Help - extreme physical resonse to fear!

C

Commander_Cody

Junior member
Joined
Feb 27, 2007
Messages
3
Hello all - I am new here, prompted to finally do this after what should have been a fairly routine appointment yesterday left me absolutely wiped out.

Some background:
As a child/teenager (only child, strict parents - did as they told me to) I had a HORRIBLE dentist in NYC. Had many, many cavities drilled with no novocaine (I didn't know there was such a thing). Had to endure the "seat of shame" as he told my parents how terrible it was that I had such bad teeth etc... I now think this was all exagerated as my teeth are really not that bad. Wonder if I really even had so many cavities. I remember crying at each appointment, and having to bribe myself to make myself walk into that door. I also remember wanting desperately to hurt him back (I think I still might like to do that).
Got worse my first experience with tooth pulling (4 in one day, all 4 sides) and novocaine - he had trouble with the injections and ended up breaking off a needle that was imbedded in the bone in the roof of my mouth.
Finally, I left home for college and was "free" from dentists for a long time.

Recently, I decided I HAD to go back again. I know I need to go. It took me months to make the appointment, and I luckily found a dentist who is nice and seems very competent.

HOWEVER, I had an appointment yesterday to replace some of those old fillings. No pain really, but as soon as the drilling starts, the physical response starts and I am embarassed but I can't stop it. It starts with my heart beating so fast I think I am going to pass out and I start breathing really hard. Then I start to shake in my whole body. I try to hold on to myself to stop it so the dentist can work. Then I start to cry, just tears running down my face. I am silently begging her to stop, to leave me alone, not because it hurts, it doesn't. After the appointment, I still was shaking and had to sit down outside for a while to regroup. They seem to think I am doing "better" than my first appointment, but I don't think so.
In a way this dentist is good, she keeps going and doesn't buy into my fears. She is kind and gentle, but she won't let me off the hook. That's a good thing, but I find myself now with the feelings again that I can't go back because I can't take the stress.
So, my question is how do I learn to control this? I consider myself a tough person - I am fit and have a hard, physical job (training horses) that requires me to be strong and aggressive. Yet this I can't control.
 
letsconnect

letsconnect

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 1, 2005
Messages
5,554
Hi there :welcome:,

reading your background brought back some not-so-fond memories - I can relate!

You've shown great courage by deciding to do something about your fears and making that appointment. Fair play to you :thumbsup:!

One of the things many people with dental fears find helpful is being in control over proceedings and working together, as partners, with their dentists. So I was wondering if your dentist's strategy of "not letting you off the hook" might have something to do with your physical response yesterday? A lot of people might feel "caged" in that situation. And perhaps that approach might be too reminiscent of previous experiences of being forced into staying in a scary situation.

There are various techniques which might help you stay calm all by yourself, such as deep breathing and relaxation exercises, using a blanket to cover yourself, bringing an iPod and listening to music, a technique known as "anchoring", etc., but in a way, these don't help by themselves if the central issue is one of control. If this is the case for you, your dentist may be able to figure out a way, together with you, of doing things in such a way that you feel comfortable. Do you have any ideas about what might make you feel more relaxed and more secure?

Some people also find it really helpful to play around with dental instruments beforehand - this may be due to both a desensitization effect and a feeling of being more involved and knowing what's going on.

Sorry I can't give any hard-and-fast advice because everyone's fears are somewhat different and the best person to figure out what might help is the person with the phobia themselves, but it can be really useful to find out what has helped others cope (and there's plenty of material both on this forum and the website, especially the "common fears" section - https://www.dentalfearcentral.org/fears/).

Many thanks for joining our forum :)!!
 
brit

brit

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Mar 23, 2006
Messages
6,865
I agree with Lets that her not stopping is the wrong approach....she should let you take breaks to calm down...you had no control as a child and much pain was inflicted unnecessarily ....so what you badly need now whether in pain or not, is control in my view.
Did you actually give her the full details of what happened in the past...or just say you had some bad experiences...these things are always a question of degree....yours as related are among the worst I've read on here.

