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Defeating Dental anxiety (again?)

J

JaySee19

Member
Joined
Jun 17, 2020
Messages
84
Location
Germany
It‘s amazing to follow your journey and to see you realising how much improvement you made, to see you growing and learning yourself better. I am a huge believer that conquering dental fear has an impact on the overall self-confidence and ability to cope with difficulties in many other areas of life too.

Glad you can keep your appointment today. Let us know how it went :)
I would feel a lot better about my current progress if I hadn’t been in a similar situation before. “Seemingly“ conquering dental anxiety, getting everything sorted, then going regularly for check ups for about 13 years. And then suddenly letting my fear get the better of me - and stopping
(again for about 13 years - very odd!). Even worse, letting things get bad again and slipping back into being terrified. I really want to break this cycle. Well, I can’t afford not to because some of my teeth won’t survive if I go back to my old habits.
On the other hand I also hate being obsessed by all things dental when I’m in a treatment phase. It seems it’s all I can think about - and that’s not healthy either.
It would be nice to have a normal relationship with “the dentist”.
 
J

JaySee19

Member
Joined
Jun 17, 2020
Messages
84
Location
Germany
The appointment went OK. It somehow wasn’t what I expected and just seemed to be a variant on a normal clean (but no polishing). The hygienist did it, no jabs, just topical local anaesthetic, which was fine. I find cleanings brutal, the scraping and scratching, I always think my poor enamel is being gouged to death, and if any teeth were loose I’m sure they’d be falling out after a clean. Plus so many teeth feel sensitive when she’s poking and spraying away, sort of “sick” sensitive, as if they’re going to turn into full blown carious tooth-ache. And that always worries me - maybe the dentist has overlooked heaps of cavities. That feeling doesn’t last long, but I almost prefer fillings (or even root canals!) to cleans.
On the other hand my gums seem to be settling down, as the interdental brushes I’m supposed to use are now 2 sizes larger than 6 weeks ago. She didn’t believe it herself and had to look back over her notes, and then double check on my teeth. My gums may have been swollen 6 weeks ago.
So, all in all OK. I hope it works. And I would have liked to have seen the dentist because there are a number of things I want to ask! Like, when are we going to tackle that crown that needs doing?
 
T

thisisme

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 17, 2012
Messages
308
The appointment went OK. It somehow wasn’t what I expected and just seemed to be a variant on a normal clean (but no polishing). The hygienist did it, no jabs, just topical local anaesthetic, which was fine. I find cleanings brutal, the scraping and scratching, I always think my poor enamel is being gouged to death, and if any teeth were loose I’m sure they’d be falling out after a clean. Plus so many teeth feel sensitive when she’s poking and spraying away, sort of “sick” sensitive, as if they’re going to turn into full blown carious tooth-ache. And that always worries me - maybe the dentist has overlooked heaps of cavities. That feeling doesn’t last long, but I almost prefer fillings (or even root canals!) to cleans.
On the other hand my gums seem to be settling down, as the interdental brushes I’m supposed to use are now 2 sizes larger than 6 weeks ago. She didn’t believe it herself and had to look back over her notes, and then double check on my teeth. My gums may have been swollen 6 weeks ago.
So, all in all OK. I hope it works. And I would have liked to have seen the dentist because there are a number of things I want to ask! Like, when are we going to tackle that crown that needs doing?
I hate the cleaning too. I would much rather have a filling or even simple extraction than have a cleaning. It’s so long and uncomfortable. Scraping teeth with metal? Nope. Kudos on doing it! Another step taken on your journey!
 
