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Extreme Dental Phobia (Brought on by a childhood experience)

S

StarBar545

Junior member
Joined
Sep 26, 2019
Messages
1
Location
Northampton
Hello everybody, today I thought I would share my issues and concerns with people who have similar issues to me. My concerns regarding my oral health, as well as my mental health. Something I have had a very tough time living with and it has been very hard to go through. I am currently 21 years old, 22 next month. When I was a young boy (cannot remember specific age) I believe in the range of 7-10 years old. I underwent an operation to have 10 teeth removed after I received 4 fillings from a dentist (I never had issues prior to this, from what I can remember) During these times I remember being shown the mask that would be used to put me under ready for an operation. I went to the hospital one day with my mother and sat in the chair, completely oblivious to what was actually going to happen. The dentist or surgeon placed a mask over my nose and mouth and proceeded to pump oxygen through the equipment. He then said "it's going to get a little bit smelly now" and I remember the instant change in the smell (Amazing what I can remember). I panicked and tried to fight it off. However they held me down and held the mask to my face by force and I then woke up with most of my teeth removed. Ever since this experience I have found it hard to go for any surgery whatsoever not just dental treatment. I have battled through agonising pain to the point that the teeth no longer cause pain. My teeth have become very bad and I am in need of urgent treatment. I cannot cope with the anxiety and it's affecting my mental health as well as my Oral and physical health. I can no longer chew, I never want to smile. The last thing I think about before I go sleep and the first thing I think about when I wake up. It has had a major effect on my life. I don't want to see people. I fear the absolute worst. I worry about my smile. People have pointed out about my teeth before so I know they are noticeably bad. Especially at my age. I am struggling with basic everyday life because of this. It feels like a phobia so strong sometimes I would rather just lay and forget about everything. It's amazing how much effect something that seems so small and insignificant to others is a real major issue for me. The embarrassment, the fear of hearing bad news, makes me feel exceptionally anxious and I sometimes cry because of the way it makes me feel. The issue of dental Phobia is very real and I have found it really hard to reach out and seek any medical help. I feel like it's an unrecognised medical condition that affects a lot of people. However my case feels extreme to me. I have lost 8 of my adult teeth. I need treatment. Plucking up the courage is not as easy as it may seem. I feel the issue is to do with my mental health. Something implemented in my mind when I was young that has spiralled out of control into my adult life. I had to share how I felt in hope I am not the only person because I have felt like if I visited the dentist I would have to say something like "this will be the worst case you have ever seen" it brings on panic attacks for me even thinking about it. People have mentioned the first step to recovery is to share the issue and I have come to this forum to do just that. I've always felt like I'm never going to be able to overcome this phobia because that's what I have, an extreme phobia of absolutely anything to do with any type of dental work. Needles. The room. The smell. The noise. The dentist themselves. It's hard to find somebody who will understand. The last thing I want to do is sit and waste professionals time because of my anxiety. But how am I ever supposed to get any treatment if I cannot find a dentist who can help me with my issues I'm having. Who won't feel like they're wasting my time and are prepared to help me overcome this because it's not going to happen overnight an I know it isn't. I have sat and thought deeply about this since the age of 14 when my teeth began to decay. Now they're all going. And I need to get help without causing a scene of extreme panic in a dentist(when I do manage to bring myself to see one) losing my teeth at such a young age is embarrassing for me
 
kitkat

kitkat

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Mar 27, 2006
Messages
1,564
Location
United States
StarBar,
You are certainly not alone in your fears and it is very courageous of you to make them known on this forum. Scientific studies have actually shown that among the senses, smells are very closely linked to memories so I am not surprised to read that you can recall the smell of the gas and that smells may be a strong trigger for your anxiety. I think that your fears are quite valid, given your previous experience and unfortunately, I have read about many similar childhood experiences on this forum from other members. My heart hurts for you as I can sense how much you are suffering. You are correct that dental phobia does not get the recognition it deserves and it’s a shame that there are so many negative stigmas associated with it keeping people from getting the help they need. The good news is that first, there are many wonderful and compassionate dentists out there who are devoting themselves to helping people just like you (take a look at the success stories section of the forum if you don’t believe me) and second, you are no longer a child so no matter how long your dental journey takes, it will be at your pace and you will always be in control. Have you considered speaking with a mental health professional (such as a counselor) regarding how to best approach this? Many people who are severely phobic of dental work will opt for sedation but given the bad anesthesia experience, I’m not sure that would be the best path for you. It is certainly possible to be successful without sedation with the right dentist/dental team and many have gone that route as well. You are very well spoken in your post. Some members have had success sending emails, fb messages, or letters to dentist offices and decided who to move forward with based on written correspondences. We are here to support you so feel free to vent, ask questions, or update as much as you need to! There are lots of people here who have your back!
 
