• Dental Phobia Support

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Finally made an appointment



Junior member
Sep 28, 2021
Port Orchard
No one has seen inside my mouth for almost twenty years. My teeth have been a dirty secret that I've kept from literally everyone. Please excuse my very long rambling! It has been such a huge relief to find this website and I need to get this off my chest finally.

My last dentist appointment was when I was 15 (I turn 33 in a couple months). There were cavities found at the time but we were in a new city and my mom had mentioned that I had a heart murmur when I was a baby. The dentist wouldn't touch me until my mom could prove the heart murmur was gone. It had resolved when I was still an infant, so I don't know why she brought it up, but we didn't have paperwork to back up anything she'd said. The cavities were never addressed, and nothing ever happened. No sensitivity, no pain, etc. Family life got complicated (dad got an MS diagnosis) and we didn't visit a dentist again.

When my wisdom teeth came in at 18, (impacted, of course), I said everything was fine. Again, no pain, no issues. Didn't want to be a bother to my family who was already going through a lot. The irony is that my parents had spent a ton on my teeth when I was much younger--I got braces at 8, so my teeth are super straight. Go figure. Within a year, one of the top wisdom teeth had broken. I had moved out of my parents house and didn't have insurance (honestly, I'm not sure we had dental insurance when I was an older teen, either. Maybe that's why we never went?) so I ignored it.

Over the next few years, more teeth would break, but they were mostly in the back of my mouth where no one could see. There was a lot of pain when I lost the majority of them, about ten years ago. I did just about anything to make it go away--ibuprofen, gargling mouth wash, gargling vodka (that one worked when nothing else would), cloves, etc.--anything but actually go see a dentist. I didn't want to be a burden on my family (my parents or my wife) so I never told anyone. By the time I had insurance (medicaid in the United States), our local community dentist only saw children. Adults could be seen on an emergency basis, but by this time I had too many issues and no real emergency. And I haven't had real tooth pain in years.

I was doing an excellent job of ignoring everything until we hit 2020. Mental health issues started getting worse, including an enormous amount of anxiety and panic about my teeth and mouth health and overall impact on my general health. I resolved some very old childhood issues which made me realize that I didn't take care of myself--at all, to the point of extreme neglect. I didn't believe I was worth taking care of. I'm still working on those issues, but tackling my dental fears is a huge step in that direction.

Unfortunately, I decided to tackle this huge issue in the middle of a global pandemic. I told myself that I would wait until I could get vaccinated--both my kids are high risk so we've been extra cautious--and that a few more months wouldn't make a huge difference. It's been 18 years, after all! Well, that came and went in May. I started looking for a clinic to take my insurance and realized that nothing had changed in more than a decade. The same place I was told to go to, only saw kids. I started emailing clinics begging for help, had they heard of anyone at all who would take state insurance. I got two responses back. I finally had options, but once I had those options? I was seized with panic.

There wasn't an obstacle in my way anymore, but I realized this meant someone had to actually LOOK in my MOUTH. Nope, nope, nope, absolutely not. A couple months passed, and I lost another molar. Anxiety about my teeth started keeping me up at night again. I would have nightmares where all my teeth crumbled in my mouth. When I dared to look in the mirror, I could see small cavities between teeth in the front. I knew these would get worse, and eventually visible teeth would break, too. I kept wishing that I could go back to when all of this first started and just deal with the issues, do whatever I needed to do to get everything fixed.

I don't want to keep looking back and wishing I had fixed things before they were even worse again. I am absolutely mortified for anyone to see my mouth. I'm afraid of the embarrassment and judgment, afraid the results will be worse than I think they are, afraid of having to go under anesthesia, and afraid I'm just going to sob the whole time I'm at any appointment. I had dental and orthodontics work done as a kid and I never had a particularly bad or painful experience, just the general shaming about flossing, but I know how bad my mouth is and I know that it's my fault that it got to this condition.

Though I am still filled with panic, I took the first step yesterday and emailed the clinic with a couple of questions about insurance and the first appointment. To my horror, they wrote back within fifteen minutes with all the right answers. I read success stories on this website, read more forum posts, sobbed a lot, and decided that it was finally time to tackle this and be done with this shame and panic. It's so unbelievably exhausting.

After years of putting it off, I have an appointment for November 3. I couldn't make the call myself but I asked my wife to. She acted like it was no big deal, which I appreciate, but I thought I was going to start sobbing when she handed me the appointment info. I've never made it this far toward getting my mouth seen before. Now I just have to figure out how to manage the time between now and then and actually show up. I haven't decided if it will be more or less mortifying to have someone with me.

Any advice is helpful, and also, a huge huge huge thank you to everyone who has shared their stories and fears, and especially to the dentists who affirm that they just want to help, not judge. I cannot begin to describe how immensely it has helped me already. I know I have a lot of work ahead of me but it helps knowing that I am not alone in this and so many people have gone through similar circumstances (though their barriers to care may be different).

Thank you for letting me share my story for the first time. I'm going to post this now before I delete it :)
Well done on getting an appointment set up! I can honestly say, for me, that was almost the hardest part. I won’t bore you with all of the details, but I waited 10+ years to go to a dentist. I had an infected molar & the pain was so extreme that I forced myself to make an appointment. I was so scared & ashamed. I, too, had the nightmares of my teeth crumbling or falling out. It was awful. Very long story short(ish), making that appointment was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. Honestly, years of shame and guilt were gone within minutes of my first appointment. Fast forward 6 months & several visits (a couple of root canals/crowns, some fillings replaced & getting my teeth cleaned) and I have a clean bill of dental health. I went in for a routine cleaning yesterday & I barely panicked at all! My dentist and hygienist and the front office staff are wonderful! So kind, caring & empathetic. All they ever wanted to do was get me out of pain & take care of fixing my dental issues. This site was absolutely instrumental in helping me make that initial appointment & also in working through my crippling dental fear. Honestly, yesterday I felt like a “normal” person going in for a regular check up. Guess what? It was wonderful! I promise you that you will feel SUCH relief after that first visit. Best wishes to you & please keep us posted on how it goes.
It may seem like a small thing, but this stranger on the internet is proud of you.

I didn't believe I was worth taking care of.

This resonates quite a bit with me. The more I work on myself and try to untie the tangled web that is my life here so far, the more I realize how much of the damage I've done to myself is because of this mindset.

I hope you keep on this path and keep growing.
Congrats on taking your first step i am in the same boat as you i made my first Appointment today to go see a dentist so I know just how you feel I can totally relate to you’re story as I’ve had a big fear of the dentist for a long time and past experiences of going to the dentist at a young age kept me from going for a long time up until now everything's gonna be alright keep us posted

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