Going to the dentist for the first time in 15 years, very scared

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keithito

Junior member
Joined
Jan 25, 2016
Messages
3
Hey everyone, I'm about to go into the dentist tomorrow afternoon for my first visit since I was 12 (I'm 27 now). Growing up my family was very poor and my parents weren't the most well informed about the importance of this kind of stuff (they were very young and had pretty bad dental hygiene themselves) so once I got to a certain age they just stopped taking me. Prior to this I'd only ever had pretty bad experiences at the Dentist, a lot of very painful fillings and extractions done at some pretty questionable dentist offices, so I really didn't ever think too much about it after that. I brushed my teeth regularly and tried to floss (admittedly I'm not the best at it) and never had any issues. My teeth have always looked a little yellow and crooked but up until a year ago there was never any pain.

About a year ago I was eating lunch and a piece of one of my molars (second from the back) fell off. All of a sudden all of the anxiety and fear I had bottled up about this stuff came rushing back and I did whatever I could to ignore it. There was never any pain, and I just kind of started to chew on the other side, having convinced myself I could live without that tooth. I also didn't have much dental coverage at all so I was reluctant to look into it for financial reasons.

Now about a month ago, same kind of story, but on the other side of my mouth. The second from the back but on the opposite side this time, cracked nearly in half and fell out. This time though the pain started almost instantly. It comes and goes, and I can manage it with advil, but last week my girlfriend finally convinced me that I needed to see a dentist about these two broken teeth.

I live in Toronto and I have a bit of coverage through work (they'll pay 90% of most non-major procedures, up to a max of $2000 a year) and I have a credit card that I haven't touched yet to help out in this exact kind of situation, but I'm still nervous about the cost. I don't know what I'll need done which I guess is the point of tomorrow's appointment, but coming from a family with no money I get really worked up about these things.

And of course I'm also feeling a huge amount of anxiety about just going to the dentist at all. I'm afraid of what they're going to say when I tell them how long it's been, and I'm afraid of how much it's going to hurt, how much it's going to hurt when I start to get anything done, how I'm going to react to hearing the cost and hearing about what they're going to need to do, it's just all very daunting. I'm prone to panic attacks, and while they're not generally brought on by stressful events, I'm anxious about what will happen if I panic tomorrow.

My teeth have been a huge point of stress for me for a while now and the pain I'm in is pretty unbearable, but I know that I need to take advantage of what dental coverage I do have while I have it (I don't plan to be in this job for a whole lot longer) and I know it's just going to get worse if I put it off, just can't shake all of this nervousness and dread I'm feeling about tomorrow and the weeks that will follow.
 
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littlething

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Messages
129
Hi and welcome!

Good for you for taking that first step! :) The first visit will be the hardest, but with a kind, patient dentist, it does get easier. A good dentist won't judge and won't care how long it has been since your last dental visit - they will just want to help you get back into dental health. I just started tackling my dental issues after a 20+ year absence (I'm 30 now but hadn't been since I was 6 or 7 because my parents never took me), and when my dentist asked how long it had been, I just said "a really long time" and left it at that (I still don't think he knows exactly how long it had been). Most dentists these days are also very concerned about their patients' comfort, so dental treatment shouldn't be painful at all (the worst of it in my experience is the prick from the needle, and even that is a tiny little pinch).

A good dentist will be willing to go at your pace and to take it one step at a time. The first step is to find out what needs to be done, come up with a treatment plan, and go from there. My dentist understood that it could be overwhelming, but emphasized that we would do everything one step at a time and that I should tackle everything at my pace to suit my comfort level. I was terrified of finding out what all needed doing, but once I knew and I had a plan of action, it became easier and more manageable for me. And a lot of time, we make things to be a lot worse off in our heads than they actually are.

The cost does suck. You should discuss your concerns with your dentist in coming up with a treatment plan that works for you, that takes this into account. For non-urgent work, you can spread it out over time and tackle it as you can afford it. Some offices will let you set up a payment plan.

Good luck and let us know how it goes! :)
 
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Nicolee891

Junior member
Joined
Jan 7, 2016
Messages
8
I understand what you're going through. Except I have 9 bad teeth (that I know of). Only my teeth are all rotten and too far gone to save except for maybe 1 of the 9. I am 23 and haven't been to the dentist since I think my 9th or 10th birthday. I'm so scared of them telling me what is wrong and what has to be done, the pain of getting stuff done and the after pain as well. Good luck and update when you can!
 
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mscam

Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2016
Messages
28
Your story sounds so similar to my own. I have my first appointment schedule for Monday. I'm not sure if I am more terrified of being told there is no hope must do full extractions (and jaw surgery for open bite, when I am being especially negative) or facing down years of restoration work. I am trying to stay positive by reminding myself that doing nothing is not really an option anymore and that anything I do will be an improvement for both my health and my appearance. I am fortunate enough to work in a field where I can take the summer off and hide away-- but I am terrified of being told my teeth won't hold up 4 more months. I'd love to stay in touch as you start your journey.
 
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keithito

Junior member
Joined
Jan 25, 2016
Messages
3
Hey everyone, thanks for the encouragement.

My appointment was yesterday and while the work I need done isn't pretty (2 root canals, about 10 cavities) it's much better than I thought.

The hygienist I had was extremely patient and very nice, she did as much as she could to make me comfortable. I had some bitewing x-rays (much less uncomfortable than the kind they did when I was a kid) and she took photos of each of my individual teeth. During this she realized that I didn't have my wisdom teeth, and she told me that either they were removed when I was a kid (don't remember this) or I was just born without them, which is very lucky.

After that the dentist came in, and while he was kind of stern and intimidating, he told me that I'd need 2 root canals and crowns put on, and that I had a bunch of cavities that needed filling, and didn't ever really make a big deal out of how long I'd waited to come in. I have to say though, I was perfectly comfortable talking to the hygienist, but as soon as the Dentist walked in I froze up and could barely speak, something to work on I guess.

The hygienist did a really thorough cleaning (I needed freezing to deal with it, just because of how much build-up there was on my teeth) of half of my mouth, I have a cleaning for the other half next tuesday, and following that I'll start work on my root canals.

It's a relief from one point of view, because I'm not terrified of going in there anymore, but now I'm dealing with the stress of the cost. In Toronto the procedures for 2 root canals and 2 crowns will run me nearly $6000, with only about $1500 of that being covered by my insurance. I'm not sure how I will be able to afford these, but I know that I need them.

I am glad that I did it though, a day later and my teeth (well, half of them) already look and feel better. I'm still working through the anxiety that's keeping me from talking to the dentist about costs and things like that, and I'm not looking forward to the root canal procedures, but I'm past the days of calling dentists to make an appointment, panicking, and hanging up, so that's something!
 
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Patti

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 28, 2006
Messages
749
A few years ago, I did the same thing as you are are doing. I never saw a dentist at the age of almost 50 (at the time), all out of fear. I had numerous cavities that needed filling, a root canal needed that I had extracted instead, and 2 wisdom teeth out (not much left of those). I expected much worse, actually. I was able to avoid the dentist all those years because somehow I got good tooth genes, I guess? My teeth never looked bad.

Anyway, I went to the dentist once a week for over 3 months and got everything done. WHAT A RELIEF! Going there so much certainly knocked most of the dental fear out of me. I've been going every 6 months (faithfully) since then for cleanings and checkups.

It takes a lot of guts to face years of neglect and the worry of what is actually wrong. Good for you!
 
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