krlovesherkids777

krlovesherkids777

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 26, 2017
Messages
2,770
Location
Minneapolis, MN
Starbar545,

Welcome to DFC. We are really glad you are here and you are very brave to share your story and in great company of many who are among some of the most resiliant people I"ve ever met ! Just like Kitkat , I can feel the pain and depth of your experiences and so sorry you had to go through that as a child. I can so imagine, you wouldn't want to go anywhere near a dentist with your experiences as a child. I do agree with Kitkat too , and actually I was just talking to my psychologist about the smell and senses thing that even a smell or specific sound or way of something that is close to the trauma can just bring you right back to being at that place in your body and the trigger is real.. It is wise you proceed slowly and find the right dentist to help in your timing and not rush anything. There are some wonderful testimonies here of dentists who have really taken their time to understand the patients and go very slowly with things.

I myself when my previous dentist left his first practice I contacted many offices to see how they would respond on FB telling them I am very anxious and ashamed and asked how they dealt with patients who were anxious. There were a few who invited me for a free meet and great , and not even sitting in any dental chair.. but just seeing the office and them asking about my experiences and one gal dentist, she said nothing about her at all, it was all about understanding what I needed and trying to see if I'd be comfortable there. Which I totally would have been had I not found my dentist again. There were a few more that reached back out to me. I didn't have time to meet many . But they are out there.. and the right one will go at a pace that is comfortable for you and want to understand you and what you've been through and listen to you.

You deserve the kindest treatment one can offer.. It will take time and trust one step at a time. We are here for you!!
 
S

Spider

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 26, 2013
Messages
107
Location
Pacific Northwest, USA
That is an incredibly traumatic experience :( I have a 7 and 10 year old and I have tears in my eyes thinking about them going through the same thing :(

I love that we have access to online reviews, and I've spent hours "researching" dentists in my area by reading through all of their reviews on google. Thats how I found my current dentist, who is amazing with my anxiety. You must also remember that you're a paying customer. I experienced childhood trauma at the dentist (being held down, and treated like I was being a nuisance and lying about feeling pain, etc) so I automatically go back to that "victim" mindset. We pay the dentist a good sum of money for their services and they should never, ever, act like we're inconveniencing them and they should never make you feel shame.

Its very brave of you to come here. Please keep us updated xx
 
S

Shakinginmyboots

Member
Joined
May 7, 2019
Messages
35
Location
New Jersey
This breaks my heart because I also thought of my teeth first thing in the morning and last thing at night. One day I just said enough is enough and called. I could kick myself I wasted all that time worrying.
You received great advice already. Do some online research, see if you can get sedation and find someone who is good with anxiety. You are way too young to live with this dread when you should be enjoying life. You took the first step by coming here. Well done.
 
