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Determined to start my dental journey in my 30s, but also terrified

  • Thread starter CourageAndBraveryASAP
  • Start date
Hi! Feeling good today, have taken ibuprofen as needed for some very dull and totally manageable discomfort in the gums near the root canal tooth. Eating soft foods, tongue keeps running over the temporary filling stuff in my root canal tooth, but no biggie. I can't BELIEVE I'm writing "no biggie" about a ROOT CANAL. This is a life milestone for me. I mean, I put this off for 30 years.

Now I have moved on to panicking about my dentist appointment next week, four hours long. My husband begged me to at least give myself the weekend off from life-consuming stress and anxiety over this. Today I had a big public speaking thing at work and he's like "How in God's name are you not scared of that, but PETRIFIED of the dentist?" My response has snippily been "That's what PHOBIAS are, they aren't rational!" He is taking the day off next week to come with me to the dentist.

Started meditating with the hope that it will help manage this!

Thank you very much for asking.
Congrats! You are well on your way and have already overcome so much in such a short time. What will you be having done at the 4 hour appointment? Will this be under sedation?
Yup. This is my sedation appointment though I’m conflicted about that. If I survived a two-part root canal without sedation, might I be able to do this without it too?

I’m getting:
1 My first cleaning EVER (maybe I had one or two as a small child that I don’t remember). It’s a scaling and root planing. I have a lot of very hard calculus particularly on my bottom front teeth. It’s a full mouth deep cleaning.
2 Three cavities filled
3 Crown put on my root canal tooth - there is a machine in the office that produces them there
4 Fluoride treatment

The cost for all of this is extraordinary. Without sedation, at a dentist that does not cater to apprehensive patients, it’s much less money. Like, thousands less minus sedation and special pricing at this dentist. But I’ve been to the office and am comfortable there. And want to get it done with.

Once that is done, it’s time for wisdom teeth extraction with a surgeon. And I’ll have, I think, a cleaning every three months as I’m borderline gingivitis/periodontitis. My gums don’t really bleed and they didn’t measure anything, but said they could tell from looking that there is inflammation.
Yup. This is my sedation appointment though I’m conflicted about that. If I survived a two-part root canal without sedation, might I be able to do this without it too?

I’m getting:
1 My first cleaning EVER (maybe I had one or two as a small child that I don’t remember). It’s a scaling and root planing. I have a lot of very hard calculus particularly on my bottom front teeth. It’s a full mouth deep cleaning.
2 Three cavities filled
3 Crown put on my root canal tooth - there is a machine in the office that produces them there
4 Fluoride treatment

The cost for all of this is extraordinary. Without sedation, at a dentist that does not cater to apprehensive patients, it’s much less money. Like, thousands less minus sedation and special pricing at this dentist. But I’ve been to the office and am comfortable there. And want to get it done with.

Once that is done, it’s time for wisdom teeth extraction with a surgeon. And I’ll have, I think, a cleaning every three months as I’m borderline gingivitis/periodontitis. My gums don’t really bleed and they didn’t measure anything, but said they could tell from looking that there is inflammation.
I'm not at the decision making part yet but I've also been wondering if I should ask for sedation. Apart from paying extra and being out of it, needing someone to drive me, I don't know if I would prefer to go through it all without and just learn to trust the dentist.

I hope you get on OK however it goes!
Have you all seen this interview, ? thought it was really interesting from the point of view of sedation dentist. Sedation can be so expensive. but sometimes so worth it for the short term at least ...

Courage and bravery asap, you have done so well. I am proud of you. My anxiety is taking over my life at the moment. I have panic attacks all day every day. It's affecting my eating and drinking and my concentration. I look at them anytime i go near a mirror. I feel like I am losing my mind. I wonder if psychology or anything else would help?.
Hi all. I had no issues other than two days of occasional infrequent ibuprofen for my gums where my root canal happened. So all in all, the root canal was a success.

But tomorrow afternoon I have my long IV sedation appointment and I am basically :sick::sick::sick::sick::cry::cry::cry::confused::confused::confused::cry::cry::cry::sick::sick::sick:. All of those things.

I'll be there for at least four hours. I don't know much about the order of operations or specifically what will happen when I arrive. Some online reviews say that folks arrived, were given something to take under their tongue that relaxed them, led to a room with a warm blanket, and then their IV was put in. Others report no such fanfare and that they were ushered straight back to the room and their IV was put in. So we shall see.

