Help needed please, severe dental phobia

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C

Cronic Dental Phobia

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I am a new member trying to get some support for my HORRIBLE fear and anxiety. I have not been to the dentist in 20 years and as a result am having issues. I have made an appointment with a oral sedation dentist.
Just to make the appointment was incredibly difficult for me.

My phobia started as a result of horrific experiences as a child. My childhood dentist was NOT a nice man and did not offer any kind of Novocaine or pain management at all. Cavity fillings were as painful for me as they get. His bedside manor was terrible as he just didn't care how much squirming or pain I was in. All these visits are embedded in my mind but one visit I have I just get sick to my stomach when I think about it. I was in so much pain and then he hit that nerve. Now mind you I was only like 8 or 9 years old at the time but I remember that day as if it were yesterday. I went to move his hand because that was my only reaction to stop the pain. Well he totally lost it on me and then came the unthinkable SLAP across my face! Tears streaming down my face. He made the remark to me that the decay in that tooth was my fault for eating candy as a kid. I guess looking back now as an adult, this was his way of justifying to himself to resorting to physical abuse. Well needless to say this set the stage for my phobia.

Next ordeal was as a young teenager I was in need of braces. Horrified of any work in my mouth, I told the orthodontist I would not allow braces. This man sat with me for what seemed like hours just talking to me and promised pain free. The only way I agreed to the treatment was if I wore the old style " Night Gear " braces that would mean longer treatment but less invasive as only two teeth would have to have brackets to hold the appliance in my mouth. This man was the most gentle individual that has ever worked on my mouth. I absolutely looked forward to appointments with him as he made me laugh and was so gentle as he knew my phobia. Well as the years past I was close to end of my treatment and on one appointment he did not seem in a good mood. No laughing or singing like he used to do and his hands were trembling in my mouth. I asked him if he was ok, and he just nodded. I remember telling my mother that something was wrong with him that day. Well only two days later the call came in that he had died from a successful suicide. Needless to say I was traumatized. I cried for days. To this day, whenever I drive by his old office, I look at the building and think about him. The whats and why questions that go through my mind will never be answered. Well his practice was taken over by another doctor and I had had enough. I said take the braces off now. And so they did.

Fast forward as an adult I did not go to childhood dentist any longer and toughed it up as I had pain in a tooth. So I found a new dentist. That dentist offered me Novocaine and I was like finally I will feel no pain, or so I thought. It DID NOT work. I hit the ceiling again. This dentist looked at me and said " I don't know what your problem is, I gave you novocaine! ". No sympathy from him at all either. At this point I'm losing faith in myself and in any dentist. I go home from this appointment and my mouth is killing me. More pain than the tooth I had filled was causing to go to the dentist in the first place. So back I go again. Long story short we found out the pain was really from an infected, impacted wisdom tooth. So now I am sent to the oral surgeon who saw that I was a complete basket case with my fear and phobia. Normally this procedure is done in the office but I was so crazy with fear we decided that general anesthesia in the hospital was my only option. So that down the road the other wisdom teeth would not miss the infected wisdom tooth and cause me issues, I had all four taken out that day. I looked like a baseball bat had been swung at my face after. At home and resting my mouth was on fire. Back to the oral surgeon in so much pain to find out that I have dry socket. Over a month of 2-3 visits to have the holes packed with meds.

And here I am now with all these issues. I'm pretty sure I have gum disease and I know I have cavities. I have neglected my mouth, but I just can't get past my fear. When I would go to the dentist I would go into such panic that with NO sleep, panic attack, throwing up, dizzy to point almost pass out. I need help so bad. Has anyone ever been sedated??? The dentist I am going to advertises oral sedation and I have read nothing but great things about him. I am going to tell you that I am going to need something potent to even get me out of the car in his parking lot. My big fear is of course the pain but also that the meds won't work. If that happens I don't know what I will do. I am actually crying as I type this as this fear has taken over my life. My mind wanders and remembers the past to the point I'm not sleeping or eating well at all. Any help and support would be greatly appreciated. I find solace in finding this site and reading others fears and knowing the fact that I'm not alone. Thank-you to anyone who has taken the time to read my story and can help me with any suggestions.
 
carole

carole

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Hi I have been in your position, as children it seemed to be a regular part of treatment not to be numb when having treatment. I have had my ups and downs with dental treatment over the years and I am now nearly 60 and it is only the last 3 years that I have been able to attend appointments without all the symptoms you have described. After saying that I had to attend an appointment at the hospital the other day and I nearly backed out of going. I felt sick and right up until my name was called I was thinking I will tell the receptionist I can't wait and need to make another app.

