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Faced my fear head on - after 12 years



Junior member
Oct 5, 2006
I've always been frightened of the dentist. No reason. Never experienced pain or ever had a bad experience, it was a fear which was just preprogrammed into every cell in my body - there was no way I'd ever go.

As a child, I had to be put under GA to have work done. I used to unplug our family telephone every day, just in case the dentist called (stupid eh!?) I couldn't even walk past a dental surgery, without feeling sick.

Time passed. I left home and went to uni. Then one day in my second year of my degree, my filling fell out. I remember the moment clearly - I remember thinking, I should really go to the dentist right now and get it refilled, so it will be a simple job... But I didn't. I left it and left it. Time passed, and I left uni, got a job and moved yet further away. Never once registering with a dentist. All the time the whole in my tooth getting bigger... But as it didn't hurt, then I didn't ever think much of it.

But recently - five years after the filling came out - I started to worry about my tooth. I hurt occassionally, and often it felt like my face was swollen. I started to wonder whether the rot had got so bad that I'd damaged my cheek bone, or was coming down with blood poisoning. My fear hd started to turn me hyperchondric...

My tooth started to rule my every waking thought. There was a little pain, but the worry was worse. Much worse. I knew I had to go and get help because I really believed my tooth was poisoning me.

After weeks of feeling spaced out, worried and sleepless and after five years of having a rotten tooth I decided I must go. I wasn't registered with a dentist, but here in Peterborough we're lucky enough to have an NHS Dental Access Walk In centre. Safe in the knowledge that they'd probably just look at my tooth then give my some antibiotics.. I went first thing.

I was terrified, but they were really nice and understood my nerves. They looked at my tooth, then took an X-Ray - which petrified me - but it wasn't at all like I'd remembered from my childhood days...

Then the news. "It'll have to come out," they said. "You ready to do it now?" I just burst into tears.

They told me how much dentistry had advanced and that many patients wonder what all the fuss was about after the event. I was still unconvinced. They then waited for my X-Ray to develop before being able to tell me whether the extraction would be simple, or not (eek.)

Worst luck. It wasn't going to be simple.

I sat and wimpered while they studied the xray. Then they called in the senior dentist. Apparently the roots on my bad tooth were long, hooked, bulbous and very close to my sinus. The senior dentist told me it would be a difficult extraction and that I might get a hole in my sinus which meant I wouldn't be able to cough or sneeze for a few weeks. She didn't say why, but I could read between the lines...

By this point, I was in a state. The nurse asked me what I wanted to do. Telling me it would only get worse and the best thing to do would to have it out. Then, throwing me a lifeline, she said I could possibly go and see my GP to see i they could give me some tranquilisers, then come back next week and have it out.

I agreed to do that. As I re-booked another appointment at the desk I wasn't sure whether I'd actually keep it. I wasn't on death's door, and that was good enough for me. But somewhere in my mind, my sense of reasoning took over and told me that I should at least try.. I next found myself in my doctor's surgury, explaining my fear to her. She gave me Diazepam... I had six days to go until D day...

It went quick. One day I'd be confident. The next I would be bottling out. The day before my appointment I was in emotional agony. I wanted all my fear to be over. I wanted all the years of worry to go. But I was too frightened. And alone, too. My partner was too busy to come with me. So I used this excuse, coupled with the fact I couldn't ride my motorbike to the surgury on tranquiliers as the final excuse to bottle out.

That was until my mum called. Just for a chat. But all my anguish came spilling out...

Despite being over 200 miles away, my mum and dad both came straight down. I was happy, but also very scared now. There was no way I could get out of it.

We had a nice evening, eating curry and pizza, but as good as it was to see them, my mind was distracted to the imminent 10am appointment the next day. I took the first of my tranquilisers, hoping in some way that they'd change my outlook. The pill made me sleepy and it took the knotted ball of fear from my stomach and relaxed me. My body no longer felt tense and fearful, but my brain was still fully aware.

I slept, but woke early. Took another pill while I counted down the hours til my appointment...

I fed the cats, read the paper, drank tea and watched the clock. Only two hours now. On my doctor's advise I took the last of my tranquiliers - hoping that it would knock me out... No such luck. But they did start to take the edge of.

Before I knew it, it was time. Me and my mum went into town and to the Access Centre. I was shaking. We sat in the waiting room and waited. My emotions were circling between "I can't do this, I'm going to make a bolt for the door." And "No, this is fine, I just want it to be over... it's almost over... after years of worry..."

It was that moment, I resigned myself to the fact that I was now only minutes away from wiping out so much worry and fear.

The door opened, and my name was called.

The nurse and the dentist knew my fear. They told me I didn't have to do anything I didn't want to, and asked me if I was sure... It crossed my mind to say no and run away, but deep down I knew it had to be done.

They numbed my gum with some gel - then came the injection. I couldn't comprehend what it would be like for someone to inject me in a place that seems so uninjectable! But they did. It was over in seconds, and all I felt was a tiny scratch - no pain. The feeling of jubliation as I'd conqured step one of my fear was incredible. We all sat and chatted (me rambling nervously) as my gum and lip got numb. But it wasn't the crazy type of numb I expected, it was pleasent and very localised - it didn't feel like my whole face was gone!

She then injected again - and this time I felt nothing.

Then it was time. The dental nurse held my hand and told me that if I felt any pain I should squeeze it and they'd stop straight away. She told me what they would do first - pushing. Pushing all around the tooth to free it.

There was quite a bit of pressure - but no pain. I can't say it enjoyed it, but the nurse kept me breathing correctly and told me how to relax my shoulders, telling me it would make the dentists job easier.

After about 30secs of pushing, came the wiggling. My fear had me making desperate seal-like noises, but still no pain. And the nurse and my mum were both there, telling me it was okay. I might've sounded stupid, but I didn't feel it...

Then the nurse said, "come on, it's nearly out, I can see how loose it is now." And within seconds it was out. I burst into relieved tears. Years and years of anxiety over in less than 10 minutes. I was amazed... and that was the difficult extraction they had all been so concerned about.

One day later and I'm on top of the world. I can't describe to you how different I feel. All those little pains in my jaw, teeth and ears that I'd lived with for years are gone. I feel like a different person.

So my advice to all you guys, who are lurking on this site like I did (building up the courage to go,) is to imagine your life without fear - it's the best reward ever. Worry is the worse thing ever and will damage you more than any dentist ever will.

Modern dentisty is so advanced and as long as you remember that you are always in control of your own mouth - then nothing bad will ever happen to you.

I'm free now - and believe me, you can be too.

It's never as bad as your mind thinks it will be. Honestly.
Hi Emma, Thanks for sharing that story with us, hopefully it will be an ispiration to others who are trying to deal with this fear. Congrats on seeing the appointment through! :jump:
Wow, congrats! Very impressive.
Congratulations  :jump:  :party:  :jump:
That's a wonderfully reassuring story for anyone currently in pain wondering what using an NHS Dental Access Centre would be like.
Thanks for sharing in such detail.
Thanks for sharing your story, you should be really proud of yourself, you've done sooooooooooo well. big big hugs :hug2:.

Take care
Hi Emma htanks for sharing your story with us, Keep in touch.