I'm getting:
IV sedation
Full mouth scaling and root planing
Three cavities filled
Crown on my root canal tooth
A pulp cap?... either related to the root canal tooth or one of the cavities, I think

Right now I am super nervous about the following things:
- The pain of getting the IV, if it will take multiple attempts, etc - I have never had one before. I know I'll need one in eventually to have a baby, so I'm hoping this will be a good experience.
- That they will be less gentle with me because they'll know I won't remember it later
- That my present-life self will be PETRIFIED and in pain and they won't care because of the amnesia quality of the anesthesia
- That it will somehow make me afraid of the dentist after I've had one positive experience already (root canal!)
- That I will hate not knowing what happened to me and not be able to deal with that later
- That my teeth will become loose, get chipped, that I'll have huge black spaces where there is calculus built up now and eventually fall out
- That they will overextend my jaw/not be respectful of my jaw/mess up my jaw forever/I will get home and my jaw will get stuck in place or misalign
- That I will need a bathroom during the procedure
- That I will be in pain but won't be able to vocalize or get frozen
- That I will be able to vocalize and no one will stop or listen

Of the above, I'm MOST scared of getting the IV, my teeth looking noticeably different/having black spaces/becoming loose/falling out, and the jaw thing.

So. All my fears are out there in the universe, dumped on you good people who are becoming my phobia community! Sorry about that. That list I just wrote makes me feel BEYOND SILLY AND RIDICULOUS and a little ashamed and like a coward, but those are the thoughts spinning around in the back of my head.

My husband will be in the waiting room the whole time, except hopefully they'll let him come with me when I have to get the IV - if I can just stare at him and squeeze the heck out of his hand, I will feel better.

The other thing I keep thinking is: do I REALLY need sedation? I had the root canal without it - just with my friends Xanax and Benadryl - and that went awesome. My second appointment I had to get five numbing shots for that root canal tooth and I did it sans medication and was also fine.

My husband says if I can make life easier for myself and NOT have to be "awake" and fully managing my own anxiety with diminishing levels of effectiveness from the oral medication, I should just do it, and therefore go forward with the sedation.

I'm worried that I have an opportunity to get over my fears by not having the sedation, since I've started getting over them already. But I think a full mouth deep cleaning requires a zillion numbing shots, and I don't think I want to have to manage that, or being super aware for four hours.

Any thoughts, encouragement, and wishes for me appreciated. I'm so scared! GAAAAAH! I'm so happy to be taking steps to overcoming this lifelong fear though.

If I survive, I will report back here soon. Toodles.
I would never suggest any person (phobic or not) to take on that amount of dental work at one time without sedation for a few reasons. Number 1, jaw fatigue...I suppose they could give you bite block to allow your jaw to rest in the open position but it seems like too much fatigue for your jaw to try to consciously stay open for that long. Number 2, the length of time just from a perspective of sensory overload/claustrophobia...that is just a really long time to lay with people hovering over you and a dozen things in your mouth while your fight/flight response is on overdrive. If you were going to do no sedation, I would highly suggest you break it up into shorter more manageable appointments addressing one or two things at a time. If you would prefer to just get things over with, sedation is your best bet for sure. You can always work on bulding a relationship with the dental team during routine cleaning/exam appointments under less stressful circumstances. It sounds like you still have some anxiety over not being in control and the idea of sedation can amplify that fear for obvious reasons. Maybe prior to the IV, you could tell the staff your specific fears or write them down and give them to the dentist so that they can better put you at ease.
I really hope it goes well. Sorry, I can't add much to that, but your courage and bravery will come and in just a matter of hours you'll have so much behind you. And you'll be calming me down in a few weeks reminding me how much it is worth it, cos you'll have been there and done it. All the best!
Courage and Bravery.. you are indeed couragous, you are tackling this head on just wow.. it takes alot to do that. the worst is right before up to the point of walking in the door.. next thing you know you'll be waking from the sedation. I hope you will have a great peace and your husband will be able to be back and hold your hand as long as possible . May your voice be heard clearly and every concern addressed compassionately!! and the IV be put in very easily. My daughet had some type of cream applied ahead of time to make the iv not felt as much going in. might be something to ask about. Some of the people doing this though are amazing and you can't even notice much.. wishing you the very best in this. let us know how it goes!!
Hi all. I lived! I was there from 12:30 to about 5:30.

I got everything that was planned done - the full mouth scaling and root planing, the three cavities filled, a crown on my root canal tooth, a pulp cap (I don't actually know what that is, it's on the bill but I never asked, probably something related to the crown on my root canal tooth) and a fluoride treatment.

Short version: Easy easy easy, honestly easier than getting blood drawn at a lab for an annual physical, I can't believe I waited this long to take care of my mouth.

More detail: We went to the dentist's office, I was super calm and composed but joking about being terrified, which I was, HA. I went to the bathroom and came back, but not before eyeing the elevator and considering running out and leaving the country but decided I couldn't do that to one of my cats. This was me completely drug-free, folks!

