sent him a thank you card when I sent in the bill payment.

I've always had trouble with my self-image related to my teeth; if someone finds decay in me (in my teeth) then I feel like it's because there's something wrong with ME, inside, like I'm a bad person or rotten inside. . .I know it sounds crazy, but it's been like this for as long as I remember.

Anyways, I was able to handle the last 'filling' because it wasn't really decay, it was just a flaw in the filling material. . .but now the thought of going back again has me very upset because I worry that they will see decay, and all those bad feelings and shame will come back and I can't describe this fear very well. . .it's easy to explain a fear of needles, or the drill, but fearing decay because I worry it's symbolic is a lot weirder and I don't think he'd get it, and I don't think I could even try to explain it because I'd just break down anyways.

Does anyone else have this issue, or is my self-esteem just that low?
I think if you had decay your dentist would have seen it
@shamrockerinim sorry you feel that way! I know it’s hard, but could you shift your mindset a bit more to that you’re being proactive about your dental care since you’re getting a cleaning? Keep in mind you‘ll hopefully be preventing any major work by getting these check ups. You’re not dirty, some people literally just struggle with dental issues in life. I wish I’d taken better care of my teeth and didn’t let my fears interfere with that but I have to make a choice not to dwell on it and move forward. You’ve got this, hang in there!! Let that shame go, no Dentist would want you feeling that way either!
I have this exact same thing, I believe. I mean getting my wisdom teeth removed was ok because it wasn't my fault, but getting fillings (and one root canal) is something that I blame myself constantly about. Every time I think about my teeth, and often when I look at them, I feel like I have completely failed and am doing something wrong, even though I really take care of my teeth.

I think it's something deep-rooted, and has to do with general self image honestly. I am so sorry that you are going through this because when it's happening, it is so overconsuming and you start to feel like you've failed everything, if it's similar to mine. I usually feel like I have failed my own health and want to start all over again, because no one else in their 20s who has tried to maintain good oral health has this shit of a situation.

And decay is the worst, I am afraid how I will survive when I'm older if it already makes me this terrified now. But I think it's much about the permanence of teeth (I wouldn't be too worried about gaining weight because I know that if I wanted to, I am able to lose weight back to this current weight, but with teeth - once they are gone they are gone) when it comes to anxiety and shame regarding them.