College Bound and Never Had a Filling (Yet)

C

CollegeBound

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I am an 18 years old, and have 14 cavities. Although I brush better now, I didn't as a child. I have to have these filled. At my last dentist appointment, there were words like root canal and extraction tossed around. I have only been to the dentist for cleanings, and those make me nervous also. Just thinking about going to the dentist again gives me nightmares (literally). What should I do to at least help with the anxiety? Advice will be appreciated :)
 
brit

brit

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If you cannot see these cavities yourself, I would get a second opinion before going ahead with any treatment. If you have been attending regularly for cleanings, it beggars belief that you would suddenly have 14 cavities.

 
M

mbc350

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Hello, and welcome to the forum! Sorry that you have to have such extensive dental work done. Ask around to find a friendly dentist who works well w/ apprehensive patients; I'm sure you'll find one who's dealt w/ problems like this before. Discuss your fears w/ them, and ask what anti-anxiety medications they can prescribe or recommend. In fact, before any operation, inquire whether they give nitrous oxide to calm your nerves. Do you have any fears or phobias regarding specific procedures, etc.? God bless.
 
C

CollegeBound

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Thank you for replying! I was never a regular at the dentist, so that may be why they recently detected these problems. I have explored this site quite a bit, and it has helped. I talk to my best friend about my anxiety, and that has helped. I guess my biggest fear is of the unknown, because I have never had to have injections in my mouth, nor anything more than a simple cleaning. After reading some sections of this site, and researching some other sites, I have a better understanding about being afraid. Again, thanks for replying!
 
C

CollegeBound

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If you cannot see these cavities yourself, I would get a second opinion before going ahead with any treatment. If you have been attending regularly for cleanings, it beggars belief that you would suddenly have 14 cavities.
I don't know how to reply to you because there wasn't a reply button under your comment, but here it is. I do see these cavities, so I know they are not lying. I do not attend regular cleanings, so that may be why I have so many. Thank you again for responding!
 
M

mbc350

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Thank you for replying! I was never a regular at the dentist, so that may be why they recently detected these problems. I have explored this site quite a bit, and it has helped. I talk to my best friend about my anxiety, and that has helped. I guess my biggest fear is of the unknown, because I have never had to have injections in my mouth, nor anything more than a simple cleaning. After reading some sections of this site, and researching some other sites, I have a better understanding about being afraid. Again, thanks for replying!

That's awesome; you're doing great and making excellent progress :jump:! I'm glad your friend has helped you, and there are plenty of other people on here to help you as well. There's nothing to worry about. Injections can be performed painlessly, and sometimes all you feel is a little pinch. They put on numbing gel beforehand, which helps. Again, discuss your fears & concerns w/ your dentist, and they can reassure & comfort you and describe what to expect in the process. I described injections in more detail in other posts (although I don't remember which ones), so if you want, I can post it here also. I believe it will definitely help you out if you want to read it :).
 
C

CollegeBound

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Thank you for replying! If you want to post the description I will for sure read it. I have noticed that there are a lot of supportive people on here that don't judge, and I am very grateful for that!
 
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M

mbc350

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Thank you for replying! If you want to post the description I will for sure read it. I have noticed that there are a lot of supportive people on here that don't judge, and I am very grateful for that!

Certainly, will be glad to do so. You're right, other members on here aren't judgmental but very supportive. Here's the description:

It's okay, in fact, even normal, to have fears, because that shows you're human, and you start to overcome them by first acknowledging & confronting them. It's just that we don't want to dwell on them too much and allow them to dominate our minds because that's not healthy. However, there's nothing wrong with experiencing anxiety per se. Don't worry, you're doing great, and you're going to be just fine :p!

As far as needles go, allow me to share some important advice & tips that I believe will help you out tremendously :). Please note that I'm not a dentist, only a patient; but this info. is based on my experiences, what I've researched on the Internet, and the comments other kind & thoughtful members posted on the Dental Fear Central forum. Everyone's perception of pain is somewhat different, so it's not easy to measure it objectively, but as you'll find out, you'll be pleasantly surprised by how comfortable the procedure can be.

First off, before you receive a dental injection (which isn't required for every single visit but is necessary only for certain procedures such as fillings), they may administer some nitrous oxide to calm your nerves & relax you, and you can ask around to find out which dentists offer this service. (I've never had it, but it sounds like a Godsend.) Next, the assistant will place a soft cotton swab with a topical numbing gel onto your gums for at least a couple of minutes. This will numb the surface tissue before they do the actual injection. If they don't provide the gel at the outset, don't be afraid to ask for it; they'll definitely help you out w/ that! Sometimes they just forget to apply it, so you may have to remind them politely!

After that, the hardest part comes next :(, but don't fear, you'll get thru this stage, and it'll be over before you know it :rolleyes:. The dentist will slowly & gently perform the injection, which doesn't last very long. (While you're lying in the chair, it's easy to lose perception of time
:hmm:, so a few moments can seem like a long time, but don't get distressed!) Before you get too anxious about this step, you can be assured that a competent & caring dentist will be very gentle and can give an injection painlessly (or almost so). They use sharp, thin, 27- or 30-gauge needles. (The higher the number, the thinner the needle, which makes for a comfortable injection.) While a sharp needle may sound painful, it's quite the opposite: a sharp needle will easily penetrate & pass thru the tissues, whereas by contrast, a dull needle will cause more pain. This is why after use, a dentist will remove the needle from the syringe and dispose of the needle entirely.