Went back to waiting room, had a super nice chat with the dentist, introduced him to my hubby, he confirmed I'm not pregnant, confirmed I'd not eaten anything for 8 hours or drank anything for two hours, asked how my seasonal asthma is currently (I'd asked my doctor and taken two puffs of my inhaler an hour before getting to the dentist), and made really nice conversation with hubby and me. He asked how much root canal tooth is doing (fine, no problems) and how my endo experience was (terrific.) He congratulated me on the breakthrough and was so warm. I told him the endo used a pediatric bite wedge that was very comfortable, and my dentist said that he actually ONLY uses pediatric bite wedges for adults because they give more than enough room for tools and cause minimal jaw trouble. Once we were done chatting, he gave me a little liquid to drink right then and there. Like a tiny shot of robitussin. I remember feeling worried about needing to pee again - like, this is going to be four hours and I drank a carton of coconut water two hours ago to be as hydrated as possible for my IV, have I fully emptied my bladder? Around this time I also remember telling my husband that parts of the room seemed to be moving. My husband says I then went to the bathroom again and was very wobbly so he and a lovely lady hygienist accompanied me. This I don't remember to be honest.

Then I do remember sitting in a dental chair in a room (don't remember walking there though) while we all chatted. It was dark in the room, relaxing. My husband was sitting near my feet as things around the room were set up. Apparently weddings came up and I talked about our own wedding like a perfectly normal person who seemed a little sleepy, and my husband talked about ours too (our dentist's child is getting married, yay!, so this was organic.) I don't TOTALLY remember this but I have a hazy recollection of it.

I hazily remember some sticky patches (probably for the heart monitor) being put on my... neck maybe? Maybe chest? Maybe back? No idea, all of this done without removing or moving my clothes, and by women hygienists, done in a second. Then something freezing cold was sprayed onto my hand (to help with the IV insertion) and that's when I just plain don't remember a thing. My husband says he stood up to stand right next to me, bent down so his face would be next to mine, held my hand and talked to me, but I was super relaxed and sleepy and calm. He says the dentist had glasses with super bright lights and a cool instrument that illuminated my veins that he said is helpful but not to be used a crutch in anesthesiology. Husband says I didn't have any reaction to the IV going in and it was done very quickly. They started the IV meds, I again had no reaction. We apparently were all still chatting nicely. My husband apparently joked with me if I wanted to count backward from 10 (I told him I wanted to beforehand to see how far I'd get) but the dentist said he preferred for us to continue talking about happy, pleasant things, including our happy wedding memories, I think because sometimes you wake up feeling as you did right before the sedation kicks in. Then eventually I gradually stopped talked and appeared to fall asleep, and that was hubby's exit from the room. He said it was hard to just leave, like I was so vulnerable and not the hellion I apparently usually am (thanks husband), but he trusted the whole team and went to the waiting room.

I don't remember ANYTHING until I just slowly, gradually woke up, like an awareness of the situation returned when they were done. I was covered with a blanket. No panic or fear, just peaceful waking up to dimmed lights. Two hygienists were with me and super sweet. They removed my IV and I wanted to be anxious about that but was too relaxed and couldn't be, and then literally didn't feel it come out. I only knew it was out because of the teeny bandaid that suddenly appeared. They took off the heart patch things too. They kept on for longer a pulse oxygen monitor on my finger and my hazy self saw 98s and 100s and felt like a rockstar at breathing. Eventually the doctor came in and asked how I was feeling. And I was feeling fine, by the way. No pain. The weirdest thing was that my lips felt like balloons, and I couldn't feel any part of my mouth and kept apologizing for drooling, but wasn't. My husband came in and I told everyone, in what is apparently my altered mind state, how much I love them and thanked them. Many times. Like, forty times.

I laid in place for a while, they gave me chocolate ice cream to eat (I couldn't feel anything and the hygienist literally spoon fed me.) They also had chicken soup waiting but I couldn't eat it just then and felt ok post chocolate ice cream. I don't know if they gave me water at some point but my mouth was dry but not as dry as it was post 90 minute root canal.

I stood up and they hung onto me though I wobbled A LOT, staggered around, crashed softly into a wall, and it was determined that I needed to sit a bit in the waiting room. Then they called downstairs to the doorman and arranged for a back door to be opened so we'd have a shorter walk to the parking garage. Two hygienists and my husband physically flanked me the whole walk from the dentist's office down a hallway, down the elevator, out the back way of the building, and a half block to the parking garage. I profusely told the building staff who opened the back door how wonderful and incredible they are and in turn they said I seem like a great lady. The hygienists held onto me on the street while my husband got the car out of the garage and brought it across the street. The hygienists asked about my marriage, I asked about their lives, etc. One said she hopes she'll meet someone soon. I remember telling her that she'd get married soon, I just knew it (as an aside, since when did I basically turn into my mom and start telling people they'll get married soon?) This was their closing time, so the hygienists were bundled up and on their way home. I offered them a ride, they kindly declined, thinking I'm crazy. Then we were off. We stopped at our pharmacy to pick up strong pain meds in case they are needed tomorrow. Hubby has a movie of me gently walking into walls for thirty seconds going down the hall to our apartment while telling him "I am walking like a boss" and "I haven't told you I love you," which I basically told him 100 times today.