J

JaySee19

Member
Joined
Jun 17, 2020
Messages
84
Location
Germany
I had another check up today after the deep cleaning. I have changed my teeth cleaning routine somewhat and have been really good over the last 3 weeks. Having decided I want to keep my teeth after all, I need to make a bit more of an effort. On the other hand it was 13 years since my last cleaning, so I must have been doing something right because I got off very lightly.
I wasn’t nervous about this appointment at all. OK I slept badly last night, but it didn’t loom and dominate my life as the previous appointments did. And I don’t really know why. Cleanings are as horrible as fillings for me and all the triggers are there, dentists chair, sights, sounds, smells, vulnerability. I suppose it must be the procedures that are done - after all a cleaning is not doing anything irreversible to my teeth, fillings, extractions (God forbid), crowns, root canals are all pretty invasive - maybe that’s what scares me. I need to think about this.
And guess what, the hygienist told me things were looking good. She couldn’t see any problems. I have one spot between my upper molars that is still sore and insists on bleeding regularly so she squirted some stuff in there, but she, herself, couldn’t see it. Otherwise I don’t even need to come back for a second check-up (which is part of the treatment plan for gum disease in Germany).
I was very relieved. Again I have got off so lightly and everything could be so much worse. My immune system has done me proud most of my life and I very rarely need to take any form of medication. When I do have to use medication - or in this case industrial strength mouthwash (well, that’s what it tasted like!) - it tends to work brilliantly. I am very grateful.
I still have to get a crown on my root-canalled tooth, so the next appointment is to discuss that. I shouldn’t be too nervous for that either.
Am I really going to get things under control this time round?
 
J

JaySee19

Member
Joined
Jun 17, 2020
Messages
84
Location
Germany
Yesterday I saw my actual dentist for the first time in 2 months. My understanding was we were to discuss the way forward and next steps. Chiefly with regard to a root-canalled tooth which needs a crown. Discussion for me does not mean sitting in a dentist’s chair with your mouth wide open. His understanding was somewhat different and did involve me sitting in ...... well you get the drift. He wanted to see how things had progressed over the last couple of months which meant probing around my gums, tapping my teeth and looking more closely at areas that have not so far been in focus - which was a bit perplexing. And I’m pretty sure he’s not happy with the state of an ancient crown (nearly 30 years since it was done!). There’s also still some infection round the gum of the RCTed tooth.
I couldn’t pin him down though when we actually got to the discussion bit. When I asked him about the state of the crown he’d examined so painstakingly he went all chatty and related a number of anecdotes from his working day. It was all very interesting, but completely irrelevant. And he wouldn’t be drawn, I couldn’t get a straight answer out of him! But I learnt a lot about another patient‘s implant and gum disease and dealing with insurance companies.
The situation was actually quite funny. My previous dentists have never been ones for small-talk, pure efficiency, the occasional grunt (slightly exaggerated) was the best I could hope for, so the current one is something different and he is very effective at putting me at ease. Which can only be a good thing.
I’ll probably get my answers at the next appointment when there are going to be more x-rays and decisions will be made. It is a wee bit frustrating that things are moving so slowly, on the other hand there is no point in rushing things if an infection is still around.
 
T

thisisme

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 17, 2012
Messages
308
Yesterday I saw my actual dentist for the first time in 2 months. My understanding was we were to discuss the way forward and next steps. Chiefly with regard to a root-canalled tooth which needs a crown. Discussion for me does not mean sitting in a dentist’s chair with your mouth wide open. His understanding was somewhat different and did involve me sitting in ...... well you get the drift. He wanted to see how things had progressed over the last couple of months which meant probing around my gums, tapping my teeth and looking more closely at areas that have not so far been in focus - which was a bit perplexing. And I’m pretty sure he’s not happy with the state of an ancient crown (nearly 30 years since it was done!). There’s also still some infection round the gum of the RCTed tooth.
I couldn’t pin him down though when we actually got to the discussion bit. When I asked him about the state of the crown he’d examined so painstakingly he went all chatty and related a number of anecdotes from his working day. It was all very interesting, but completely irrelevant. And he wouldn’t be drawn, I couldn’t get a straight answer out of him! But I learnt a lot about another patient‘s implant and gum disease and dealing with insurance companies.
The situation was actually quite funny. My previous dentists have never been ones for small-talk, pure efficiency, the occasional grunt (slightly exaggerated) was the best I could hope for, so the current one is something different and he is very effective at putting me at ease. Which can only be a good thing.
I’ll probably get my answers at the next appointment when there are going to be more x-rays and decisions will be made. It is a wee bit frustrating that things are moving so slowly, on the other hand there is no point in rushing things if an infection is still around.
This is a late reply but I’m glad things are moving for you, even if it is slowly. It takes time to get back on track after starting to back to the dentist but at the same time, it goes fast in retrospect. My dentist and ortho never do small talk and I love it. It gets me in and out, haha. Hope the infection gets sorted out and you continue on your journey. It’s definitely worth it!
 
