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Embarrassed to go to the dentist

J

JLambda

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Joined
Jan 2, 2020
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13
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United Kingdom
Hello everyone! I am so thankful that I have found this forum.

My basic situation is that I know I need to see the dentist, but I am embarrassed -- ashamed -- to go and get the help that I need. For context, I have just finished high school and have been distracted by my work -- and wanting to do a good job in my first real job -- that professional dental care has become an afterthought. That said, I do eat healthily. Over the last few months, I have been slowly taking myself away from sugar (I now no longer consume sugar) and snacks (I usually just eat during mealtimes, now).

This may sound like I am worrying about nothing, but I know that I am not. When I was in my final year of school, I was very stressed -- about exams, about living up to expectations, everything. There were days when I cried about going to school, and everything felt as though the future didn't matter. I would wake up in the morning and have to drag myself out of bed, only to feel bad throughout the day. So I reverted to a -- foolish -- coping mechanism: eating. I would eat cookies every day at school, in order to cope. For a few minutes a day, everything seemed fine, and my tiredness and stress were alleviated.

Now, I am looking to go to the dentist. I went for a check-up last May and they told me that I needed a clean, but that was during the exam diet and, to be honest, school was occupying most of my headspace. I had to think about five exams, and could not deal with any more stress on my plate. Looking at my teeth, I know I have some tartar build-up, and that is causing me problems. But I do not feel strong enough to go to the dentist.

Last night, I woke up at around midnight and I worried; yesterday, I broke down and resorted to prayer (which is rare for me). I have tried to make myself feel better -- by saying "dentists will have seen a lot worse," and "I am not the only person going through this" -- but those efforts have thus far proved unhelpful. Above all, I am embarrassed about what the dentist will say: "why did you not come in sooner," "you need a lot of work done," and everything else. I regret how I have treated my teeth -- but I am starting to accept that even if were I back in school, I would have likely eaten the same, given the stress I was under -- but I can't bring myself to seek help.

Any help would be appreciated, especially success stories and coping mechanisms. I am yet to schedule an appointment, but I am starting to feel better and know that, with some work, I'll get there. Thanks!
 
BoxerMom

BoxerMom

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Jun 23, 2019
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Us
Hi there and welcome! Most of us can relate to how you’re feeling, so you’re definitely not alone. And you’re right, dentists have seen much, much worse and a good dentist won’t lecture you or make you feel bad about the state of your teeth. The most important thing my dentist said to me when I finally made that first appointment was that we don’t worry about the past, we only worry about going forward and getting you healthy. I’ve never felt any judgement from any of the staff, and I’ve had to forgive myself for what I allowed to happen. This is the only way I’ve been able to move forward. Your feelings are valid, but once you find out what’s going on, you’ll probably see it’s not as bad as you think right now.
 
J

JLambda

Junior member
Joined
Jan 2, 2020
Messages
13
Location
United Kingdom
Thanks for your message, I appreciate it.

My rational mind knows that dentists are there to help, and that, with a little bit of work, I can get back to normal again. I also understand that there are people in this forum who are suffering from worse conditions as well, and that even other patients in the dental practice I attend will have worse teeth.

But I can't bring myself to internalize that fact. For some reason, every time I think about going to the dentists, I could almost cry. I'll have to admit that I made a series of bad decisions. I'll have to walk in there knowing that I should have came months ago. And I'll have to walk in knowing that, even after that appointment, I'll have to come back for more. I think -- and really hope -- that all I'll need is a clean. (I've had some tartar for a couple of months, but it is only on my front teeth and I haven't had any intense pain or anything like that, and last time I went they only recommended a visit to the hygienist)

This has been on my mind for over a month now, and I just can't stop thinking about it. But talking about this is definitely helping, and I'm interested in hearing how other people are getting through the anxiety they are facing. Would love to hear from anyone else who has felt embarrassed about their teeth.

Thanks so much!
 
krlovesherkids777

krlovesherkids777

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Jul 26, 2017
Messages
2,859
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Minneapolis, MN
JLambda,

Welcome again to DFc.. We are glad you are here and processing your anxiety and embarassment. For me too, I have really dealt with a ton of embarrassement up until the age 30 I had alot of shaming dental experiences as well as my mother being very shaming. at the age of 30 I walked into a dental office timid as anything covering my mouth. She very kindly helped me overcome my embarrassment with her and she helped me alot in my dental journey, due to personal reasons I coudn't go other anymore then went to a few others. along the way still embarrassed..

