Fear of dental injections, not of needles or pain in general

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merlin

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Oct 6, 2010
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I’m trying to understand why I’m afraid of dental injections in particular. I’m really good with other injections, even painful ones. I once had to get four injections in my back of my neck, and was told “the last one is really quite painful so just breathe and it’ll be ok”. That did hurt, but I’d have little anticipatory fear doing it again.

I’ve also elected to do more shallow fillings without anaesthetic before - yes it probably does hurt a little more than some injections I’ve received, and it certainly hurts for longer but there’s something “okay” about that sort of pain. Maybe because it’s predictable.

Are others here the same way? I’m not sure if something in my manifestation of dental needle phobia can be used to get over it.
 
Enarete

Enarete

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Hi merlin,

this is interesting. So you're absolutely fine with all other needles, but have problems with dental ones. Have you ever had a dental injection before?
 
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merlin

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Oct 6, 2010
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Yes I’m pretty ok with other injections. I don’t like looking at the needle going in but I’ve been asked to hold a needle that’s already in me and that was ok (not my favourite experience but still ok).

I have had a few dental injections. The first, when I was about 10 is the one that I think has caused my fear. It was in the side of my cheek, done very quickly and without numbing gel (in the mid-90s). It’s probably the most pain I’ve felt, comparable to a wasp sting. My cheek swelled up and bruises badly enough that the next day teachers were concerned that I’d been punched in the face.

I have had a couple of dental injections since, which have varied between painful enough to make me wince and almost imperceptible. The fear of them still lingers, and to be honest makes me try to avoid treatment.
 
Enarete

Enarete

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The first, when I was about 10 is the one that I think has caused my fear. It was in the side of my cheek, done very quickly and without numbing gel (in the mid-90s). It’s probably the most pain I’ve felt, comparable to a wasp sting. My cheek swelled up and bruises badly enough that the next day teachers were concerned that I’d been punched in the face.

This sounds nightmarish, no surprise that you can't get yourself anywhere near a needle at the dentist.

Fears actually work very predictably. You had a very scary and painful experience, which probably set the base. But the real problem is, that you had a series of very negative and unpredictable experiences afterwards as well. You can imagine phobias getting worse and worse with each negative experience, up to a point where your mind says "nope, not gonna do that ever again".

The good news is that fear of dental needles can be overcome very easily, particularly if you have no problems with other needles. The approach to that is called exposure and you can do it in various ways. You can read more about it here and you can find a protocol for needle phobia there as well. Another resource that may be useful for you is this article. It's about fear of painful injections and may give you an idea about what can help.
 
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merlin

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Oct 6, 2010
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Thanks. The thing is, the cheek is quite soft and stretchy so should be one of the less painful areas. Meaning there are worse injections (eg palatal) out there than what I received, surely.
 
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metallictaste

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Jul 12, 2021
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Yes I’m pretty ok with other injections. I don’t like looking at the needle going in but I’ve been asked to hold a needle that’s already in me and that was ok (not my favourite experience but still ok).

I have had a few dental injections. The first, when I was about 10 is the one that I think has caused my fear. It was in the side of my cheek, done very quickly and without numbing gel (in the mid-90s). It’s probably the most pain I’ve felt, comparable to a wasp sting. My cheek swelled up and bruises badly enough that the next day teachers were concerned that I’d been punched in the face.

I have had a couple of dental injections since, which have varied between painful enough to make me wince and almost imperceptible. The fear of them still lingers, and to be honest makes me try to avoid treatment.

Between reading your past experience and my personal experience being needle-phobic, I can easily see how someone could be afraid of dental and not afraid of other locations. The mouth is probably the weirdest and (hopefully?) biggest opening one has on their persons. Nothing like the outsides you see every day lol.

Sending good vibes, and like others said, being mostly okay with other locations is a big leg up on conquering the dental fear angle. 🤗🤗🤗 Wishing you all the best.
 
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