I stayed and saw a very nice lady so I was pleased that I stayed.

I think that when we have felt afraid as children and sometimes in adult life when attending dental appointments it is very hard to think that things can be okay and work done pain free. It is possible though, we just need to keep trying and if it takes seeing more than one dentist to find someone we can work with then that is what we need to do.

There are a lot of very understanding dentists out there that will go out of their way to help us and will take time to allow us to build up a trust with them. All treatment can be done pain free and it is down to them to make sure we don't feel anything. A first visit will only be a meet and greet with them having a look at our teeth with just a mirror if you are afraid of the probe. They do prefer to take an x ray but if that feels like too much it can be done at another appointment.

If you see a dentist and you feel that they are not listening to you while you explain how you feel and why then don't allow them to even have a look in your mouth. Leave and find another, you can see as many as you want until you find the one for you.

It is a real shame that the dentist you trusted died both on your part and his. I think we sometimes forget that they are just normal people too.

You could try e mailing a few dentists in the areas you wish to travel to explaining how you feel and ask if they can help you get treatment. See what replies you get back and pick one you like the look of and make an appointment when you feel able to. If you can just get that far it will feel like a weight off your shoulders. The next hard step is to get yourself there and face the dentist. Once you are in the room remember they need your permission to even have a look at your teeth, YOU ARE IN CONTROL. You are not a child anymore so they can't bully you and mistreat you, the dentist that actually slapped you should have been prosecuted for the abuse he did against you.

You need to try and put that to the back of your mind as hard as it is and give someone a chance to help you now. We all understand on here how hard it is to take those first few steps but once you have and are happy with the dentist you find it is worth it and you begin to feel stronger and better in your everyday life.

All the best to you, I hope this helps a bit.
 
T

Tink

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Hi, just wanted to say welcome, and give you a hug! :XXLhug:

So sorry to hear about everything that's happened to you, the way you feel is completely understandable. Your story really touched me, especially the part about the kind orthodontist. I would have been devastated too.


Can't comment on sedation (never tried it), but please do know that you are definitely not alone and there is light at the end of the tunnel x
 
C

Cronic Dental Phobia

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Hi I have been in your position, as children it seemed to be a regular part of treatment not to be numb when having treatment. I have had my ups and downs with dental treatment over the years and I am now nearly 60 and it is only the last 3 years that I have been able to attend appointments without all the symptoms you have described. After saying that I had to attend an appointment at the hospital the other day and I nearly backed out of going. I felt sick and right up until my name was called I was thinking I will tell the receptionist I can't wait and need to make another app. I stayed and saw a very nice lady so I was pleased that I stayed. I think that when we have felt afraid as children and sometimes in adult life when attending dental appointments it is very hard to think that things can be okay and work done pain free. It is possible though, we just need to keep trying and if it takes seeing more than one dentist to find someone we can work with then that is what we need to do. There are a lot of very understanding dentists out there that will go out of their way to help us and will take time to allow us to build up a trust with them. All treatment can be done pain free and it is down to them to make sure we don't feel anything. A first visit will only be a meet and greet with them having a look at our teeth with just a mirror if you are afraid of the probe. They do prefer to take an x ray but if that feels like too much it can be done at another appointment. If you see a dentist and you feel that they are not listening to you while you explain how you feel and why then don't allow them to even have a look in your mouth. Leave and find another, you can see as many as you want until you find the one for you. It is a real shame that the dentist you trusted died both on your part and his. I think we sometimes forget that they are just normal people too. You could try e mailing a few dentists in the areas you wish to travel to explaining how you feel and ask if they can help you get treatment. See what replies you get back and pick one you like the look of and make an appointment when you feel able to. If you can just get that far it will feel like a weight off your shoulders. The next hard step is to get yourself there and face the dentist. Once you are in the room remember they need your permission to even have a look at your teeth, YOU ARE IN CONTROL. You are not a child anymore so they can't bully you and mistreat you, the dentist that actually slapped you should have been prosecuted for the abuse he did against you.You need to try and put that to the back of your mind as hard as it is and give someone a chance to help you now. We all understand on here how hard it is to take those first few steps but once you have and are happy with the dentist you find it is worth it and you begin to feel stronger and better in your everyday life. All the best to you, I hope this helps a bit.
Thank-you Carole for your kind words. I have an appointment this Thursday with a dentist. I need to be sedated at the very least. People think I'm crazy I'm so afraid but it's not like I want to be like this, I just can't help myself. I'm terrified to the point I can not relax and get my mind off my mouth worries. I know my parents thought they were doing what was best for me at the time I was a kid but that dentist ruined my trust in anyone and all I can think about is how painful it was. I told the receptionist when I made the appointment that I was extremely scared. I actually was in tears and I'm 52 years old. Crazy huh? Well I also told her no instruments in my mouth. I did say an X-ray I guess I could do as long as NO pain was involved. I need a miracle to get me through this.
 