J

JaySee19

Member
Joined
Jun 17, 2020
Messages
84
Location
Germany
This afternoon we finished work on my teeth. I was fitted with a crown - 2 days earlier than expected as the temporary crown decided it had had enough and split in half with an almighty crunch as I was eating a salad at lunch. The crunch scared the wits out of me - it sounded very tooth-like, but a quick examination of the chunk which came off showed it was only the temporary crown. I called the dentist immediately and was told he would try to get the permanent crown finished early and squeeze me in this afternoon. Which he duly did, for which I am very grateful.
The good thing about these “emergency” appointments is I don’t really have time to get nervous. The bad thing was I wasn’t really psyched up for it and forgot to ask some of the questions I wanted.
But now the pearly white cap is sitting on - and hopefully protecting - my poor root canalled molar. The molar which has caused me heaps of problems and drove me to the dentist after 13 years in the first place. Sorted. Finished. No more work to do! How cool is that!
But now I have to do the difficult part, and that is keep going for the check ups. Pain and fear made me get a grip on my dental phobia at the end of May, it will be a lot more difficult to keep a grip when those motivators aren’t there. Regular appointments to get things fixed over the last 4 1/2 months have kept my phobia at least under control. Long gaps mean the fear can build up again.
So now I have to tell myself why things are different this time and why I will keep going.

First of all I have found MY dentist. He is a miracle worker with local anaesthetic. I have never had such painless injections, and he even manages to dose them so that the numbness has worn off by the time I get home. And yet, when I’m numb I don’t feel a thing. Even better, he doesn’t give me jabs unless he has to. We’ve done fillings without LA and most of the work on my bad tooth after the RCT, was done without an injection (not the crown prep though). I don’t know how he knows, but it doesn’t hurt and he really is very gentle. It can also be extremely uncomfortable, but never painful. I hope his work is as good as it looks and everything lasts a long time, I can’t judge that yet. He is also prepared to put in a lot of effort to save one tooth, which another dentist wanted to extract. And that suits me very well too.

Secondly I don’t think I can afford NOT to go to regular check ups and cleanings any more. Thirteen years of neglect has caused some long-term damage to my gums and teeth. I have got off lightly, but further neglect will definitely lead to tooth loss and I don’t want that. So now they’re fixed I need to keep them that way. I’ve never neglected them in the sense of not brushing them, but I’ve definitely neglected them by not letting a dentist or hygienist near them.

Thirdly I think I’m too old to be scared of the dentist and it’s about time I got out of the role of victim and started taking a little more responsibility for my oral health care. I know my fear is irrational and will always be a part of me, but I have to keep it under control.

Fourth the internet can help me this time round. I do find all things medical fascinating and it helps me enormously to know what to expect, even if it does involve blood, gore and pain according to YouTube. My dentist isn’t going to cause me pain at the time. He may bruise me, hurt my cheeks or gums, but my mouth heals really quickly and I’ll only be uncomfortable for a couple of days. I do find it very helpful to see the procedures on YouTube and understand why things need to be done and what options there are. I can’t face videos of the drilling involved with implants yet - but then I don’t need them. I just have to keep it that way.

Fifth this forum can help and I shall be reading all the success stories and fears. And reminding myself that I don’t have to be afraid.

The first step has been taken. I made an appointment for 6 months time. Now I have to call them if I can’t make that date. Something I hate doing when I’m in a phobic phase.

So wish me luck. I shall be a nervous wreck in early April 2021, but I will go.
 
kitkat

kitkat

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Mar 27, 2006
Messages
1,583
Location
United States
Congrats on making it through to the other side! Yes, maintenance is a new way of life now that you are out of crisis mode with fixing everything that needed fixing. It will be much easier to address things as they come up; the key is always having an appointment booked so that you can follow through with going back. I sometimes wonder if there will ever be a day that I am not nervous about going and while I do have some better days than others, I have accepted that I may not ever be that super calm person in the dental office and that’s ok. I always do calm down in the chair during treatment which might be as good as it gets for me and so long as I’m not avoiding, I’m happy with that. I’m so glad you have found your dentist to move forward with. Finding the right dentist really is the make or break it factor in finding success with this phobia.
 
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