• Dental Phobia Support

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Can't even think about seeing a dentist, beyond phobia at this point its terror



Junior member
Jun 3, 2020
I have developed such a severe phobia of anything having to do with the dentist, just thinking of it right now has me shaking and crying and its very hard to breathe. The last time I saw a dentist was something like 12 years ago or even longer. I have tried to get it together and even have some dentists who have been highly recommended but I freeze and can't even make the call. I don't understand this because I had biannual cleanings and checkups as a kid, I even had braces for awhile and remember the trips were frequent, I even spent time working in a dentists office as a teenager, it was a relatives practice. Meanwhile, I know that I have problems and they are going to get worse. Right now I am getting bits of a crown disintegrating or something, feels like sand in my mouth and really want to have the hygienist scrub and polish my teeth, but can't get my body to cooperate and it just is like I shut down and I just don't even want to see or talk to anyone for a day or 2. Advice??
Hi Suddenlyscared :welcome:,

first of all, give yourself a pat on the back for reaching out and writing here. It sounds like even touching the topic in this way causes you a huge amount of distress and making yourself to write and think about it anyway is a great first step. I see a sense of confusion about where does this come from and it certainly might help if you were able to figure it out, but if you can't then it's fine.
Tackling dental fear works best in small steps and at your pace. If you currently find it hard to even think about it, then making a call would be like jumping on a train that goes too fast. Take your time and don't push yourself into anything you can't cope with at the moment. I promise you that things will get a bit easier gradually.

For now simply trying to get used to the thought of seeing a dentist somewhere in the future sounds like enough work. You might want to think of what it is that feels so threatening when you think of doing that call or about what you feel might help you to move forward. If you need to cry or take a moment to calm down, that's fine, it's all a part of the process.

Many people think of scheduling as the next logical thing when dealing with dental phobia, while in reality that is the biggest and scariest thing for the most. There is enough inner work to do to get to the stage and the time needed to struggle through that phase is different for everyone, so don't beat yourself up if you need a bit of time to get there.

All the best wishes and keep us posted
I just wanted to say that dental phobias do not always stem from traumatic dental experiences. Sometimes they are indirectly related to something else such as abuse or a prior assault....I’m not making any assumptions but it’s just something to consider. Do you have specific fears surrounding making an appointment?
Well, please at least go to the initial consultation to speak with the staff... they are there to help, and as an adult you always have the opportunity to back out or not go through with something later if you must.

Let them know you are anxious. At any rate a good cleaning will feel good, and that initial appointment you can learn to trust them.

Maybe you get a clean bill of health except some minor repair to address your problem. It could be as simple as a little bonding and or polishing...
Hi suddenlyscared :welcome: ,

the wisdom teeth extraction experience when you were a teenager which you described in your other post sounds very traumatic - not only on a physical level (though that part sounded traumatic enough on its own!), but also emotionally, with wild accusations being levelled at you.

Nobody can blame you for feeling the way you feel - such traumatic experiences don't simply go away. Instead, the fear can grow stronger and stronger over the years. Talking about it with someone who is supportive (either good friends or a counsellor or psychologists) can often help.

It's great that you've got recommendations for dentists already - it can be really helpful to contact them beforehand and let them know how you feel. Many people find it much easier to establish this initial contact by writing (email or Facebook). We've got a series of interviews with dentists, where they give tips on how to best approach this with your dentists. You can find the interviews here:

Hi Suddenlyscared, welcome to the forum! Kudos for posting, and know you are not alone in this phobia. It is debilitating. You remind me a lot of myself. I came to this forum 8 years ago looking for support to make an appointment. I couldn’t even watch toothpaste commercial and would run away from any conversation mentioned dentist.

Here’s my first thread, if it helps you: https://www.dentalfearcentral.org/f...-of-not-going-equals-the-fear-of-going.13834/
And second: https://www.dentalfearcentral.org/f...ment-and-i-need-help.27271/page-2#post-202387
And journal: https://www.dentalfearcentral.org/forum/threads/thisismyjournal-thisisme.27524/page-6#post-212258

It’s a process and you will go when you are ready. Posting here is a huge step and takes a ton of courage. I understand that shut down feeling all too well. Today, just be proud of yourself for posting.

You got such good advice and thoughts here already, but wanted to say I"m really glad you wrote and put yourself out there writing as hard as it is.. I also read your first post and that definately seems traumatic the expereriences you've been through. Who would blame you for being just frozen and your body not wanting to think about going.

I know for me, I have seen a psychologist for anxiety , it is situational and trauma based anxiety and I learned that my trauma response is freeze most commonly. if I'm experiencing trauma I can't move , I just freeze in mind and body.. and I imagine for you even, just thinking about going or calling if you had this freeze response it would be totally reasonable. sometimes with dental I've had flight response too, meaning, staying far away from or... literally taking off to the bathroom and not returning to the chair if I don't feel safe. I've had alot of dental and other trauma in life so this is just how I respond.

Trauma is real whether dental or not. and I can't label yours but if that was my experience I would definately say it was trauma like @letsconnect mentioned. also,, just personally what @kitkat mentioned about any other abuse or trauma triggering at the dental experience is true for me and many others so dental avoidance and fear can be triggered by so much. I completely agree with @Enarete too , take small steps..

Have you seen this particular hygenist before? or would you go to a new one? I encourage you too take small steps and we are here for you to process all this. Its huge . and I hope you can get your concerns cared for soon in a compassionate and very patient way!