My last dentist I put everything out there as far as my embarrassment and shame and I had some really freeing and healing appointments in this regards. I thought I would share a video from Dr Daniel, one of the dentists on here that is really good on this topic.

Hope you can get to a good kind dentist to help you in your dental journey.

 
BoxerMom

BoxerMom

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Jun 23, 2019
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Oh I cried plenty of times just thinking about picking up the phone to call, so much that I had to ask my husband to make the appointment. The days leading up to the first appointment (in more than 20 years) were rough, and the day of the appointment I had to take a couple of Xanax and have my husband drive me in. Ugh. No, it wasn’t easy, it wasn’t without shame, but everyone was so kind and understanding. I’ve made it through - in my case my teeth were so bad that dentures were my only option. Please know I know exactly how you feel, as many others here as well. My fear and phobia were based on past painful experiences. I don’t have any more pain, and without teeth anymore, I know I won’t experience the same pain that triggered my phobia. I still tense up once I’m sitting in the chair, but nothing near to what I used to experience.
 
J

JLambda

Junior member
Joined
Jan 2, 2020
Messages
13
Location
United Kingdom
Thank you for the warm welcome, krlovesherkids777, and for your comment, BoxerMom.

You have no idea how great it feels to know other people are going through what I am right now (or have been through it in the past). I haven't really told anyone in my "real life" what I am going through out of embarrassment, and having this forum has made it easier for me to process what I am going through.

I am working on an action plan right now, for the record. I'm going to stop thinking about this for now -- I have work to do and stressing about this isn't helping -- and resolve to schedule an appointment next Tuesday (the next day I could feasibly get to the practice). Then, I'll just see how things go. I really -- really -- hope that I only need a professional clean (I needed it nine months ago), because I have had good experiences with hygienists in the past (it's the dentist that really bothers me).

My current thinking is that I have made mistakes, but I couldn't control my behavior when I made them. When I would go to school, the only thing that mattered was making it home in the evening and going to bed; there was no way I could exercise any more self-restraint. Now, months on, my diet is different. I should have been to the dentist sooner, but there's nothing I can do about that. What I can do is resolve to get checked out in the near future, so this will all be in the past quickly.

If you have any coping tips, please do share them with me. But, seriously, you have no idea how much better I feel now than I did this morning.
 
Dg6300

Dg6300

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Oct 27, 2017
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You’re going to make it!

Be sure to post your success story when you do (when, not if).
 
R

ReginaPhalange

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Joined
Dec 11, 2018
Messages
178
Location
UK
I wish I had taken steps at your age. Instead, I waited till I was 38. And honestly, in the past year, after more than 20 years of neglect, the worst part was making the appointment and walking into it.

Trust me, if I can do it, you can. The dentist didn't say anything to shame me at all, and didn't say I needed a lot of work done (although I did, 20 years, remember! Even then, it was much less than I expected). He never worded anything in a way that made me feel bad or like it was my fault.

I think it helped that I mentioned in my email that I was very nervous. He treated me really well. And when I finally went to the hygeniest, he had passed on everything she needed to know (that I hadn't been for a while, and he probably told her to be nice to me!).

My story is on the Support forum, it's long but if you read the start of it and the end, you'll see that it's possible to overcome these feelings. I had so many reasons to be nervous, but I think my biggest problem was embarrassment, so once that was gone, going to the dentist became normal. I've still never told anyone I know that I hadn't been going regularly, but when dentists come up in conversation I can now join in and not run away!

Well done for taking action so young. I doubt you'll need much done after such a short time. You'll do great!
 
J

JLambda

Junior member
Joined
Jan 2, 2020
Messages
13
Location
United Kingdom
Thanks for all of your support. I sincerely hope that I'll not need much done, because the last time I was at the dentist was nine months ago. That said, I did eat very poorly -- many biscuits each day -- and had no regard for the future at the time.

I have done some reading and the symptoms I have -- tartar buildup and localized bleeding gums when I brush behind my lower front teeth -- seem to indicate that a clean is the best first course of action. I am really ashamed of what I have let happen, and I don't want to tell anyone about it either (my parents both have bad teeth, and always told me to take care of mine). I do not recall a time where I have been more scared in my life.

