• Dental Phobia Support

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Desperate and extreme phobia



Mar 28, 2019
Hello, I don't know if anyone can help me... I have a phobia that is really affecting and disrupting my life. I have been working through it with a psychologist, but have been told that there is now little I can do until I've "taken the plunge".

I have an appointment in 4 days with a special needs dentist, and my fear and anxiety levels have escalated even higher since I made the appointment about 10 days ago. I'm crying nearly every night, am constantly distracted, and have been in so much distress that I have had to contact a crisis hotline. Trying to hide all this from my family (there are numerous reasons why I can't tell them) has made this even harder.

At 32 years old, I have never had a proper dental examination, as my parents never took me. It's possible I have nothing wrong with my teeth, or it's possible I have a mouth full of cavities and need multiple root canals. I also don't know what they're going to say about my wisdom teeth. Basically, I'm terrified. Because I'll be going to a special needs dentist, there is the option for even the examination to be done under sedation, but other dentists are telling me I have to give conscious consent before any treatment can occur. What I need is to be sedated for the examination, then have the treatment done while I'm still under so that I know nothing about it until it is over. It doesn't sound like that will be a possibility, though, and I'm terrified of finding out what treatment I need, and terrified I won't cope during the period between finding out and the actual treatment (possibly a month or more). I'm even scared of going under sedation- I have never had any sort of sedation or anaesthetic before.

My teeth are not in any pain. I'm feeling a bit of sensation (light, not bad, not constant and not really pain) in some of my lower middle teeth, but can't see anything that looks like a problem. I just changed toothbrush, so that could have something to do with it. I can't even tell whether it's my teeth or gums. Like I said, I wouldn't even call it pain- just feeling. I have also had sinus pain so it is possibly connected.

Basically, I'm really scared of what I could be told and that I won't be able to handle going through treatment, even under sedation. Would it be likely that I would need, say, multiple root canals if I don't have any signs of anything being wrong? And if I need something like wisdom teeth out, do painkillers actually work? I've just heard so many horror stories and am so scared of what could happen to me. I know I shouldn't worry until I know, but I'm worried about finding out, and no matter how hard I try or what I do to stop myself worrying it just won't go away. I feel really sick.

Any help anyone can give will be so much appreciated!
ETA. Unfortunately I also don't have any social support- no friends I can talk with or tale along with me.
I am not a dentist, but just wanted to offer support. If you are not having pain, then it is very unlikely that you will need root canal treatment. I have had two teeth that needed it, and both of them had pain. One was so pressure sensitive that I could not chew on it at all. Eventually it started having sharp pains that came randomly, and were strong enough to nearly send me to my knees. The other one was from a childhood injury. The tooth died slowly and was never detected until this past year, when it formed an abscess. The tooth was really hurting and sore when I went in.

Even cracks hurt. So you "may" have some small cavities, but if you are just having sensitivity, which can be totally normal with healthy teeth, you are not likely to have anything major.

The uncertainty is the worst part, and the apprehension of the "what could be". Think of the examination as the end to the uncertainty. After that, you will have a plan to go forward. Plus the exam is not bad at all! If you are super worried, ask if you can get nitrous oxide. It relaxes you, but you can still give consent and be aware.
MountainMama I have to disagree with you. I have had root canal on a tooth that had no pain. The only person who can tell if a tooth needs root canal is a dentist and then and only then by looking at the xray
MountainMama I have to disagree with you. I have had root canal on a tooth that had no pain. The only person who can tell if a tooth needs root canal is a dentist and then and only then by looking at the xray

I am sorry you had that experience. I do not claim to have experience, and am sorry if what I said was misleading. I am going based on what my endodontist told me, which is why I said it was unlikely. I was trying to alleviate the fears of the OP, as from what I was told it is not common to have a nerve issue with no pain, unless the tooth is dead but has not abscessed.

Thank you for sharing your struggles. Now you are not alone and do have a network of people that have been through and going through dental anxities . Many of us had little , no or awful childhood expererience and know what its like to step into the dental offices after so many years. Its scary.. its also extremely brave.. you are really doing so many things to start to care for yourself well, going to therapy, calling help lines, making this appointment. You are well on your way.

Take it step by step and just move forward, you have the strength to do it! I can see it in you even from your few posts. Its not easy but now you do have support at least here and I hope you can find a very kind supportive dentist. Is there a particular reason you chose the one you did? So many dentists are very kind and sensitive to anxiety now and have alot of ways to help you through one step at a time. Keep posting and you will get support!!

Mountain mama is right that the uncertainty and what ifs are the worst part sometimes.. so knowing what you are dealing with will bring you some sense of control and peace .

REally wishing the best for you!
Yes, it would be pretty uncommon to need root treatment on an asymptomatic tooth as far as I'm aware.

Laura, very well done for having come this far :respect:. Opening up to psychologist about this is a huge achievement. That must have been really tough. Sorry to hear about the horror stories you've heard :( - I hope your own experience of dental care will be a really good one :).

Dentistry has come a very long way over the last decades, and most dentists nowadays will want to deal with any existing problems in the least invasive manner possible. In the UK at least, symptom-free wisdom teeth are usually left well alone (I presume it's similar in Australia).

You might want to use the first appointment as an opportunity to get to know your dentist and ask any questions you may have, rather than have an actual check-up. You may find it useful to write down your concerns and questions beforehand. If you have an email address for the dentist, s/he may also be able to address some of your concerns beforehand via email (if it's not too short notice).

Keeping my fingers crossed for you :thumbsup:
Hi Laura86 :welcome:,

first of all a huge well done on scheduling an appointment and even working with a psychologist, this only shows how willing you are to get help and overcome your phobia. It's also good to hear that you take care of yourself and called a crisis hotline once. Please keep up with this any time you feel you need a chat with someone. Hiding this from your family and not having anyone to chat sounds really hart so feel free to call them whenever you need to talk. This forum also is a good place to vent and get support, we also have a journal section.