This is where the numbing gel (mentioned above) comes into effect. Thankfully, it minimizes the feeling from the initial prick of the needle. (Some patients report they don't feel a thing at all :D.) Even w/o the gel, the needle causes only a mild, short pinching sensation, but it's still great to have the gel in place beforehand. Don't worry; the dentist will delicately advance the needle into the tissues, which may produce just a small amount of discomfort, perhaps 1-2 sec. It seems that the most sensitive spot is on the surface, so once the needle is properly positioned beneath the surface, regardless of how deep it's inserted (which for most injections is a shallow depth), it won't hurt anymore. Trust me, it's not bad at all. In fact, the dentist may wiggle or shake your lip or cheek to distract you from the pinch where you may not even notice it.

Most importantly, the dentist will give you a slow injection, which is the most crucial step. A quick injection will produce more pain because the medication is being rapidly forced into your mouth, which can tear the tissues and cause unnecessary soreness. A slow injection will be a lotmore comfortable, which should take 2-3 mins. max. Gradually, you'll feel that part of your mouth start to go numb, like it's "gone to sleep." If the dentist has to re-inject in the same general area to numb it further, you shouldn't feel it since your mouth will already be numb. Avoid the negative connotation associated w/ words like "shot" and instead think of the liquid as gradually & gently sinking in, drop by drop. Also, picture the syringe as an instrument of healing
:redface:, which is what it really is; and the hollowed needle is nothing more than an avenue or method of delivery for the medicine.

To cope with the process, I would suggest closing your eyes, taking slow & deep breaths, and thinking about something else (e.g., a pleasant vacation at the beach :cool:) or listening to music on an mp3 player (with the volume low enough that you can still hear the dentist talking to you). The reason I suggest keeping your eyes closed is so that you won't see the needle & freak out! It looks like a scary tool
:scared:, but believe me, it's not painful :nod:. Your dentist may talk to you during this time to distract you further, but even if he/she doesn't, you'll still be fine. Try not to worry about it too much. The dentist isn't the enemy, but rather your friend :grin:because they want to help you by performing a valuable service for you, and the biggest obstacle is in your mind, so it's mostly psychological; but once you've walked into the room and sat in the chair, you'll realize you've made such great strides and feel proud of your achievement! Make the effort to look beyond any minor discomfort you may experience at the beginning and focus on the end result of anesthesia: complete numbness, which is better than having no anesthetic at all! You can overcome this hurdle like others (including myself) have, and in the end, you'll have a wonderful success story to tell :jump:!

Finally, remember to cooperate kindly w/ the dentist by holding still and following all their instructions. If you feel any pain :o during the drilling part, etc., raise your hand immediately
:stop: to signal the dentist to stop right away so they can give you more numbing solution. (You may want to discuss stop signals w/ your dentist beforehand so they'll know what to look for.) As long as you're numbed sufficiently, you won't feel any pain during the remainder of the operation. It's important to trust the dental staff entirely because they're professionals, they've done this before, and most likely they've been doing it for a long time.

Ironically, for a long time, I had a difficult time believing for myself everything I just told you. As a young child, I had some basic dental work done at different appointments, and each time, I hated the needles. Again, my dentist wasn't mean or harsh at all. (In fact, after the operations, he bragged on me to my mom and stated I "did great.") It's just that I didn't want to feel any pain, even though in actuality it was mild & tolerable. As a kid, I didn't think of pain in terms of degree like adults do, but I just didn't want to experience it at all :cry:! Thankfully, it was recently that on here I was able to overcome my fears because when I asked how injections were, others replied that they were painless, which made me feel so relieved :D! (You can check out my other posts if you'd like.)

Personally, I don't think I've dealt w/ dental phobia in an extreme or technical sense, but like other patients, I've felt a moderate level of anxiety, which is perfectly fine. In fact, before I go to the office, I usually take prescription Ativan to put me at ease. Take heart, you're in very good company here, and we'll help you along the way
:XXLhug:. God bless.

 
C

CollegeBound

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Jun 18, 2014
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482
Wow! That was very in depth! I love the smiley faces! :grin: I really appreciate that you were upfront with me and that you took the time to answer me! My friends don't quite understand why I am afraid of this sort of stuff, but they do their best! It helps to hear from another patient that has experience. It is almost like having a senior mentor! LOL! I probably won't go until July because I am getting ready to leave for college in August, and we have a TON of weddings and other stuff, but it is on my to-do list before I leave.
I would rather not use laughing gas if I can keep from it, because I know myself enough to realize that I will use that as a crutch rather than get over my fear head on. One of my biggest reasons for wanting to not be afraid anymore is because I never want my (future) children to be afraid of getting the healthcare that they need, and I know that I will have to be a role model for them to follow. This will also be true for when I become a teacher (I am going to college to become a special education teacher). I want to be a good role model and be able to help others overcome their fears and face them head on, whether they are afraid of the dentist or anything else.
Again, thank you! Your rock!:bounces:
 
L

lawlcano

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May 5, 2014
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42
The previous poster pretty much said it all, but I figured I'd throw my 2 cents in.