C

Cronic Dental Phobia

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Hi, just wanted to say welcome, and give you a hug! :XXLhug:So sorry to hear about everything that's happened to you, the way you feel is completely understandable. Your story really touched me, especially the part about the kind orthodontist. I would have been devastated too.Can't comment on sedation (never tried it), but please do know that you are definitely not alone and there is light at the end of the tunnel x
Thank-you Tink I need a hug. It's Saturday and I'm a mess. Crying and all. I just want to get it over whatever needs to be done. I've had 3 children and would much rather give birth again than go through anything with a dentist. I stumbled onto this site and am so glad I did. I know I am not alone and I feel so bad for anyone with dental phobia. It truely can make such an impact on your life. Thank-you again so much for caring enough to console me!
 
carole

carole

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I think you have done really well making the appointment and like you say if you can just get there now and see what happens. Remember YOU ARE IN CONTROL, explain to the dentist how you feel if you find this hard write it down and drop it into the practice before your appointment. I did this with one dentist I wrote a really long letter explaining how I felt and why. He was really pleased that I had written and he thanked me and said that it really helped him to know what my fears were and why. He went through things with me and spent over half an hour just talking to me at one appointment which helped me very much. Unfortunately for me he left and I did have to start again.

I now have a lovely lady dentist that has spent time taking things slowly and when I do need treatment she stops often and asks me all the time if I am okay. I find a dentist that will listen to us and take things slowly gets further with us, because instead of me being worried about them not stopping if I need them to I can allow more work to be done. My dentist stops straight away if I raise my arm.

The dentist you are going to see should listen to you and offer you reassurance and understanding. We do need to help them by explaining what we are afraid of so that they can address this with us. If you feel uncomfortable with the dentist you see then don't go back. After they have been able to have a look with just a mirror if possible and taken an x ray. They should then advise you of the treatment they feel you need and discuss with you the best way to get it done, taking things slowly and at a pace you feel you could cope with. This is not easy but if they take their time and you work with them you will build up a trust with them. Also remember you have worked with a very good dentist once and you can do it again. You just need the right dentist for you.

Things really are much better these days than they used to be. We can offer you as much support and encouragement as you want on here. Different things frighten different people but the fear and stress is the same feeling and we all understand that.
 
C

Cronic Dental Phobia

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I think you have done really well making the appointment and like you say if you can just get there now and see what happens. Remember YOU ARE IN CONTROL, explain to the dentist how you feel if you find this hard write it down and drop it into the practice before your appointment. I did this with one dentist I wrote a really long letter explaining how I felt and why. He was really pleased that I had written and he thanked me and said that it really helped him to know what my fears were and why. He went through things with me and spent over half an hour just talking to me at one appointment which helped me very much. Unfortunately for me he left and I did have to start again. I now have a lovely lady dentist that has spent time taking things slowly and when I do need treatment she stops often and asks me all the time if I am okay. I find a dentist that will listen to us and take things slowly gets further with us, because instead of me being worried about them not stopping if I need them to I can allow more work to be done. My dentist stops straight away if I raise my arm. The dentist you are going to see should listen to you and offer you reassurance and understanding. We do need to help them by explaining what we are afraid of so that they can address this with us. If you feel uncomfortable with the dentist you see then don't go back. After they have been able to have a look with just a mirror if possible and taken an x ray. They should then advise you of the treatment they feel you need and discuss with you the best way to get it done, taking things slowly and at a pace you feel you could cope with. This is not easy but if they take their time and you work with them you will build up a trust with them. Also remember you have worked with a very good dentist once and you can do it again. You just need the right dentist for you. Things really are much better these days than they used to be. We can offer you as much support and encouragement as you want on here. Different things frighten different people but the fear and stress is the same feeling and we all understand that.
Thank-you Carole, you are so sweet! I'm saying prayers I can get past this. I will explain all my fears to the dentist. Perhaps the letter would be a good idea so he knows my background before I walk in. The walking into the place will be very hard for me.
 
carole

carole

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I fully understand how you feel. You will get past this and I know you won't believe me but this is the worst part of all this. When I think back to the complete mess I was when having to go to appointments it was always worse the stress I put myself through and it was just a complete relief and exhausting after I had been. I know the not sleeping and can't think of anything else when I was awake.

