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Dental implant and wisdom teeth extraction coming up with fear of anesthesia issue



Well-known member
Jul 9, 2022
Hi! Here is my dental fear story, sorry it is so long. Some background, my main fears are anesthesia and sedation, and uneccessary treatment or dishonesty due to financial motivation. I am an anxious, sensitive person, who is very shy and socially anxious.

I did not fear the dentist until I became an older teen and, as was standard routine in my part of the USA in the 90s, began pushing for me to have a preventative removal of all my wisdom teeth under general anesthetic. When I asked why, they said they would be hard to clean. I refused to do this, and instinctively felt it was uneccesary or financially motivated. When the nagging and pressure continued, I stopped going to the dentist for a bit longer than the next ten years. I am mortally terrified by the idea of being given a general anesthetic, and panic almost at the mention of it. I now feel like this dentist should have told me there were other options for wisdom teeth, they can be removed later, not all at once, not always with general anesthetic, etc, and I feel like they didn't serve me well pushing for this one treatment and acting like there wasn't another.

I have two retained baby teeth and eventually these started to break down and decay so I was forced to return to seeing dentists. I first had to get one fixed by a very imposing, angry, and agressive male emergency dentist in a large and intimidating office, which was my first appointment of over a decade. He was yelling at his assistant, making terrible comments to me, and it was just horrible.

I chose my next dentist to be unintimidating. A small female dentist with no hygenist or assistant in a small, run down office. I knew she wasn't the best, most hygenic, or most painless. I was able to tolerate her fixing my filings in my retained baby teeth which often needed to be done, and she gave me antibiotics when one got infected. I didn't like it that she was pressuring me hard to get the worst baby tooth pulled and replaced with an implant or bridge. One time she grabbed her hand mirror, pulled down my lip, and started loudly saying my baby tooth looked so ugly and terrible, trying to convince me. I didn't say anything, and she said "I guess it always looks like that". I feel like this dentist exagerated the need to replace my tooth if it was pulled, because she said things like my other teeth would fall over like dominos if I was missing that molar, and that she was financially motivated to exagerate the need to replace my tooth if it was pulled. I have seen lots of people missing a molar and not having a problem. In fact, I think she may have been missing one herself.

I had to move to a new state and was afraid to go to a new dentist for more than a year. Finally I founds the smallest office I could with another female dentist, I thought this would make me more comfortable. This one was more aggressive about wanting to pull and replace my baby tooth, I also feel she was exagerating how bad it would be for me to be missing a molar and not replacing it. On about my fourth appoinment when I came in (this spring) the hygenist told me the dentist was getting upset about my baby tooth. I heard the dentist with her voice raised, almost a yell, outside the room say "It's still there !?!" She came in very angry and upset talking about wanting to pull my baby tooth and replace it. I said I wasn't ready to and was very visibly angry and told me she would be writing a treatment plan which was for me to have it removed and replaced with an implant under general anesthetic by an oral surgeon. She didn't offer me any input on the plan. I had told her I didn't want a general anesthetic before but I guess she forgot. I was made to go to the front to get a quote and told to call when ready to start the plan. I feel like she was also glossing over that you don't necessarily have to replace a tooth and exagerating the risks of missing one. She also brought up and offered me veneers on my front teeth one time which I hadn't ever mentioned or expressed interest in. I had a feeling of fear of uneccesary treatment with this dentist though I wasn't that personally put in fear mode by her.

A few months later my baby tooth was infected and so was one of my wisdom teeth. I decided to try a new dentist. I found one that advertised on his website about doing dental implants and wisdom teeth extractions but didn't offer general anesthetic. When I went to this guys office I felt in panic mode the whole time even though he was nice, it was a big fancy office, with a lot of staff, and I fear men and all male medical and dental personel more than females, I wasn't able to hide my massive fear. He was very confused when I said I wanted to get my wisdom tooth taken out without general anesthetic saying "but you are anxious" but he did seem to understand I told him I feared anesthesia more than dentistry. They made a treatment plan there to get an extraction of my infected baby tooth and wisdom tooth, and the oposing wisdom tooth, and to get a dental implant to replace my baby tooth. I went to one appointment already and got the baby tooth extracted. I was terrified and misearabley sad, like wanting to cry, but it was painless, however I got very disassociated while they did it, and I think they may think I was high or something. Even though it seems like things have improved I am struggling with fear and thoughts about this on my mind all the time. My main fear, and this sounds a little weird, is that this guy will try to press me to take nitrous oxide, which I know he does have at his office, for either of the bigger procedures, the dental implant or wisdom teeth. I am worried about trying to push back on that if it happens too, in case I lost my option to be treated by this dentist entirely, because it seems many places in my state and area require iv sedation or general anesthesia for these procedures, which terrify me even more. I fear the procedures too, but it is a background thing to my fear of sedatives and anesthetics. I wish I could get over the issue I am having with the big fancy office with lots of staff and a male dentist too. I know that I am coming across as rude and unfriendly in this office. I didn't thank the dentist after he pulled my baby tooth so he said "well thank you" so then I remembered to. I realize my earlier choices for small offices and female dentists were actually causing me not to choose the best people skill wise and there are very few choices in my somewhat rural area, and almost no women dentists at all.