I'm 32, and until a couple months ago I hadn't been to the dentist in 17 years, since I was 15. In that 17 year absence, I had 9 fillings that needed to be taken care of. I had them done in groups of 3, so 3 appointments total. I had them all done within a week of each other. It's NOTHING like I was fearing. Since I was having so many fillings at one time, the dentist would basically numb an entire quadrant of my mouth. Lots of injections, but numbing gel was applied generously beforehand, and the injections weren't bad at all! I felt a little pinching, especially on the roof of my mouth. But nothing intolerable, I could barely feel it!

The drilling you can't feel at all once numbed. On my 2nd visit he didn't numb me quite enough before getting down to business. As soon as he started drilling I felt a little twinge, so I stopped him. He went back in with the needle, which I didn't feel whatsoever this time around.

My appointments consisted mainly of sitting in the chair waiting to for the numbness to kick in. After the numbing shots, he left for a bit to tend to other patients while I waited.

The drilling and filling part was a fraction of the total time. Even getting 3 fillings done per appointment, I was in and out the door in a little over an hour, a good 60% of that is spent with the dentist NOT in your mouth.

Basically I'm here to say that I understand your fears because I felt them too. But after going through with the work, I have no idea what I was so worried about!
 
C

CollegeBound

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Jun 18, 2014
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482
Thank you very much for sharing this with me! I am glad that you got through it without much fear. I will keep this in mind! ;)
 
M

mbc350

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Feb 26, 2014
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Wow! That was very in depth! I love the smiley faces! :grin: I really appreciate that you were upfront with me and that you took the time to answer me! My friends don't quite understand why I am afraid of this sort of stuff, but they do their best! It helps to hear from another patient that has experience. It is almost like having a senior mentor! LOL! I probably won't go until July because I am getting ready to leave for college in August, and we have a TON of weddings and other stuff, but it is on my to-do list before I leave.
I would rather not use laughing gas if I can keep from it, because I know myself enough to realize that I will use that as a crutch rather than get over my fear head on. One of my biggest reasons for wanting to not be afraid anymore is because I never want my (future) children to be afraid of getting the healthcare that they need, and I know that I will have to be a role model for them to follow. This will also be true for when I become a teacher (I am going to college to become a special education teacher). I want to be a good role model and be able to help others overcome their fears and face them head on, whether they are afraid of the dentist or anything else.
Again, thank you! Your rock!:bounces:

Thank you for the thoughtful comments; I'm glad I could help. I wouldn't necessarily refuse the nitrous oxide because that helps you relax, although deep breathing helps also. My dentist doesn't offer laughing gas, but before any appointment, I take prescription Ativan to fight off anxiety (mainly on a physiological level). I haven't had dental work in over a decade, but I still feel mildly anxious whenever I go for check-ups, which is why I take medication to help me remain calm.

My dentist is a great professional who works well with patients, and I've been seeing him over 25 years. However, whenever I was a young child, I used to hate going, esp. for dental work. He wasn't mean or anything, but psychologically I became more worked up than I should have. I initially wrote the previous post in another column as a way not only to help others but myself as well. In fact, sometimes I'll go back and reread it to remind myself that dentistry can be a pleasant experience, so it's self-therapeutic.

That's good you want to be a good role model for your future children and students. There's nothing like experience that can help others overcome their fears and get thru problems in life. Good luck on your education.
 
M

mbc350

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Joined
Feb 26, 2014
Messages
40
The previous poster pretty much said it all, but I figured I'd throw my 2 cents in.

I'm 32, and until a couple months ago I hadn't been to the dentist in 17 years, since I was 15. In that 17 year absence, I had 9 fillings that needed to be taken care of. I had them done in groups of 3, so 3 appointments total. I had them all done within a week of each other. It's NOTHING like I was fearing. Since I was having so many fillings at one time, the dentist would basically numb an entire quadrant of my mouth. Lots of injections, but numbing gel was applied generously beforehand, and the injections weren't bad at all! I felt a little pinching, especially on the roof of my mouth. But nothing intolerable, I could barely feel it!

The drilling you can't feel at all once numbed. On my 2nd visit he didn't numb me quite enough before getting down to business. As soon as he started drilling I felt a little twinge, so I stopped him. He went back in with the needle, which I didn't feel whatsoever this time around.

My appointments consisted mainly of sitting in the chair waiting to for the numbness to kick in. After the numbing shots, he left for a bit to tend to other patients while I waited.

The drilling and filling part was a fraction of the total time. Even getting 3 fillings done per appointment, I was in and out the door in a little over an hour, a good 60% of that is spent with the dentist NOT in your mouth.

Basically I'm here to say that I understand your fears because I felt them too. But after going through with the work, I have no idea what I was so worried about!

Thank you for your feedback as well. That's great you were able to get thru your appts. w/ no problems. Hopefully others will read this and become encouraged.
 
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