I'll schedule an appointment next Tuesday, and hope that I can get an appointment toward the end of next week or the start of the following week (this may be ambitious, but I'd love to see a dentist sooner, rather than later). Then, hopefully, this will all be over by the end of the month.
 
J

JLambda

Junior member
Joined
Jan 2, 2020
Messages
13
Location
United Kingdom
I am looking for some quick help. I am thinking about going into my dental practice in an hour to schedule an appointment and would love some guidance.

My main question is: I am 17 (and in the UK), can I schedule an appointment by myself (and without my parents knowing)? Last time I went to the dentist, nobody came along with me, so perhaps this is just my mind trying to prevent me from doing something I fear. Also, what do I need to do to schedule an appointment? Do I just walk in and say I want to schedule one? If so, what do I say?

Apologies for all of the questions -- and I know you are all very busy people -- but I feel like I am really close to taking the next step.
 
J

JLambda

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Joined
Jan 2, 2020
Messages
13
Location
United Kingdom
Well, I went to the dental practice only to find out that they were closed. Here's what was going through my mind.

As I was walking to the practice, I had to go slowly, and stopped a few times to think. Then, I actually got to the dentists and it felt great. The practice was closed and there was a notice on the door stating that it would be open again on Monday (apparently the New Years' holidays are extended there).

Now, however, I feel discouraged. On my way, I built up a lot of confidence, and thought I was ready to approach this challenge, but I don't have those same feelings anymore. I feel really let down because I tried, and I couldn't do anything.

Note: I am using this thread as a journal too, but would still appreciate any input y'all have.
 
krlovesherkids777

krlovesherkids777

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Jlambda,

Glad you are doing a journal here! It is great to both reflect and also get the feedback and encouragement. You were really brave deciding to go over there today. Really sorry you were unable to catch anyone and they were out.. I hope these feelings of bravery and courage will come to you again on Monday. I believe you have it in you to do it with all you've shared. especially being 17 and having the desire to do this and go bravely forward .. this is huge!! I hope you can make it, and everything will turn out well for you!!
 
Enarete

Enarete

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Sep 18, 2017
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Hi JLambda,

glad you managed to just walk to the practice, very well done. I can see how you would like to get an apt asap to get over with and at the same time do not want to go. I see the hope of only having to go once, however I would encourage you to see a dentist regularly and try to get used to going. It will serve you very will in the future. In this regard, walking in was a great idea and the more often you walk by/ walk in/ talk to a receptionist, the better, however I appreciate it's scary.

You seem to be really hard with yourself. You mentioned having been stressed by living up to expectations in your last year at school and it was a really hard time for you so my feel is that this dental might not be the only thing that makes you feel like "some mistakes cannot be taken back". There are people who struggle with self-criticism and pressure more than others, sometimes it's what we just learned as children. By the way, at your age, it is still your parents who should take care of you getting dental care regularly. Taking the responsibility on your own is a huge thing and not easy, so please, stay kind to yourself and see your achievements as well.

You would be surprised how many people cope with stress through food, particularly sweets. Sugar rewards our brains, gives us quick energy and tastes good. Besides unhealthy food is quick and easy to get so if you had such a stressful time and no energy to plan healthy food, it is no surprise that your diet wasn't great. Give yourself a huge pat on your back for seeing this and adjusting your diet at 17, there are plenty of much older people who still struggle with this :)

If you managed to see a dentist in May, you will manage it again (and you already managed by walking there yesterday). If the dentist back then made you feel they would judge you for not coming back earlier, I can only encourage you to try a different one. By the way, embarrassment is one of the top reasons why people struggle to get back to dental care. We have a very extensive article about this here.

You got some really helpful replies already and please feel free to browse and read the threads of others and the success stories. This site has been around for 13 years and there are about 190.000 posts full of success stories, things that helped people and encouraging things so you definitely will find a lot of encouragement.
One of good things to get clarity about is what do you need to feel more able to cope with an appointment?

All the best wishes and keep us posted:grouphug:
 
J

JLambda

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Jan 2, 2020
Messages
13
Location
United Kingdom
Thanks for your kind words, everyone.

I am hoping that, after this is all over, I can resume my regular dental care routine and visit the dentist at the appropriate times. I prefer to walk in because I believe that some business should be done in person, and I think it served as a good way to familiarize myself with the environment.

