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Dentist appt in April after 15+ years of not going: scared! just need to vent



Junior member
Feb 26, 2022
United States
Hi, all. I'm new here and like many others, it been many years (15+) since i've gone to the dentist. I'm actually terrified of all medical professionals, including dentists, due to childhood trauma and ptsd. I've been in therapy for over a decade and am finally ready to face my fears about going to the dentist. I have an appt in April (which is the soonest I could get in). I'd actually go sooner if I could because the anticipation is killing me.

I'm TERRIFIED of so many things: the fear of just going there which is tied to my trauma and the fear of finding out just how bad my teeth are. The anticipation is driving me crazy!! Since i made my appt, all I can think about is my teeth. I wake up and immediately think about it. I can't focus at work because of it. I go to sleep thinking about it. I google all the worst possibilities all day long! I'm skipping meals and scared to eat because I've had a horrible sugar habit for so many years that I'm afraid that I've done irreparable damage and that my teeth won't last to 60 (I'm 30 years old).

For many years I barely thought about my teeth. I knew that they weren't in good shape but it's like I dissociated from it because I just wasn't ready to deal. Then a few weeks ago I "woke up" from this dissociation and now it's ALL I think about.

I have obvious plaque and tartar build up, staining, and I'm quite sure many, many cavities and probably need root canals. My wisdom teeth pretty much came in fully but they are hard to reach and clean they probably need to be extracted. I'm not really in any pain so I think that's good but then I worry that the reason I'm not in pain is because my teeth are all dead anyway. I think I have the start of receding gums. I'm obsessed over the idea that I might have periodontal disease. I've looked at so many pictures online and my own mouth that I can't even tell what's normal and what's not anymore! I've been flossing like crazy and am worried that I have deep periodontal pockets. My gums only bled a couple of times but typically don't bleed when flossing and my gums appear to be mostly pink instead of really red but I don't know!! I had anorexia and then later binge eating for a number of years so I'm worried that i have bone loss caused by lack of nutrition. The floss sinks deep into my gums on some teeth - I've watched videos of proper flossing and I can't tell how deep is normal for floss to sink into gums. My bottom front teeth are the most badly stained with tartar buildup, etc. I'm pretty sure that I have cavities between a number of teeth, including my bottom front teeth which are crowed. Of course, these are the teeth that everyone can see when I talk so it's embarrassing on top of all my other fears.

I'm sure that the dental work I need will cost a fortune. I have dental insurance but it barely covers anything beyond a basic cleaning. I've started looking into personal loans in anticipation. I'm sure that it'll set me back financially for a decade or more. I've thought about needing to cut back on my therapy to save money but it's like a double edged sword because I need the therapy to be OK and continue making progress (like making a dental appt in the first place). I'm worried that even if I get a loan and am able to get needed dental work done, that I've done so much damage that it'll just keep snowballing even with regular dental care and there will come a point when I literally cannot pay even with a credit card or loan.

Anyway, THANK YOU for listening to my rant. I'm just so scared and tired of obsessing about this day in and day out. I can't imagine going another whole month obsessing like this until my appt. Thank you again for listening.
Hi @Charlotte3 and :welcome:!

How courageous of you to face your fears and childhood trauma head on :respect:! And how frustrating that you now have to wait for so long for your appointment. Sometimes it's worth asking if they have a cancellation list that you can be put on, especially if you're flexible? Then again, you may prefer not to have things sprung on you and be able to mentally prepare ?. Out of interest, how did you choose your dentist? Was it someone your therapist recommended?

To be honest, it sounds like you look after your teeth really well, much more so than many if not most people. So you may get a pleasant surprise. With regards to wisdom teeth, just being hard to reach wouldn't be a reason to remove wisdom teeth (in the UK and Europe at least). Floss going quite deep under the gums is also normal. And bone loss (at least when it comes to teeth) isn't really caused by lack of nutrition, so there's no need to worry on that score.

You mentioned skipping meals because you're too scared to eat. Don't be! It can be really helpful to learn about how tooth decay really happens - this page explains it in some detail:

Basically, it is all down to the frequency with which your teeth come into contact with certain types of foods and drinks.

With regards to the money/insurance question, it sounds as if you're not currently in pain or embarrassed because of missing teeth, so any dental work you decide upon is sort of elective... and you may be pleasantly surprised by how much even a basic cleaning will improve things ?

Anyway, thanks for joining our forum and I hope the long wait won't be too taxing... perhaps if you let them know how difficult you're finding it, they can get you in earlier... ?
@letsconnect Thank you so much for your reply and encouragement!

I chose the dental practice that my adoptive family has gone to for years. They have a long history there and have always had good things to say about the dentist. I also read reviews from people with fear of the dentist and many patients there talked about how the dentist always explains everything step by step and is understanding of nervous patients.

Thank you for the link/information about tooth decay, etc. I've had quite a sugar habit for a long time so that worries me but I'm trying not to let it preoccupy me since there is really no knowing what the damage is or isn't until my appt (easier said than done!). I'm going to see if they can get me in for an earlier appt. but don't want to be put on a cancel list because I can't leave work early without notice and I do need to be mentally prepared.

I'm going to spend the next month just developing better oral habits so that I at least feel like I'm doing something productive instead of just fretting! I don't know if I'll be able to go back to eating normally, especially eating any kind of carbs/starch/sugar, but I'll do my best.

Thanks again of your support.
That all sounds great @Charlotte3, sounds like you'll be in very good hands! There's no chance that you'll do damage by eating carbs/starch/sugar when sticking to 3 or 4 meals a day (and keeping sweets to mealtimes). The key is to give your teeth enough time in between meals to remineralise. But yeah, I totally get how reason goes out of the window when dealing with this fear (been there, done that!). Hopefully once you've had your first visit, things will become much easier ?. Please keep us updated!
@Charlotte3im with you. Let’s keep each other posted. And remember. Dentists don’t judge. (Well, maybe they do) but they’re in the business of making money. So we are about to buy them new cars with our problems. So, if anything, they should treat us like royalty lol
@Idespiseteeth @letsconnect

I was able to get in today instead of waiting until April.

Guys. I CANNOT believe this but I don't have any cavities! Not a single cavity! AND I don't have periodontal disease as I feared. As a matter of fact, the hygienist said that my gums barely bled at all and my gum measurements were all normal. She was shocked. I was shocked. The dentist was shocked. We were all shocked!

Everything that looked bad about my teeth was JUST STAINING from all my tea drinking and the hygienist was able to clean it all off. I'm SOOO relieved!!!

Beyond the good news that my teeth are in good shape, everyone in the office treated me super well. I wrote on my forms that I have PTSD and they very nice about it and not judgmental or condescending. I'm SO GLAD that i took the leap and went after all these years!!
That’s wonderful news @Charlotte3. So, so happy for you ?!!! Congratulations and thanks so much for the update ?
That is amazing! Very happy for you.