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Crying at the dentist



Junior member
Jun 14, 2018
I guess I just want some reassurance that I'm not the biggest pain the butt ever.

I live in a country where I don't speak the local language, and my dentist speaks pretty good but not flawless English.

I went in for a toothache, but didn't take diazepam beforehand as I usually do because I didn't think there'd be a procedure, just a diagnostic thing. When she started to describe what was needed (root canal) and told me the whole procedure, I ended up shaking and crying.

I felt so guilty, making her speak English, and then crying in her office, I feel like I must have been so annoying. My situation is always so complicated (I'm terrified, I'm only available one day a week, I can't use penicillin, I can't use erythromycin, I can't use laughing gas, I'm a pain to x-ray, the list goes on...) and I hate worrying that I'm just that person who she sees on her schedule and it ruins her day. She's so nice, and I hate being such a bother.

The crying just really made me feel bad... so I'm wondering, is this more common than I imagine? Do other people cry too, so maybe it's not that big of a deal? And what do dentists think about it when we cry? Do they get annoyed or angry, even if they don't show it?
I have had a nightmare year with my teeth, and have gone from previously not being bothered by the dentist (and not needing any work for over ten years) to being really anxious. I have cried numerous times in the surgery, not because I am scared of the treatment, but because I am so worried about what's coming next. My dentist has been really kind and supportive, and I am sure she sees people crying every day. I think being compassionate and caring is as big a part of being a dentist or other medical professional as being technically skilled at doing fillings or root canals or whatever else.
Oh, and just to add, I was at the dentist (honestly, I swear this is true) 48 times last year, so the biggest pain in the butt ever.
Don't worry you're not the biggest pain in the butt ever!

When I went in for my first check up in years, like literally years (I was 24, hadn't been since I had super bad tooth ache about 5 years before) I put my bag down on the chair, the dentist said "now then Nicola" and I burst into tears and told her how scared I was. And that was only for a check up! Then I was a bit teary when I had a filling but she was fine and really reassuring. Then I had to go to a different dentist to have a consultation about getting implants. As soon as I got in there I cried and then when he asked me what had happened with my teeth I cried again.

I think they are kinda used to it its part of their job isn't it? I know what you mean though, you do feel like a massive inconvenience... I always feel super annoying because I like knowing exactly whats going on as well and I'm like 'what will this feel like?' 'how long will that take?' I want all the answers and like being talked through every part of the procedure whatever I'm having...

But I just think it's part of their job to make us feel calmer and help us when we are anxious or concerned and if they make us feel better then that probably makes them feel good too :)
Everybody needs to see a dentist regularly, ideally this happens twice a year, even if no treatment is needed.

Now imagine how many different people there are - some have physical conditions, some take multiple medications that need to get considered, some cannot control their movements due to a desease. Some are old, some are young, some are disabled. Some are anxious and show it through tears, some are anxious and show it through arrogance, some are anxious and show it through not talking at all. Some are kind people, some are not very kind. There are people from different cultures, some speak the language of the dentist well, some do not speak it at all. And the dedication of a dental care professional is to help all these people and treat them. And sometimes this is very easy and sometimes it can get challenging, like in any profession and this is what makes the job interesting.

I asked my dentist about crying once. He told me not to worry about this, it would be a very unusual week in a practice without some tears.

You would be surprised how many nervous patients assume being the worst patients ever and I bet you aren't it. The really annoying people are not the ones who cry or have medical conditions that need to be considered or who call when they have a problem or who have fears. The only really annoying people are the one that behave in an unkind and respect-less way.

Another thing to consider, as Nicolacullen suggests: just think of how good it feels to help someone to feel better. To calm someone down. To help someone to overcome an obstacle. And how rewarding would it feel to do this on regular basis?

There is a good post from comfortdentist, one of the dentists on this forum. Back then it helped me to get an idea what kind of crazy things dentists might experience in their job, maybe it will help you too: https://www.dentalfearcentral.org/forum/threads/fear-of-rejection-and-shame.23629/
I have probably cried about 10 times over the years and make a joke about it by warning the dentist and his staff that "my eyes sometimes leak", and they can just ignore it.
I'm sure we've all had a meltdown at some point I think its more a case of its rather embarressing+you'd rather not do that in front of people you don't know but it happens,I'm sure their used to it.
I have cried at my last 3 or 4 dental appointments. I think most dentists have some sympathy or are at least understanding. More people probably cry at the dentist than you think.
My heart goes out to anyone who finds themselves in this situation (including dentists and their support staff). I was very lucky to be looked after by a very kind and compassionate bengali guy for a while when I lived in Surrey (UK). I have written about him previously on this site and given him and his practice a big plug in the "recommendations" section (the practice is called Gypsy Lane and is in Early near Reading UK for anyone who sees this and wants to research further). The lovely dentist had me in for a deep clean under sedation at the time, and just before I went in I broke down in reception. Bless him, he came over and hugged me and reassured me that all would be fine (and of course it was). What a star - I still miss him and wish he was near enough to still continue with. To cut to the point there are loads of amazing people out there who really do care and want to help. The hardest part is finding them. As I have mentioned before - be honest and if a dentist is worth their salt, they will help and support you - and do not worry if you do break down as doubtless the dentist will have experienced this numerous times before.
What's wrong with crying?