First appointment in 15 years. Success. (Looong read!)

N

Neurotic

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I lurked this forum during the days leading up to this inevitable appointment, so I wanted to give back the courage you all gave me.

To start with, I haven’t been to a dentist in 15 years. The last appointment I had, I was forced to go to this dentist by my parents whom I’ve had terrible experiences with before. He was so rough, I would be sore for days after just a simple cleaning. I would raise my hand for a break and he’d keep going anyway. Back then, my teeth were not in even a third of the condition that they are today. I actually had a dental assistant there ask me how long I’ve done meth.

I have NEVER done drugs. I was only 14 at the time.

I grew up in a poor household. My dental health was not a top priority and I really needed braces. Badly. I fought them though because I already dealt with bullying in school and being 12 years old, the thought of having glasses AND needing braces while already being the target of bullies was my worst nightmare.

So, between living in a house with well water — no fluoride — and not being encouraged to keep up on my dental health besides going to this abusive dental clinic, I didn’t have a lot of hope for my teeth. When I was 17, we moved out of state and ultimately, I stopped going to the dentist by then. I later started a birth control shot which is known for being terrible for your bones. Years later, I had a son and breastfed for two years which also did a number on my calcium reserves.

Long story short, it’s been a “perfect storm” and the condition of my teeth is barely salvageable. I resigned myself to the fact that the next time I go to a dentist, it will be to have all my teeth pulled and replaced with dentures. Despite this, I rarely dealt with tooth pain. I would have the occasional toothache that would subside after a day or two, but that’s it.

However last Monday, I started having a full throbbing ache in my upper left back molar. My wisdom teeth have been coming in for a while now but haven’t bothered me, thankfully. This tooth was already broken though and I believe the wisdom tooth coming in behind it aggravated things. I started taking OTC Motrin around the clock but by Wednesday morning, I was still in pain. (Like on a scale of 1-10, I was a steady 8 all day long.) The swelling started that night. I woke up Thursday morning to the entire left hand side of my cheek swelled up.

I’ve never had an abscessed tooth until then. When I felt my gum around the sore tooth, I knew that’s what I was dealing with. My husband pushed me to go to the dentist and quite frankly, I hoped I could wait it out. I scheduled an appointment at our local Afdent for the next day, even though they could have gotten me in that day. (I chose Afdent because my husband had to have an emergency extraction done and they were the only ones available the day of. They treated him so kindly, I just knew I’d end up there one day.)

By Friday, I had a fever and the swelling had not decreased even though the pain started to subside. After x-rays, they explained to me that the infection started to drain into my cheek, which was why the tooth pain subsided but the swelling was still there.

I was scared to death by this point. I was scared of judgment, of the pain, of the claustrophobia of having things in my mouth, of the sounds and sights. I was shaking like a leaf in the chair. The assistant and dentist were incredible in making me feel better. They explained the treatment plan to me: I needed 3 teeth pulled, but I only opted for 2 on the left hand side. The other is a broken molar on the other side which isn’t bothering me yet. They were absolutely okay with that, but urged I do come back and have the other removed before I go through this again.

So, the wisdom tooth and the broken infected tooth were to go. I expressed my anxiety which was obvious anyway. They offered me nitrous oxide and thanks to someone’s amazing tip here, allowed me to put headphones in and listen to music from my phone. Then, they left me for a bit to get comfortable.

Someone described nitrous oxide as not a solution, but will definitely make you feel like you can handle whatever is to come. And that’s exactly it. I was awake and aware, even kept reminding my body to relax and stop stiffening/tensing up. But when they came to start numbing things with the needles, I was ready. The nitrous oxide gave me this out of body feeling, so it almost lessened the pain for me as well. I believe the assistant turned it up at one point because I finally started to feel the tingle in my hands she warned me about, and I was able to close my eyes and be whisked away by the music and general feeling of drunkenness. I barely felt them numbing any of it, hardly any pinches from the needles at all.

