• Dental Phobia Support

    Welcome! This is an online support group for anyone who is has a severe fear of the dentist or dental treatment. Please note that this is NOT a general dental problems or health anxiety forum! You can find a list of them here.

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Hello everyone! Support, reassurance needed...



Junior member
Nov 9, 2016
Hello everyone. I have a long standing phobia which i am going to have to face up to as the time has come where i can no longer ignore the fact that i need to visit the dentist... i had the most appalling (but not uncommon, it seems) experience as a child in the 1970's which involved a botched extraction and extremely bad reaction to gas and air at the hands of a dreadful dentist. I find it hard to even type that (!) and it took years for me to trust another dentist who happened to be a neighbour on the road where my family lived. He was brilliant. Did loads of work, filled cavities and i was happy and comfortable with him. Then i went to University, lived abroad and came back in the late 1990's, no longer NHS registered, old dentist had retired and i saw someone else for a check up thinking i'd be ok, but noooo - seemingly out of nowhere a full blown panic attack ensued, with much embarrassing gagging during x-ray and floods of tears. I was distraught. Haven't been back since, but tried to be diligent with brushing, flossing and mouthwash over the years. Fast forward and teeth now beginning to worry me due to tartar build up, staining and big old fillings that probably need replacing, BUT the really pressing thing is that yesterday a piece of what i think was a big bit of calculus spontaneously fell off the back of my lower front tooth and i freaked out big time. Lower front teeth now feel really odd. I have quite a bit of tartar build-up there so i am now worried something else is going on. I have an appointment in two weeks (soonest i could get) with my husbands supposedly-very-good dentist, but i am so nervous already, it's ridiculous. Now i'm in a panic that all my bottom teeth are going to fall out due to my own stupid phobia-induced neglect, and while hubby is happy to come and hold my hand he thinks i am being a wimp. It's so hard to try to explain why an incident in childhood should have such a profound and debilitating effect, so much so that it stops you doing something that really is for your own good... i wish i'd faced this earlier, so just wanted to let off some steam... really hope i'm not now firmly on the way to losing my teeth...:shame:
I know exactly how you feel. I'm new here, by the way, so I'm not an expert, but I guess I can offer support as a fellow struggler.

I only just made my first appointment yesterday after 7 years, and in that time my teeth have gotten really bad - It's a runaway effect - You have a fear, so you don't visit, your teeth get worse, and the fear of the news makes you not visit even more.

Take it from me, trust me, you've done the right thing making an appointment to see where you're at. It seems modern dentistry has come a long way from years ago. I don't know you, but I feel you, and I'm proud of you for taking a big step! Having your husband there will help you towards a comfort zone, and just remember, you can tell the dentist to stop as soon as you feel the slightest bit uncomfortable, be it physically or emotionally.

Well done!
Hey, welcome to the forum!

It's a shame your husband doesn't quite understand. The truth is that traumatic events in childhood very commonly stay with us well into adulthood. Entire fields of psychology study this, and countless people have careers helping people deal with trauma. It's certainly nothing to do with being a "wimp"!

But even if your husband doesn't quite get it, most people here do. :)

It's hard, but try not to fear the worst. There's no way of knowing what will need done until after an examination. The main thing is that you're taking the steps to address this now, and after a childhood trauma and a bad experience last time you went, that is super brave! Please feel proud of yourself, because you absolutely should. And while it might not be easy, I promise it'll be worth it when you feel the relief of knowing you're on your way to a healthy mouth.

Hang in there! :hug4:
Thank you both - your replies mean a lot to me.

I do tend to catastrophise, so i'm concentrating on trying not to do that and to think that at least i am on the way to dealing with getting treatment now, which is, as you say, a brave step.
Sevena you are so right about the psychological effects of childhood trauma...
Hubby is a good sort, but he queried whether i was sure that the childhood incident had even involved 'gas', as he thought that sounded somewhat archaic and barbaric for the time... It's so vivid in my mind though, even now, so I went looking around for evidence to convince him and found this forum and noticed lots of people had experienced similar things as children which had led to their phobia.
Unbelievable what passed for dental care in the 70's (and earlier).
Oh well, onwards and upwards.
I will post again once i've been to the appointment.

Thanks again. Glad i found this site.
Well, i went to my first dentists appointment in more years than i have the courage to say today and i didn't exactly cover myself in glory, but it wasn't as bad as it could have been, considering my extreme levels of phobic anxiety!

I did manage to let him do an initial look and probe around, but i completely flunked the bite wings x-ray.
Just couldn't handle it, as i have a hair trigger gag reflex. Even after 2 attempts and a lot of good distraction technique and patience on dentists part it was obvious i wasn't going to be able to manage to bite down for long enough without gagging and struggling to pull the damned thing out, and i started to get very upset....so i have to go for a 2D scan tomorrow at a place in central London as the next best thing to check for any underlying decay etc. Ugh.

Dentist was extremely nice, kind and patient though, and i feel i can work with him going forward. I am just embarrassed about not being able to do the x-ray, although he did say that a lot of his nervous patients can't manage it at first and said that i did well to get as far as allowing him to do a fairly thorough initial exam on the first visit.

Luckily he thinks the extensive work i had done as a teenager is of an extremely high standard and has at least stabilised my teeth and he said he would like to do a thorough clean over two appointments with a local so that i am a bit more comfortable. I'm happy with this, and - fingers crossed - apart from a bit or repair to one filling which is not in as bad a state as i'd thought, i might have got away with my years of neglect. I hope.

I find it very frustrating and upsetting that i managed to overcome my fears once before and had a lot of work done (with a brilliant dentist, thank goodness) but one incident a bit later in life with a rather brusque and unsympathetic dentist set me right back, to the point where i have been paralysed with fear for too long and can't tolerate an x-ray because of a fear of choking and asphyxiation that goes right back to childhood...i also feel like a bit of a twit, as it is now going to cost me more money before i even get to the treatment part...:redface: