• Dental Phobia Support

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Extreme Phobia

M

Mikeday

Junior member
Joined
Oct 22, 2021
Messages
5
Location
West Sussex
Dear all, I am new to this forum and am seeking advice from anyone who has experience of severe dental anxiety. I never enjoyed going to the dentist, who does, but I now find myself in a position where I need a significant amount of dental work carried out (circa 3 extractions, 2 root canals, plus at least 2 posts/crowns). Normally I would just grin and bear this, but 18 months ago I was unlucky enough to suffer a major retinal detachment involving 3 tears (I went 90% blind overnight). The surgery was a success, but it was extremely traumatic and left me with debilitating PTSD and night terrors that required months of hypnotherapy treatment (I believe it's called EMDR). Anyway, I have just returned from a visit to my dentist (who is excellent by the way) and all of the anxiety and fear of surgical procedures came flooding back. I'm at a bit of a loss as to what to do next. I need the dentistry work but my condition literally cripples me with anxiety and irrational fear. It's so overwhelming that I nearly bolted for the door today. If anyone has any suggestions I would love to hear them. Many thanks. Mike.
 
Enarete

Enarete

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 18, 2017
Messages
3,255
Hi Mike :welcome:,

so sorry to read about your situation. It is not unusual for people suffering from PTSD to struggle with dental treatment. As your original trauma came from a medical setting, there is a similarity to the dentist anyway. The good news is that there are plenty of options. Before I jump into any suggestions, may I ask you how happy you were with EMDR? Did you feel like it resolved the trauma entirely? My first thought was that if you were happy with it, why not using it to tackle it the dental anxiety as well?

All the best wishes
 
M

Mikeday

Junior member
Joined
Oct 22, 2021
Messages
5
Location
West Sussex
Hi there, thanks so much for your reply. I'm not really sure about the EMDR to be honest. I think it helped slightly with the specifics of the eye operation but I definitely still have some deep rooted issues around people (in this case my poor Dentist) being right up close to my face. I know teeth and eyes are totally different but it's more of a symbolic thing. I've now read loads of good chats on here and have done lots of my own research and I'm wondering if I should talk to my Doctor and see what he thinks. There's 2 parts to this though, the dentistry side (short term) and then the trauma side (long term), which I didn't even know was there until yesterday. I think EMDR is OK for "after the event" treatment for specific traumas but I might look into phobia treatments to help me deal with these wretched symbolic reactions. I think this only affects things to do with my face though. Procedures on any other area hopefully won't trigger the same fears.
 
Enarete

Enarete

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 18, 2017
Messages
3,255
Sounds like you‘re looking around and trying to find ways to deal with it. It‘s good to read that you are having the long term treatment in mind as well. Trauma and fears are little beasts that can often spread into different areas of life. You mentioned eyes and teeth being two different things, but as you say, it‘s both in your face so I see how the struggles would be similar. Sounds like talking to your doctor is a good thing and if you‘re interested in counseling / therapy to take a look at those issues, that may be a long term solution as well. We have an article about it here. Out of curiosity - may I ask you how many sessions of EMDR you had and how did you like your therapist?
For the strictly dental part of the things, if you need the treatment sooner than your „natural“ ability to cope will be restored, the short term solution may be some kind of sedation. You do not have to wait to have all your issues solved before you can get the treatment.
 
M

Mikeday

Junior member
Joined
Oct 22, 2021
Messages
5
Location
West Sussex
Hi there, great advice, thank you so much. I'll definitely explore that link to therapy treatments as I'm very much open to suggestion and will try anything. As for EMDR, my therapist was good but ever so slightly patronising, which took the edge of the sessions a bit. Unfortunately it was 6 months after the surgery that my sessions could start (lockdown) so that wasn't ideal. Am I sold on EMDR? I'm not really sure. I think it helped with the night terrors (which were so vivid that they literally created memories in my head) but as there was a 6 month wait these might have been fading away anyway. Would I recommend EMDR? Yes, because everything is worth a try when you're genuinely traumatised. Hope this helps.
 
Enarete

Enarete

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 18, 2017
Messages
3,255
A slightly patronising therapist doesn’t sound great. For most mental health issues, the therapist as a person and how you like them really is the most important thing... it’s like in dentistry :)
 
letsconnect

letsconnect

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 1, 2005
Messages
5,759
Hi there ?, is your dentist aware of what happened with the eye surgery and how this has affected you?
 
M

Mikeday

Junior member
Joined
Oct 22, 2021
Messages
5
Location
West Sussex
Haha very true. I think the therapist was very well trained in EMDR but had no real idea of what trauma feels like. Just my opinion.
 
M

Mikeday

Junior member
Joined
Oct 22, 2021
Messages
5
Location
West Sussex
I did explain it to her yes, but the thing with trauma is that you have to have experienced it first hand to actually truly get it, and I can tell she hasn't. I think she just thinks I'm being a big baby. For me, when the anxiety kicks in I literally have no say in what happens, it's actually quite scary being so out of control. Any other part of my body is fine but as soon as a medical person comes right up to my face with instruments and starts doing things that I don't understand and can't control the panic kicks in. It's a real curse.
 
letsconnect

letsconnect

Administrator
Staff member
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Messages
5,759
I suppose not feeling understood doesn't make things any easier ?.

as soon as a medical person comes right up to my face with instruments and starts doing things that I don't understand and can't control the panic kicks in

Would you feel better if you did have a good understanding of what they were doing and how, and if you were in control of the situation? Many dentists are happy to explain beforehand how a procedure is done, and to give a running commentary. We've got a page on lack of control here which might be useful:


Also, as Enarete has suggested, if you're open to the idea of sedation, this could be helpful for staying relaxed and rebuilding your confidence in your ability to cope with these situations.
 
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