Between the nitrous oxide and listening to music, I had felt like I’d been waiting for hours by the time they finally started. This sounds terrible but in truth, I was more ready to get it over with than anything.

The entire procedure took less time than waiting for it to begin. Despite the severe infection, I felt nothing apart from when it came time to pull the wisdom tooth — but that pain had come and gone before I had the time to process it. I heard the “clink!” of it hit the tray before I could even raise my hand to ask for a break!

The worst part of the entire ordeal was having to bite down on the gauze and feeling like I was going to gag. Honestly. That’s it. I’m home, have started my antibiotic regimen and keeping up on the prescribed pain medicine and I feel almost 100% already. The car ride home, I cried and was shaking which felt like a come down from all the adrenaline I had built up within myself, anticipating everything. But I wasn’t in no more pain than I had been when the numbing wore off, and certainly was not in the kind of pain I was before!

I highly, highly recommend your local Afdent office if they are anything like mine. I do plan on going back and following through with their plans for me. If you are afraid of the pain, I can assure you that it won’t be worse than what you are probably going through now. If you are afraid of being lectured or judged, don’t be! You are not the worse case they’ve ever dealt with and they understand dental phobia. They were extremely respectful and did everything they could to make me comfortable, even gave me a blanket at one point.

So after all this rambling, what I really want to say is thank you for reassuring me to do this and I hope I can do the same for whoever is reading this. I never thought I would finally go, and though I’m not excited to run back, I know now that I CAN do it again. Now that the anxiety of having everything done is gone, I’m being neurotic about developing a dry socket. 😂 I suppose it’s always something.
 
krlovesherkids777

krlovesherkids777

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Neurotic.

:welldone: Wow!! Thank you for sharing your story! You have certainly been through alot and are such a resiliant person! I'm so glad you got in , it sounds like a really compassionate good clinic and you did amazingly going through all this!! Hope your pain is much better and that your healing will go smooth and quick!!
 
Sol

Sol

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Glad they were able to fit you in and get you out of pain. It's good to hear you are already thinking positively about your next appointment and moving forward. If you have a moment please share your recommendation (you can do it yourself or anonymously). The steps are in the link below.

 
B

BlueStarGalaxies

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Thank you for sharing! 🙂 I have been visiting these forums for a while to seek advice and success stories to help lessen my anxiety and make me feel not so completely alone. My biggest fear (though I have many) is the embarrassment and my anxiety makes everything 10x worse. 😓 Reading stories like yours truly does help. ❤
 
N

Neurotic

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Neurotic.

:welldone: Wow!! Thank you for sharing your story! You have certainly been through alot and are such a resiliant person! I'm so glad you got in , it sounds like a really compassionate good clinic and you did amazingly going through all this!! Hope your pain is much better and that your healing will go smooth and quick!!
Thank you! I’m still feeling rather good but trying to take it easy. I give all of the credit to the fact that I found an amazingly compassionate clinic. It made all of the difference.
 
N

Neurotic

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Joined
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Thank you for sharing! 🙂 I have been visiting these forums for a while to seek advice and success stories to help lessen my anxiety and make me feel not so completely alone. My biggest fear (though I have many) is the embarrassment and my anxiety makes everything 10x worse. 😓 Reading stories like yours truly does help. ❤
I can absolutely relate to this. I wouldn’t have gone at all had the infection not happened! By that point, I was truly just afraid and exhausted from being in pain. But I would have NEVER made an appointment otherwise to just go.

If you’re in the states, I recommend seeing if there is an Afdent near you. They literally pride themselves in “patient friendly dentistry.”

I hope you can find somewhere you’re comfortable with. It really does make all of the difference in the world.
 
Dg6300

Dg6300

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Well done!

Here is footage of dental anxiety, after you showed who is boss around here now:

:hidesbehindsofa:

And...

:frantic:

Like our friend the lion, here is a token of our appreciation for your courage: 🏅
 
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