I really wish I could just get treatment without people trying to push me on procedures or drugs. I am already stressed over my dental problems, but the idea of drugs is like an addition that makes it a nightmare for me. The thought of being drugged makes me sweat and feel like I am falling apart.

I am going back on Monday for a xray to start the progress toward the implant, which I requested to do first, but I believe the dentist may actually want to do the wisdom tooth extraction first, so I don't know what will happen.

I would be grateful for advice or just some kind support. I feel like nobody is having an experience like mine.
I don’t have the fear of sedation, but I do have a fear of not being in control. I have a very strong fear of dental procedures, especially extractions, stemming from some terrible experiences as a child. I had baby teeth that didn’t want to come out, but the permanent teeth were getting pushed elsewhere so I had to have the baby teeth out. The dentist was a family friend and he wasn’t aggressive or mean, but he didn’t believe me that the anesthetic was not working.

I had extreme fear when I had to have my first molar extraction as an adult. I was worried about the pain, and the procedure itself. I did opt for nitrous oxide, because I didn’t think I would be able to make it through without it, but I was terrified about being out of control and worried about what I would do or say. Turns out that you can ask them to keep it low and I was aware the whole time of what was going on, could communicate, and could kind of tune in and out as I wanted to. It was kind of like being in a sleepy state but being able to focus when you wanted.
I had all four wisdom teeth out under general anesthesia because mine were impacted and would not have come through. It was when I was a teen and I really didn’t like the experience but I didn’t have a choice.

My husband is like you. He refuses to have general anesthesia. He is terrified of being put under. He had his wisdom teeth extracted with just local anesthesia. He also had to have knee surgery when he was in his 20’s, from a skiing accident and he refused to be put under. They ended up giving him a spinal block and he was awake for the whole thing. I don’t know that I could have done that but he said it was fine.
@MountainMama Thanks for the response. It's nice to hear that your husband shares my feelings, at least somebody does, and has been having good luck getting treatment without anesthesia.
@NervousUSA, yes, he has been lucky so far not to need any major surgery that can’t be done without general anesthesia. I don’t know how he would handle it. Knowing him, he would refuse treatment to avoid the general anesthesia. It is definitely a real fear. He isn’t afraid of much and has a very high pain tolerance.
Hi there!
I understand the fear of general anesthesia. I have had multiple major surgeries where it was necessary, but I opted to have local anesthesia and an anxiety medication for my previous extractions and dental implant procedures. The nice part of doing it this way was I was awake, but relaxed. I was very open and honest with my dentist about how a lack of control causes a lot of distress and we made a plan to do this with local anesthesia and anxiety medication. It was over before I knew it. He extracted 3 teeth and placed first stage implants. Often the anxiety over the procedure is the worst part of the whole thing. Wishing you the best of luck!
@Beccab213 That is very interesting. I have never thought of this fear as being a fear of lack of control but maybe that is part of it. I would be very interested to hear more about what lack of control means to people, like other people being in control of you, or drugs being in control of you?

With myself I have always blamed this phobia on a job I worked where I had to participate in anesthesia and euthanasia of animals. But maybe the idea of lack of control is part of it too.

What anti anxiety medication did you take and what was that like?
@NervousUSA we have a quite in-depth page on the pros and cons of sedation here on the website, which also discusses the issue of control/lack of control:

You may also be interested in our page on lack of control (even though it's not specific to sedation/general anaesthesia):

That job you worked in sounds quite traumatising, it's not surprising that you're still haunted by it :(.
To me, the lack of control was about not knowing what was happening and how the procedure was going. The dentist would tell me what he was doing, what I might hear or feel (drilling noise, feeling pressure etc), and each stage of the process. I liked knowing when the first, second, and third tooth were removed- I felt like I was really getting through it. Now, that being said, I had 6 root canals under general anesthesia in a hospital setting due to high anxiety. There was the benefit of going to sleep and waking up with my dental work done. It is nice to have options. But for me personally, going through my last 4 extractions awake really helped me get through some anxiety. I realized the fear is worse than the procedure and I felt empowered when it was done. Everyone is different in terms of their preferences on how to get through the dental work. What is important is to do whatever works best for you.

