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Awful Teeth And Awful Fear

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Former member 28418

Former Member
I am absolutely terrified that when the dentist starts poking around I’ll feel that familiar sharp jab. I don’t take very good care of my teeth and I know if he starts using the sharp little tool I’ll experience agony. What can I tell him to explain what’s happening?
 
I went to the dentist yesterday after years (over 5!) away and I told them right away that I was anxious and scared but that I was really making an effort to take care of it now, and they were fantastic. I recommend being very honest about your fears and in my case, she was very gentle and talked to me throughout. When she moved from one tool, to the next, she told me why. She cleaned around each tooth and when she had to scrape near the bottom front, she told me I'd feel some pressure and her tool didn't pinch my gums at all, she was very skilled.

Honesty helped me, and I definitely recommend it.
 
I am absolutely terrified that when the dentist starts poking around I’ll feel that familiar sharp jab. I don’t take very good care of my teeth and I know if he starts using the sharp little tool I’ll experience agony. What can I tell him to explain what’s happening?

Actually tell him exactly this!! it really does help.. I remember one of the first things I told my dentist is "I'm really afraid of you dropping something down my throat".. that was my number one fear... and from the get go he got it and has done everything to reassure be and be extremely cautious and when putting pieces in and out of my mouth.. along with every other fear I've told him,, just putting it straight out there.. you will really find out if they are worthy of trust .. because they will either react well and be really helpful and compassionate or.. if they don't react nicely.. you can know to find someone who does. I really hope they will be kind and good to you . :)
 
Hi aaronej20,

I can only join the 'tell him exactly that'-club. If you, in your past, had made the experience of a dentist using the probe (that's how that tool is called) in a painful way, it's understandable that you are afraid of it. I am sure your dentist will have understanding for that.

If this is you first exam at a new practice, chances are, that your dentist can put off the use of this tool a bit and just use the mirror at first.

By the way, there is a great explanation about the probe in the dental FAQ here on the site (you can find the whole article which describes what happens during a check-up here: https://www.dentalfearcentral.org/faq/check-up/)

The Explorer

Why does the dentist want to poke at my teeth?
The dental ‘probe’ or ‘explorer’ can be used by your dentist to gently feel the bumps and valleys on the surface of the tooth. If the dentist notices any ‘tackiness’ on the surface of the tooth, it might be a soft area which would indicate decay is present.

Unfortunately these areas of early decay may not show up on an x-ray. So although it is perfectly reasonable for you as a patient to request that the dentist should not ‘poke at your teeth’, the dentist may feel that a full check-up has not been completed until he/she can. Maybe you can reach a compromise and ask that the dentist be as gentle as possible when touching your teeth with the explorer.

A lot of people are scared of the probe because for years, the ‘gold standard’ for checking for decay was to stick the probe in and give it a good shove! We now recognise that using too much force can compromise the tooth structure of an early lesion that has the potential to remineralise. While the explorer may still have to be used to figure out if decay is present, it is used much more gently nowadays.

All the best wishes, let us know how your exam went and appologies for this post being about ten times longer than your original question. :cool:
 
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