To be honest, I would involve my parents, but I am ashamed to even bring it up in conversation. I never told anyone how I felt about school last year, in large part because I ended up getting excellent grades and moved onto a job. I would feel bad coming to the dentist with my parents after having been in work for months now, and being given so much autonomy over my life (only to let them down by saying that my teeth are not great).

In Scotland, once you are 16 you can consent to medical/dental treatments and are considered legally responsible for your actions, which means that my parents technically are not responsible any more. If they were, I'm not sure I would be making these steps today.

I may be overly self-critical, but that is because I have high standards for myself that I have set over the years. I want to continue making progress, and I can only do that once this is out of the way. My dentist last year was really nice and after looking around for a few minutes, he referred me to a hygienist.

I am grateful for all of those who have responded thus far and assisted me in my journey. There's still a long way to go, but I am hopeful that I can make progress soon.

The affirmation I keep coming back to is: it's not my fault. What happened yesterday (in this case, last year) is no longer who I am as a person. I am a new person today, and I have new things to do. I keep reading over stories on this forum and I know that, with some work, I'll be able to get through this.
 
T

Thephilsblogbar

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Apr 23, 2015
Messages
661
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United Kingdom
I been going to the dentist but still get very embarrassed about my teeth.

I hate them, overcroding problems. I had work done on them, a few filings. root canal, etc
 
J

JLambda

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Joined
Jan 2, 2020
Messages
13
Location
United Kingdom
Hello everyone,

I wanted to give you all a quick update. I had a dental appointment scheduled yesterday, which I rescheduled for a few weeks. But today I faced up to the fact that I should go, and so I rescheduled for next Tuesday in the morning (the earliest appointment available). I am really nervous about going because I have tartar on my teeth and I know that I'll need treatment. As I have said before, I am embarrassed by how I let things get this bad, but now I am looking to take control and fix any problems.

What should I do to help me prepare?
 
Enarete

Enarete

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Thank you for coming back und update. Sounds like you are taking control and pushing yourself through the fear and embarrassment which is hard but the only thing that helps. Keeping my fingers crossed for Tuesday to come soon :)
As to preparing yourself.. well everyone is different so I would say whatever helps you to survive the waiting time in a comfortable way might be a good thing. There is also plenty of material here on the website so feel free to take a look around and see where it takes you. A general thing that might help you and your dentist is to get clear about of what worries you and also whether there is anything you feel might help you to cope. This would be a valuable and helpful for your dentist as they really want to help you and find a way to make you feel comfortable. Also a list of questions you would like to ask your dentist in case you get too nervous to remember stuff. It's also a good way to gain some time and keep your dentist busy answering and explaining things before they suggest to take a look at your teeth. :innocent:
 
J

JLambda

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Joined
Jan 2, 2020
Messages
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Location
United Kingdom
Thanks for the words of support, @Enarete! I keep telling myself that in two days, everything should be so much better and I will finally have visited the dentist!

I have been looking around and found a few useful resources -- thanks! Right now, I am worried about the appointment, but I know how great I'll feel when I finally go. I am also taking some time to prepare what I'll say when I get there.

It's going to be difficult to admit that, mid-last year, I did not treat my health with the respect that it deserved. And it's clear that is the case: there is tartar on my front teeth. But what matters now is that I am seeking help. I'm hoping that things will not be too bad because I had a check-up last May and, although a hygienist appointment was mentioned and I didn't go, my self-care habits have been a lot better.

I am really hoping that things go well at the appointment and that I don't need too much work done! I'll check back in closer to the time to share my feelings.
 
Enarete

Enarete

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It's going to be difficult to admit that, mid-last year, I did not treat my health with the respect that it deserved. And it's clear that is the case: there is tartar on my front teeth.
Let me reassure you here JLambda, most people have tartar on their teeth, some tend to get more, some less. Your dental team won't judge you for this and it is not automatically a proof of you not having taken care of your teeth. (however I do understand how difficult this is for you and to be completely clear I cried because of tartar too in the past)
 
J

JLambda

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Joined
Jan 2, 2020
Messages
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Location
United Kingdom
Thanks for sharing! That makes me feel so much better, seriously. I am trying not to blame myself for what has happened, and move forward. There’s still a long way to go, but I am feeling more positive about everything.

I’ll provide another update tomorrow, and then after the appointment. I can do this!
 
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