The letter worked for me and I think the fact that I got it to the dentist before my appointment meant that he could read it properly when he had time rather than trying to deal with me as well as trying to read it at the appointment. Address the letter to the dentist not just to the practice if you decide to send one.

There really is light at the end of the tunnel.
 
C

Cronic Dental Phobia

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I fully understand how you feel. You will get past this and I know you won't believe me but this is the worst part of all this. When I think back to the complete mess I was when having to go to appointments it was always worse the stress I put myself through and it was just a complete relief and exhausting after I had been. I know the not sleeping and can't think of anything else when I was awake. The letter worked for me and I think the fact that I got it to the dentist before my appointment meant that he could read it properly when he had time rather than trying to deal with me as well as trying to read it at the appointment. Address the letter to the dentist not just to the practice if you decide to send one. There really is light at the end of the tunnel.
I can not thank-you enough Carole. This will really sound crazy but I feel like this is going to be how I die! My mind is in a world wind right now but I'm determined that for my own health I need this taken care of. I'm also concerned about the cost of what I need done. It's really to much going on in my head. I'm going to try and do something like cooking today to see if I just can get my mind off all of this. Will be hard because since I made the appointment it's been 24/7 thinking.
 
T

TwoThirty22

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If we could walk in there with you - we would. We can sort of do so virtually, I guess. So don't feel alone.

One step at a time, now. Just do this one thing for yourself - keep this first appointment. And then worry about the rest of it. Finding out 'what the damage is' is often the hard part.

Anyone with those experiences would feel like you do. I'm a very similar age so also from the time before local anaesthesia was used. (I once bit the dentist! He never forgave me. What made it more difficult was it was a small village and his daughter was one of my best friends!) His wife sobbed uncontrollably when told she had to give me GA (she was the anaesthetist and had been told I had a hole in the heart). That gave me my lifelong fear - seeing an adult react like that. (At the time I hadn't been told I had a heart defect so none of it made sense).
 
C

Cronic Dental Phobia

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If we could walk in there with you - we would. We can sort of do so virtually, I guess. So don't feel alone.One step at a time, now. Just do this one thing for yourself - keep this first appointment. And then worry about the rest of it. Finding out 'what the damage is' is often the hard part.Anyone with those experiences would feel like you do. I'm a very similar age so also from the time before local anaesthesia was used. (I once bit the dentist! He never forgave me. What made it more difficult was it was a small village and his daughter was one of my best friends!) His wife sobbed uncontrollably when told she had to give me GA (she was the anaesthetist and had been told I had a hole in the heart). That gave me my lifelong fear - seeing an adult react like that. (At the time I hadn't been told I had a heart defect so none of it made sense).
Thank-you and I'm so sorry for your problems. That is awful and I am hoping your ok!! I will take this one step at a time. Not much more I can do than that. As each day passes and get closer to my appt I get more and more scared. I will do my best to get through this, I have no choice.
 
tigerstripedred

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Good luck thursday...Reading your horror story made me tear up. What terrible terrible things to go through good for you for speaking up and telling the dentist you will be seeing what you are ok with at your first appointment. I think the very fact that an office has a sedation option says that they are a kind more caring facility because clearly they know they are dealing with very phobic patients I didn't go for 10 years even after a whole filling fell out because I was too scared after some bad experiences similar to yours dental related and some not so much. The only thing that got me back in was the decaying tooth that lost a filling finally abscessed and I kind of didn't have a choice.

As scared as I was I must have found the right dentist finally and while I am still a panicked mess before appointments she is so very good at keeping tabs on me and how I am doing and she puts up with the things I refuse...she hasn't made me feel dumb...and I was able to point blank tell her...I have had a history of not being numb even when I should be and she didn't argue.
Will be thinking of you and hoping you found a dentist that you will feel comfortable with finally. *hugs*
 
C

Cronic Dental Phobia

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Thank-you for your kind words. I'm trying to keep myself together but my fears are getting the best of me. I'm exhausted and not eating well to the point of feeling dizzy. I'm terrified to say the least. This dentist only practices oral sedation not IV, so not sure if that's the route I should consider. But IV sedation is so expensive I don't know if I'll be able to afford all this. So many thoughts going around in my head. I know I'm only to blame for letting all this get ahead of me for not going and seeking help before now but honestly I just didn't want nor do I want to deal with the dentist. My phobia is terrible. Taken over my life.
 
tigerstripedred

tigerstripedred

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I'm right there with you on the not eating or sleeping well *hugs*
so let's look at it this way...you don't have to choose this one. write down questions and concerns... also maybe discuss if there is a small fix you could do first.
they are totally used to this most people who opt for any kind of sedation are petrified. if you don't like this guy see what else is put there. Do what's best for you.
 