H

Historian

Junior member
Joined
Sep 24, 2019
Messages
14
Location
Pennsylvania
Hello everybody, today I thought I would share my issues and concerns with people who have similar issues to me. My concerns regarding my oral health, as well as my mental health. Something I have had a very tough time living with and it has been very hard to go through. I am currently 21 years old, 22 next month. When I was a young boy (cannot remember specific age) I believe in the range of 7-10 years old. I underwent an operation to have 10 teeth removed after I received 4 fillings from a dentist (I never had issues prior to this, from what I can remember) During these times I remember being shown the mask that would be used to put me under ready for an operation. I went to the hospital one day with my mother and sat in the chair, completely oblivious to what was actually going to happen. The dentist or surgeon placed a mask over my nose and mouth and proceeded to pump oxygen through the equipment. He then said "it's going to get a little bit smelly now" and I remember the instant change in the smell (Amazing what I can remember). I panicked and tried to fight it off. However they held me down and held the mask to my face by force and I then woke up with most of my teeth removed. Ever since this experience I have found it hard to go for any surgery whatsoever not just dental treatment. I have battled through agonising pain to the point that the teeth no longer cause pain. My teeth have become very bad and I am in need of urgent treatment. I cannot cope with the anxiety and it's affecting my mental health as well as my Oral and physical health. I can no longer chew, I never want to smile. The last thing I think about before I go sleep and the first thing I think about when I wake up. It has had a major effect on my life. I don't want to see people. I fear the absolute worst. I worry about my smile. People have pointed out about my teeth before so I know they are noticeably bad. Especially at my age. I am struggling with basic everyday life because of this. It feels like a phobia so strong sometimes I would rather just lay and forget about everything. It's amazing how much effect something that seems so small and insignificant to others is a real major issue for me. The embarrassment, the fear of hearing bad news, makes me feel exceptionally anxious and I sometimes cry because of the way it makes me feel. The issue of dental Phobia is very real and I have found it really hard to reach out and seek any medical help. I feel like it's an unrecognised medical condition that affects a lot of people. However my case feels extreme to me. I have lost 8 of my adult teeth. I need treatment. Plucking up the courage is not as easy as it may seem. I feel the issue is to do with my mental health. Something implemented in my mind when I was young that has spiralled out of control into my adult life. I had to share how I felt in hope I am not the only person because I have felt like if I visited the dentist I would have to say something like "this will be the worst case you have ever seen" it brings on panic attacks for me even thinking about it. People have mentioned the first step to recovery is to share the issue and I have come to this forum to do just that. I've always felt like I'm never going to be able to overcome this phobia because that's what I have, an extreme phobia of absolutely anything to do with any type of dental work. Needles. The room. The smell. The noise. The dentist themselves. It's hard to find somebody who will understand. The last thing I want to do is sit and waste professionals time because of my anxiety. But how am I ever supposed to get any treatment if I cannot find a dentist who can help me with my issues I'm having. Who won't feel like they're wasting my time and are prepared to help me overcome this because it's not going to happen overnight an I know it isn't. I have sat and thought deeply about this since the age of 14 when my teeth began to decay. Now they're all going. And I need to get help without causing a scene of extreme panic in a dentist(when I do manage to bring myself to see one) losing my teeth at such a young age is embarrassing for me
You are not alone and you are not crazy. Many people here have had traumatizing experiences in the past. If your oral health is suffering I would shop around for a great dentist and interview with them. If they cannot make time to do an interview and make you feel co didn't in them, then move on! Your health is so so important and although it is difficult, you must always remember not to let that horrible experience affect your health today. Some dentists can prescribe you medicine to make you feel calm before an appointment, so maybe that is something to ask about as well. Best of luck to you and you are so strong and capable and will get this figured out. 🌞
 
Enarete

Enarete

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 18, 2017
Messages
2,538
Dear StarBar545,
so sorry to read about your traumatic chidlhood experiences and about your suffering. You already got some great replies, but I wanted to offer support as well. Posting here is not easy, but you did it and that‘s a first step forwards.

Now, first of all, no matter where your teeth are at right now, there are huge possibilities in dentistry and I know there will be a solution that will make you smile and talk to people again. I know you can‘t even think of seeing a dentist at this stage, but just keep this in your mind.

There are amazing dentists out there and some of them put huge efforts into building trust, going at your pace and finding ways for you to be able to get treatment. I know of a dentist who is willing to meet his patients in a cafe to have a chat, I also have heard of a first consultation in a car park because the person was too scared to come in. The second consultation was in the reception area, the third one finally in the surgery. Many dentists who would be perfectly happy to chat with you and who do not even need to take a look in your mouth if you do not feel up to.

I know thinking about this is a lot at the moment and you don‘t have to, but again, just keep it in your mind when the moment comes. If there is any next step you feel able to do now, be it just reading about how to find a dentist or googling about practices in your area, or reading success stories or whatever, then do it. And not feeling able to is fine as well, because you are already moving forward anyway.

All the best wishes and keep us posted
 
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