Maybe she's not the best one for you...only you can decide ....there are plenty of dentists out there who would be willing to take the time to help you appropriately,you just have to find them.
If you want to find some kindred spirits there was a poster called 'Jack' who successfully overcame his fear, who had a similar background to you including the desire to strike back. I have a certain dentist (only one -most of the rest have been good guys and gals) who I hope doesn't die without suffering a bit first too....and I'm a nice person really.
Congratulations on going along at all though :jump:
 
M

mkayy

Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2007
Messages
42
what an awful thing as a child you had to go through :XXLhug: .
i dont see how any dentist could do something that horriable .
do wonder you were so scard ,
nothing like that ever happened to me , i think my fear came from my parents not taking em to the dentist as a child and then as an adult i heard awful things about go to a dentist .
but i no your fear and i no its as real as us breathing .
i hope the next time goes better for you :XXLhug: .
 
N

Nell

Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2007
Messages
22
Hi

This story is also very similar to one I suffered as a child in the clutches of a British school dentist or do I mean sadist - no LA and fillings - nightmare!

When visiting the dentist to make my appointment I felt my pulse racing and my legs shaking and this is a worry for me when I actually get myself into the chair, will I lose control at the sound of the drill? The thought fills me with horror but I am determined to overcome my fear, I an now on a mission!

I hope it all goes well for you

Nell
 
C

Commander_Cody

Junior member
Joined
Feb 27, 2007
Messages
3
Thanks guys! It's so nice to know there are others out there who can relate. Even that makes me feel more brave.
You are probably right that a big issue is control. In my "normal" life, I am very much able to control things, and turning over control to someone who might on top of that cause pain is not a fun idea.
I did discuss this some with the dentist, but not the whole thing (it really is true, no exageration). I guess I would like her to listen more, but on the other hand she really is good and I feel confident in her technique. I don't know that I feel that anyone can really talk me out of this except me. And I am not really good about talking about things. Typing is OK, though :)
So, I am really determined to find a way to get MYSELF under control. I'll try the Ipod next time, but I know I'll still hear the drill and I'm not easily distracted. I definitely don't want any drugs as I am not even a social drinker (that's the control thing again, I guess...).
So Nell, I guess you and I are on the same mission. Here's to your success!

BTW who on earth would want to BE a dentist and watch people go through this trauma???
 
brit

brit

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Mar 23, 2006
Messages
6,865
You are probably right that a big issue is control. ......I did discuss this some with the dentist, but not the whole thing (it really is true, no exageration). I guess I would like her to listen more, but on the other hand she really is good and I feel confident in her technique.

This is all good apart from her not listening but....

I don't know that I feel that anyone can really talk me out of this except me. So, I am really determined to find a way to get MYSELF under control.

Commander - you are being too hard on yourself here...your reaction is understandable given the history.....she really shouldn't have any problem in giving you some control....it's not an unreasonable request on your part. Several dentists I have been to (without sharing my history), have told me to raise my hand if I want them to stop....it's a common technique especially for children.

Do you feel if you raised your hand she would stop? If the answer to this is no, because 'she's not letting you off the hook', then I think you need to agree a 'stop signal ' for sure. Just knowing you've got this will make it easier for you to relax. I've only used it twice...both times not pre-agreed, both times immediately acted upon...on those occasions when I've been specifically offered it, I've never needed to use it.

All the other things you and Letsconnect suggested about changing the environment from how it used to be, are important too...maybe choosing a female dentist rather than a male for instance was part of this, a blanket has worked for other people, music helps many too...I'm sure DVD screens in the ceiling must be great but not many places have those!

  BTW who on earth would want to BE a dentist and watch people go through this trauma???
I like to think that the vast majority of dentists I've seen, would stop and enquire, if a patient had tears flowing.....she should at least be checking she is not causing you any physical pain....as a patient with a bad history, you have to feel they mean well towards you...in short you have to like and trust them, not just that they are technically competent.

Most people have not been through dental trauma at the level you have, most of the patients dentists see are not suffering as you are, hence why there is no excuse not to give you that bit more time and understanding.

I can understand it being hard to talk to her about it.....but you said typing is okay....why not read up the stuff on here and make your list of: 'it would make it easier for me to cope if you did x,y & z because of specifics of bad past experiences.
Send the list in advance or hand it to her at your next appt.
Just agreeing a 'stop signal' could solve it for you ....remember you are the paying customer, buying a service.....you don't just have to take what is offered...but give them a chance to improve the product before going elsewhere.
 
Top