In terms of the medication, I was prescribed Valium the night before and the morning of. When I took it at bedtime, it helped me get a good night’s sleep. When I took it before the procedure, I was awake and alert, but very relaxed. Again, medications can affect everyone differently.

I would recommend having the discussion about the anxiety you are having with your dental team. A good dentist will listen and address your concerns. My dentist was lovely and got me through the procedures quite nicely. I also found it helpful to listen to my headphones during the procedures. I had my extractions and implants done at the end of June, but listened to Christmas music because it makes me happy.

Good luck!
@Beccab213 I like the idea of knowing what is happening during a procedure. I have never had a dentist tell me what they were doing or what I might feel. I think I will ask about that.

Thanks for sharing your experiences with sedation too.

I did try discussing my fear of drugs with them once, but may do so again.
I went back to the place yesterday to get a cone beam x ray which shows your softer tissues, I think, to see if I had enough bone for an implant. I had to look at the x ray with the dentist and I saw it had a feature "visualize airway". I suspected this feature was to do with intubation, which was something I had to help with at my job where I had to participate in anesthetizing animals, and was very distressed by at that time. When I saw this text saying "visualize airway" I had a huge full body panic reaction, I guess you could say I became massively triggered by it. I didn't say anything and tried to conceal my reaction, so I guess what happened is I probably just was talking stupidly/not able to discuss this xray very well. I started to feel like I might be freaked out by the whole x ray too, and looking at it, which is not an issue I have had before. I don't really know how I would explain about or avoid something like this to someone at the dentist, or what I could have said. I am very upset today too, just feeling super sad and miserable.
@NervousUSA my favorite oral surgeon would tell me what he was doing throughout the whole procedure every time. Even when I was using nitrous oxide, it was very comforting to know what was happening.
Hi again,
Maybe try to re-frame how today went. You are one step further in this process and the scan will provide valuable information to your dental care team allowing them provide you with quality care. And each step further along in the process brings you closer to completing this treatment. I know it’s hard and I have absolutely been where you are, but you are doing it. That is a remarkable thing and you should be proud.
@Beccab213 Thanks so much. It is so nice to hear your kind supportive comment. You are right. I chose this office because I thought I could get quality treatment (even though I knew it had features that would make me anxious), anticipation is worse than reality, and this is a step toward ending the process. These are some great ideas you have.
@NervousUSA please keep us posted, sending good thoughts your way as you go through this!
@Beccab213 Will do. The place is very booked out so I have to wait till late august for an appointment I have booked for placing the implant body. My hope is that goes great and I can get the two extractions as soon as I am over that. Thanks again!
Update: Was able to get the procedure done with no fuss. I was able to arrive early and stay in my car panicking and trying to calm down with box breathing until I was exhausted, which wasn't long, since I only slept a couple hours last night. I was pretty calm from then onwards, with just some startling and stress, and didn't disassociate like I had during the extraction. Luckily I didn't see anything to trigger my anesthesia phobia and no one offered me any drugs except novocaine, a welcome change from other offices I have dealt with. The procedure itself was comparable to an intense filling, a very similar experience with a lot of drilling. For some reason an extra painful novocaine injection with a lot of digging around. No more pain though after that point. It was very helpful for me to have educated myself about the procedure on animated-teeth dot com before hand, and also to watch some youtube videos showing the procedure, which show that the patients are not suffering or in pain with just novocaine (not advised if you are bothered by blood, etc.)
@NervousUSA glad it went so well! I had a sinus lift/implant with more to come in a couple weeks I only Had local as well. I’m like you where I like to have a general idea of what’s going to happen. I was shocked at how easy the actual implant procedure was. I’m sure the surgeon makes a difference too. If you handled this, you’ll do amazing with the extractions. Just focus on healing up from the implant and getting to the next steps. Congrats again, that’s a big accomplishment!
@Beccab213 Thanks Beaccab! The implant. I requested they do the implant before the last two extractions because I thought I could get used to tolerating dental procedures by the exposure method, and by going in order of intensity of procedure, or increasing the intensity every time. I have the two extractions in the end of September.