C

Cronic Dental Phobia

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I'm trying to convince myself that it's just a first visit and it won't hurt, no pain. Ugh I can't take this anymore.
Why why of all phobias do I have to of a dentist. A co-worker went to her dentist a couple weeks ago. She came back and not a word. She breezed through a cleaning with no fear. A simple cleaning had me clenching the arm rest on the chair!!!
 
T

TwoThirty22

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You need to find the right dentist and then you will be fine even without IV sedation. trust me! I've had GA, IV and now just go with LA and a nice chairside manner, and it's totally fine (so long as I don't fall into the habit of avoidance again which has happened once or twice and then the fear re-grows!)

Once you face this down your fears will become manageable even if they're still there, a bit.

One way to get through is take every second as it comes and keep telling yourself "I'm dealing with this! I've got this!" I was dreading some impressions (molds I think in the US?) the other week, as the last time I had one I gagged. But the dentist decided to do just a partial one, let me sit up for it and was so kind and patient, I did the whole thing without gagging once. As it was happening, I was slowly realising "I've got this! I'm doing this!" Not only the relief afterwards but the pride in the (Silly maybe to others) achievement was huge. In the middle of it, you will realise you CAN do it.

Once having treatment, I find my iPod helps.
 
C

Cronic Dental Phobia

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I will try and do my best. I am at work a mess. Trying to concentrate on my job is so difficult when I can't think of nothing but this appointment. I'll never get through this. Stupid phobia please please just go away.
 
C

Cronic Dental Phobia

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So tomorrow is my appointment. I have thought of nothing but this since I made the appointment a week ago. Sleepless nights and anexiety out the roof. I was thinking. being that I have not been to a dentist in sooooo long I don't need any remarks or looks from him. I also fear that the staff may quietly talk about me. I need not to be judged. I have a problem and to ME it's very real! I know I am jumping the gun but it's embarrising to me that I have neglected my mouth, but I'm scared and have had these feelings most my life. I just hope this dentist is kind and understanding. Took everything I had to make that call. If he gives me a bad look or excuses himself to discuss my situation with staff, I'll loose it. Also I can only do an exam with mirror/X-ray possible, NO hooks, I can't take that. Also I really don't want an assistant in the room so he can call out teeth numbers. That will make me really run for the door! Can I ask for these things ? Can I tell him I'm so terrified that I can only do so much as far a exam? Need help so bad!
 
FearfulInMA

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You can ask for any/all of those things. A good dentist will let you take things at your pace. My teeth were pretty rough when I started going to the dentist after many, many years. Nobody said an unkind word. The dentist just talked with me about a plan to fix things. I don't even remember him saying how many teeth needed to be filled just that he would do them one section at a time. I've now been seeing the same dentist for 8 years (I can't believe it's been that long). I can tell you that, with the right dentist, you will be able to get/keep your teeth/gums healthy! Good luck tomorrow!
 
L

littlething

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Remember that you are in control, and take it one step at a time. Communication is key - be sure to let them know what you can/can't handle. FearfulinMA is right that a good dentist will let you take things at your pace. I just started going last year after 20+ years of not going, and my mouth was a mess. I was so embarrassed about the state of my teeth, and was absolutely terrified of being judged and ridiculed. My boyfriend was the one who gave me the push, and made an appointment for me with an orthodontist, who didn't bat an eye at the state of my mouth, told me that there was hope, and referred me to my dentist, who has seriously changed my life. I had so much anxiety thinking of worst-case scenarios leading up to my initial appointments, and there were plenty of tears. Neither my dentist nor his staff ever said anything to make me feel bad. He just said that he wasn't there to judge, that all he wanted to do was help me, and that he was confident that I could achieve a state of dental health again. Instead of making me feel bad about how bad my teeth were and how much work I needed, he made me feel good about finally getting things fixed.

He he was also careful not to overwhelm me and always took things step-by-step with me. I think he could tell that I wasn't ready to hear about everything that needed to be done quite yet, so he gave me a brief rundown and then scheduled a second appointment with him just to talk options and come up with a treatment plan. He has never pressured me into anything I didn't want to do or wasn't ready for, and has always told me to get things done at a pace to suit my comfort level.

almost a year later, my mouth is pretty much healthy again, and I'm in braces. I even voluntarily decided to go for more frequent cleaning appointments (because of the braces). Taking that first step was so hard for me, but finding the right dentist has been key.

Good luck tomorrow :)
 
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