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Dental phobia, massive toothache and covid.



Nov 2, 2020
French/German border
For some background, my phobia started in childhood and I have tried many many dentists over the years. It feels like I have been to everyone in my area but none of them worked for me. All their shots hurt like hell (I don't have a needle phobia, really. Blood tests and immunasations do not bother me), many I did not click with from the first meeting and I tend to have issues with the ladies assisting. This is a minor thing, probably not understandable to you guys from English speaking countries where the distinction doesn't even exist, but the ladies at the dentist always address me informally rather than formally without asking which immediately makes me feel patronized. There is more but I'm getting into that as I'd be here for days. But I tried several dentists claiming to understand phobic patients.
Anyway, I have recently started having a MASSIVE toothache. I did not eat today or yesterday and cannot really sleep. It comes and goes but when it's there, it's unbearable and radiates.
I have been treated under general aesthetic several times and that was the only thing that worked. I made the plan that if anything comes up again, I'm just going back to the hospital and getting knocked out as no dentist here seems to offer a general or IV sedation. Well, the monkey wrench known as covid 19 came and we just went into another lockdown. The hospital now requires a negative covid test and even getting there would be impossible. I do not drive and have nobody who could drive me (my mother would but has her own phobias and issues with driving on highways), so I would have to take a crowded train. I have to add here that I also struggle immensely with the masks. I can wear one while in the store for short bursts of time, but once I have to wear it longer I start panicking. I couldn't go and have a tooth treated or pulled out and then immediately put on a mask and sit in a train with it for an hour. I currently cannot go to work because I cannot wear a mask for that long. I'm not going to debate the effectiveness of them, but I struggle.
If I tried another dentist here, it wouldn't be of much use because I need that deep sedation or a general which only seem to be offered at the hospitals. I tried enduring it without anything, I tried pills, I tried nitrous gas...none of it worked other than absolute non-awareness. Even just going there for at least an antibiotic feels impossible. How will I handle the mask when I already struggle and going to the dentist always makes it hard to breath to begin with? This covid thing could take YEARS and I could hardly take it anymore before the toothache started, now it's just unbearable. I never imagined that something like covid could happen and leave me in this situation.
Hi la_vie_en_rose :welcome:

wow.. so sorry to read about your situation... there is a lot going on and I see how it all looks hopeless.. it must be exhausting and scary to deal with a toothache in this situation.
I fully understand your struggle with the mask and let me reassure you that you are not the only person. Depending on our pasts, vulnerabilities and things we find difficult, some don't even notice wearing a mask and for some it can be a real struggle. I also see how if you are already nervous at the dentist, the mask can make it all just worse.

I think the aim here would be to see what options you have and what you can cope with. You have things that you tried in the past and that didn't work, you will have things you would be willing to try again, you have things that won't work at all. I can only hope you will find a combination that would either get you out of pain or at least buy you some time. Also, I was wondering where exactly your fears lie and how does it show during a visit? Also, would seeing a GP and get help there be of benefit (they may give you antibiotics to buy you some time - an option that I do not really like and dentists either, it should be the dentist prescribing antibiotics for a tooth, but in your situation GP may be worth a try)

By the way, it is ok to voice preferences about how would you like to be addressed, if you feel strong enough to set the boundary. So if this is bothering you, making it clear on the phone may help. Or other way around - if adressing it straight away may be too unpleasant, maybe asking the receptionist how the nurses use to address someone your age may be a good start and you could set your preference as a reply to that. I see how being addressed informally makes you feel patronized.

Hang in there, keep us posted and may you find a way to get out of pain soon.
Thank you for your supportive response.
I can wear a mask for short periods of time, just not 8 hours at work. The problem with mask plus getting to/from the dentist and waiting for him/her is that I tend to breathe heavily/have trouble breathing when I have to go to the dentist, so the combination of the two will be especially difficult.
I actually did spend the day looking for possible dentists I have not been to. One office sounded quite good and I actually even got a bit excited. Until I called and was told the soonest appointment they can offer me is on the 25th of November. I called the second one who said 17th. The third one is closed Mondays so I couldn't call. Needless to say, I am extremely frustrated. Because I am so phobic, they don't seem to want to shove me in between two appointments as an emergency appointment, but two or three weeks of this? I'll pass out from lack of nutrition and sleep!!
No real help other than take pain pills (they barely work even when I take as much as you are allowed to in a day. I cannot even eat a bowl of soup) or go to the emergency dentist for x-ray and antibiotics. I obviously cannot just go to a random dentist I could not research and if it is someone I have been to, I definitely couldn't face them again. I will try to call the third dentist tomorrow but I don't have high hopes.
So I think that for now, your GP idea is simply the best option. The dentists might not like it but I wouldn't know what else to do and even if it is not ideal, my doctor might be able to help to relieve this terrible pain. The offices I called did not give me any acceptable options and I cannot live like this for two or three weeks. This also brings up all of the past memories of dentistry. I have not been to a dentist in about five or six years and I haven't really thought of it since. But now it's all coming back. I hope this somehow works out. I might have to reconsider trying the hospital but I feel like they might not want to treat me.
To correct something I said earlier---it is not true that there are NO offices that offer sedation, but I was kicked out of one for having a panic attack. He said he would not treat me even under full sedation. The other one did treat me, but the fillings were too high and when I came back they insisted they checked and they aren't too high. I had to go to another dentist to have them filed down. One of the offices I called suggested both to me and I had to say no and left like "Oh boy, they don't want me either now".
Went to the GP Tuesday morning and got an antibiotic and other pain killers. I also had the covid-19 test since. I paid for the quick test which is negative. I have been coughing up phlegm which made me hopeful that maybe it was not a tooth ache. But while it is less awful and completely gone a good part of the time, but I cannot eat anything hot or cold. Then it starts up again really bad and at times it starts up randomly though the pain is less extreme in those cases.
I did not yet call the other dentist. I don't think I will because the more I think about it, the more I just know that it won't work.
I'm pretty sure that this tooth needs to come out but since I haven't been in years I'll surely have a ton of other problems in my mouth. And if I somehow manage to have it out, they will make me come back for drilling and cleanings and god knows what with no chance of the hospital doing anything. Last time I had to beg and cry for them to even fill my cavities while taking out an infected tooth with twisted roots. They normally only fill cavities in children. Adults get their dental surgery and then have to go to the dentist for the cavities. The tooth that is now hurting apparently had a cavity so advanced, they said that they would
take it out if it couldn't be filled because they don't do root canals under general. I did wake up with it still in, obviously, but now wish that it would have been ripped out.
I cannot just keep going back over and over and over again over months. Especially not now with covid. When I know that I have to go to the dentist in, say MONTHS I keep thinking of it, never really sleep well and it just ruins my work and private life. And it will be even worse now with covid because I don't want to catch it from going to the dentist.
I'm just over it. Looking around if there are any dentists that will just knock you out.