I can see the huge amount of fear and uncertainty you are having currently and not knowing what is or will be going on makes the first dental visits really scary. What I would like to encourage you to do is to just think at the next step. Your dentist is specialized on people with special needs so they will be used to deal with people who really really struggle with anxiety so I am confident they will know how to put you at ease and help you to get through the visit. If there are any questions or details you feel you would like to know before the visit, it might be the best idea to get in touch with that practice and ask them. This will make you feel better prepared and informed and might ease some of your fears.

The aim of your dentist will be to help you to get the needed exam and treatment under conditions you are able to cope with. If there is anything that you feel you can't cope with, your dentist will help you to find a solution. They are on your side, remember. You might want use the time until your appointment to think of what you would like to ask or voice during your appointment and write it down, just in case you find yourself too nervous to think clearly. I literally had spent weeks writing lists of my fears and questions before the very first appointment.

Should you come across a wisdom teeth removal, then usual over the counter painkillers will take care of it without problems.

All the best wishes and keep us posted
Thank you so much to everyone who has sent replies, I appreciate the support. I honestly don’t know how I’m going to get through this. I’m in a terrible work situation where I’m substitute teaching and not getting much work, and when I do it’s in different schools so I don’t even have a consistent workplace or work colleagues who could give me some support. Today I’m in another new school and crying in the bathroom at lunch. Everything is adding up and I can’t cope. I’m just hoping Monday’s appointment is helpful and that I can manage until/during/after that time.
Thanks again to everyone
My therapist told me in situations where I had zero control of the outcome to try and distract myself, I know it's not as easy as it sounds but I find focussing on something different helps, maybe try baking or doing a hobby that takes all your concentration, with any luck you'll be so tired at night you'll fall asleep right away!
Personally I've found the best painkiller for dental pain is ibuprofen, I've had 5 extractions and multiple fillings alongside 2 abscesses and ibuprofen has got me through them all!
Best of luck for your appointment on Monday
Thanks so much! I’m just a complete wreck and can hardly get myself to do anything..

this sounds really hard. Not sure how your health care system works, but where I live this would be a good reason to go to your GP an make them allow you go get a day or two off. It sounds like an incredible pressure you are having right now.

I remember being unable to work in the initial stages of my dental journey few years ago. I would go to bathroom ofen and cry a lot or sometimes just stared out of the window for prolonged periods of time. I also wasn’t able to sit still for more than few minutes and had panic attacks. It went like this for weeks and I am still amazed that I haven’t got fired as I was literally unable to work.

Is there anything that usually calms you down a bit or helps you to get through hard times? Do you have any tools that your therapist thought you to deal with heavy emotional states?

Sending you hugs and well wishes, hand on there, your appointment is comin soon so you are almost there.

All the best wishes and keep us posted
Thanks, my work is on a casual basis and I’ve been having trouble picking up work, so even though I was in no fit state today I had to accept work, or no pay.. which would mean being unable to pay the dentist bill as it looks like private health insurance won’t give me much back.

At the moment, nothing is working. My psychologist talks about identifying the physical symptoms of anxiety and that’s all very good, but then what do I do about it? And the situation is still there whether I’m aware of my feelings or not. At the moment, I don’t even have little things to make me happy- no friends to go out with, no sports to enjoy (my favourite tennis player has just been eliminated from current tournament and my football team looks like they will not win a match this season), no stable work, can’t concentrate on tv and movies (and lost interest) and no enjoyment of food for fear of what it will do to my teeth.

Thanks everyone for your support. I think at the end of the day only I can get through this, and I just hope I can find the strength to.
Sounds like your therapist is not too helpful for you at the moment. :( I wished you would have gotten some usable techniques to feel more able to get through the day or just to feel a bit more ready to deal with your visit. Sorry to read that there are no other things that would calm you down however you sound very dedicated.

You wrote you hope you can find the strength to get through that. The secret is, you will. It will feel terrible and you might get to your limits emotionally and physically but of course you will get through that. If you look around here in the success stories, you will find many people who were in a similar situation and got through it.

Anyway, I wished I could take away your anxiety just by replying to your post, that would be a beautiful thing but I can't. I am also sorry to read about what you are experiencing now and it so strongly reminds me of my own experiences. I was so sure I would die in the waiting room on my first appointment back than, I felt so much out of control and so sick, it was like collapsing so I knew there is no way I would survive it.. and you might guess.. I am still here.. we all are and we all got through it and you will too, so just hang on there and do whatever you feel is right at the moment, taking care of yourself as much as possible. Hope you do not have to work during the weekend and can recover a bit and prepare for the visit.
Thanks so much, I actually have been thinking that I’ll end up leaving the appointment in an ambulance. I think my psychologist thinks I’m going to be fine but knows that I won’t listen if she tells me, so she wants me to experience getting through it- but that isn’t really helping in the lead up.
I guess I can only hope.
Thanks again!
Thanks so much, I actually have been thinking that I’ll end up leaving the appointment in an ambulance. I think my psychologist thinks I’m going to be fine but knows that I won’t listen if she tells me, so she wants me to experience getting through it- but that isn’t really helping in the lead up.
I guess I can only hope.
Thanks again!
Any chance your therapist would go with you? I’ve had two that have offered so I know it has been done in the past. Why not ask for your therapist to come along if you think it might make you feel better?

Good luck!
I did think of that, but to pay both her and the dentist for that one appointment is more than I can afford, especially since their locations are not close together. I just wish I could wake up one morning and all this was over..