We came home, I ate the chicken soup they sent and a super soft pasta leftover, and we watched The Devil Wears Prada. I cannot tell you why, just that it happened. My dentist called around 9 PM and asked how I am. He said to take two Aleve at 11 PM (done) and reminded me of the pain meds in case I need them, said to expect some left over blood when I brush, told me everything went well, and said his office would call tomorrow, because I'll need a standard cleaning soon to get anything that becomes visible after my gums shrink back from the cleaning, and of course because we'll need to figure out the wisdoom teeth plan.

My husband filled me in on parts of the visit he was there for that I don't remember. He said in the waiting room once during the procedure, he heard me yelp and got concerned and asked what happened to me, and a few minutes later, the dentist came out and explained that I suddenly woke but wasn't in pain, was just alarmed, and that I immediately (in seconds) fell back asleep. When the procedure was done, the dentist went out and spent 20 minutes with my husband, five minutes to say all went well and answer questions, and the rest just talking about life.

Considering I don't remember even getting the IV... Highly recommend.

After almost 30 years of being so scared and NEVER seeing a dentist, to having three experiences in one month, one with quasi-oral sedation, one with really nothing, and one with IV sedation, and for them all to have gone well...

I am elated.

Next project will be consultations with oral surgeons for wisdom teeth (coronectomies for 1-2, standard extractions for 2-3, and bone graft for one.)

But dentist also said if for some reason we NEED to start trying the conception process now, it's ok. He thinks the wisdom teeth will not flare up, but of course he does recommend handling now, and I agree and will start the consultation process in the two weeks he recommends I wait to heal.

Re: my big fears that I wrote here about yesterday:
- I don't remember the IV going in but hubby says it was a non-event and I didn't even react
- I don't have jaw pain currently, doctor said if I do have it, will probably be tomorrow or Saturday. My general physician said to take a low dose of valium if I get jaw pain, and I also have an opiate from the dentist. I'm hoping to need neither because I generally hate taking drugs.
- My teeth look AWESOME, people. Mostly they look the same to me, just clean. The one place where there's a visible difference is the front bottom teeth. I had A LOT of calculus buildup (three decades worth) there. It's gone now! There is a minuscule space where the calculus used to be but it doesn't look bad. It just looks like a clean mouth. I can't believe it! I love it!
- And no teeth feel loose. And now that I can see what the scaling/root planing result is, I understand that that shouldn't have been a fear for me.
- And BTW, I can't even see the fillings I had (are they really there?) nor can I feel anything weird on the crowned tooth. It looks like a normal tooth. So far my bite feels the same.

THANK YOU FOR THE SUPPORT. Community is very powerful. You're all the best.
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Quick update: I had my long IV session on Thursday afternoon and right now it's Sunday night. I'm happy with my clean mouth. There is some space between the bottom front teeth where I had decades of calculus buildup, but it isn't unsightly and I'm good with it. I do wish I'd taken care of my teeth in the first place, but it's ok, have to forgive myself, I'll be taking care of them now.

I followed the dentist's advice to take Aleve (naproxen) every eight hours for the first day after the procedure. But after that I was inconsistent because I felt inordinately tired and needed to be high energy for my little nephews this weekend. Today I have been more consistent in taking Aleve every eight hours though, because when I have not taken it, I have felt the soreness in my jaw. It's not pain, and while I certainly appreciated the heavy painkillers provided by the dentist just in case, I have not needed to take them at all, the Aleve is more than enough. It's just a soreness that I'm positive will go away as I heal. I also noticed that the Aleve seemed to help more than ibuprofen, so am sticking with that.

Gums have not bled at all, the crown on my root canal molar feels and looks good so far, and I know I got three fillings, but I can't see them - literally - tomorrow I'm going to try and inspect to make sure they're there!

I have been using a new Sonicare toothbrush that was a bit of a splurge but am liking it so far, and tomorrow I'm going to resurrect my Water Pik, which i haven't been using to give my gums time to heal. Excited to start using it again.
I'd get the endodontist to do the root canal, the results are much better and more predictable under a microscope.
The rubber bite block is to make it easier for your jaw, it saves your muscles from the constant effort involved in keeping it open.
Would it be possible to change the order of treatment around a bit so that you get the easier stuff done first by your general dentist, with IV sedation if you want it, which will then make the root canal a bit less of a big step into the unknown for you? Basically a root canal is just a longer more boring filling procedure :)

Yes, to me root canal seems similar in experience to a filling but without drillin and it may take longer.. It seems like small pipe-cleaner type things are used plus things that seem like mini files. They flush out the tooth with a liquid and then fill it with a protective substance.

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