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Help please. Filling on Thursday and I'm panicking

C

Cribgoch

Member
Joined
Sep 10, 2015
Messages
29
Hi,

Could someone help me please? I have a filling on Thursday and I'm panicking lots. I'm also having horrible thoughts, feelings and nightmares about the procedure. My dental phobia is not linked to a specific thing - it's not the needle the drill or the pain for example. I just panic. I hyperventilate, i can't talk, I feel sick (sometimes I am sick) and I can't even answer basic questions like "how are you?" my mind goes blank. I don't know how to get through the next few days never mind the surgery.

Thanks for reading this.
 
Sevena

Sevena

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Jun 24, 2012
Messages
809
Location
UK
Is your dentist aware of your phobia? What about your doctor? Have you discussed any options? For instance, some people will take something to calm them before the appointment, and there are sedation options for the procedure itself.
 
C

Cribgoch

Member
Joined
Sep 10, 2015
Messages
29
Thanks for replying. Yes my dentist knows about my phobia. I had my first check up with her a month ago. I couldn't really speak to her because I was too anxious so I wrote down a description of my phobia and gave it to her. I didn't know that there are sedation options other than an injection. My dentist said I could have the filling done in hospital but that seems at least as terrifying. She asked me loads of questions but I couldn't answer because I either didn't know what the correct answer was (do I want an amalgam filling or a composite one? No idea! I'd prefer not to have either. ) or I was too scared to speak. I've read most of the articles on this website over the past month but I've still no idea what causes my anxiety and what options are available to lessen it. I mean, I have no idea if this dentist does "stop signals" takes breaks and talks me through the procedure. I can't easily negotiate this sort of stuff during the appointment because last time I was so scared I had a panic attack and couldn't speak. When I finally stopped panicking enough to say anything a completely incoherent babble came out of my mouth! The worst bit is the emotional torture that has been building over the past month. I'm not bothered about the physical pain (sometimes that helps to ground me in the moment) but the emotional pain - the fear and the panic - is horrible. Sorry.
 
Sevena

Sevena

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Messages
809
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What about emailing your dentist office with your questions? That way you can write up the email while safe at home and hopefully cover more bases, rather than trying to remember it all when you're scared and feel like a deer in headlights (a feeling I know too well!)

You could email asking things such as: "Can I have a stop signal, such as raising my hand, so I can take breaks during the procedure if I need to?"

"Can you talk me through the procedure during the appointment, so that I know what's going on?"

"Does your practice offer anything like twilight sedation? If not, are you able to refer me to any dental practices that do offer it?"

It might be worth phoning your doctor too, to see if they can prescribe you anything to take before the appointment.

These are my suggestions for immediate action. In the long-term, if you felt you needed it, maybe finding a practice that offers sedation (if yours doesn't) could help, and perhaps therapy could help you figure out some coping mechanisms.

You do have options!

Panic attacks are your brain entering fight-or-flight mode and flooding your body with adrenaline. There's a part of our brains (and not a very clever part) that perceives danger, and tries to prepare us for fighting or running away. Sometimes reminding myself of the exact cause of my physical panic symptoms would help me not be overcome by them.
 
kitkat

kitkat

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Messages
1,578
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United States
Hi!
Sometimes you end up feeling out some of this stuff (taking breaks, stop signals, talking through procedures) as you go during the first actual procedure with your dentist and will happen organically. I think dentists have a way of adapting treatment as they go to meet each individual patient's needs as there is not a one size fits all approach. Is there any way you can bring a spokesperson of sorts like a supportive friend or family member who can speak for you if you freeze up?!
 
C

Cribgoch

Member
Joined
Sep 10, 2015
Messages
29
Hi!
Sometimes you end up feeling out some of this stuff (taking breaks, stop signals, talking through procedures) as you go during the first actual procedure with your dentist and will happen organically. I think dentists have a way of adapting treatment as they go to meet each individual patient's needs as there is not a one size fits all approach. Is there any way you can bring a spokesperson of sorts like a supportive friend or family member who can speak for you if you freeze up?!

Thanks Kitkat. I guess if I knew the dentist it would be a bit better. I'll see if I can get someone to come with me.
 
C

Cribgoch

Member
Joined
Sep 10, 2015
Messages
29
What about emailing your dentist office with your questions? That way you can write up the email while safe at home and hopefully cover more bases, rather than trying to remember it all when you're scared and feel like a deer in headlights (a feeling I know too well!)

You could email asking things such as: "Can I have a stop signal, such as raising my hand, so I can take breaks during the procedure if I need to?"

"Can you talk me through the procedure during the appointment, so that I know what's going on?"

"Does your practice offer anything like twilight sedation? If not, are you able to refer me to any dental practices that do offer it?"

It might be worth phoning your doctor too, to see if they can prescribe you anything to take before the appointment.

These are my suggestions for immediate action. In the long-term, if you felt you needed it, maybe finding a practice that offers sedation (if yours doesn't) could help, and perhaps therapy could help you figure out some coping mechanisms.

You do have options!

Panic attacks are your brain entering fight-or-flight mode and flooding your body with adrenaline. There's a part of our brains (and not a very clever part) that perceives danger, and tries to prepare us for fighting or running away. Sometimes reminding myself of the exact cause of my physical panic symptoms would help me not be overcome by them.

Thanks :) that's really helpful. I'll get in touch with them today. I like the idea of reminding myself about the fight / flight syndrome. I am sure that the emotional side of all of this is much more scary than the actual treatment.
 
A

andyo

Junior member
Joined
Apr 14, 2009
Messages
12
Hello

I had a filling this morning. It took a lot of effort getting me there and I kept reminding myself that in 20 mins I would be home and dry. In truth, when I sat in the chair I got a little emotional, but it was my anxiety and nothing else.

Listening to advice here, I brought my MP3 player. I had spent a little time choosing what to listen to, s I had also done with what I was going to wear, how I was getting there etc etc.

When I sat in the chair I started by asking lots of questions, how long, what are you using, whats the process. I must have bored the dentist rigid. He showed me the drill and I heard it - much quieter than when I last had the courage to go.

The drilling was absolutely fine. I'm not just saying that, I am the man who would run a mile, who was in tears in the chair, but it was painless. Honest.

The filling going into my mouth took longer, maybe as I cannot sit still, but I tried to relax and let Dr do his thing. The taste was the worst part about this morning... but hey, if I'm moaning about a bad taste in my mouth how bad can it be... a bit bitter maybe. I rinsed out and all was well. Thats the only time I asked him to stop - so I could try and get rid of the taste!!!

..and then he said "All Done!"

Really? Sure? I can go?

Ok - I cried again in the car. I'm a wuss! It does affect me and it stresses me, but I am so happy I have texted everyone today and I'm telling them that if needed I would have another tomorrow!

YOU CAN DO IT! ITS JUST A FEW MINS - HOW GREAT WILL YOU FEEL AFTER??

I love this site and the support it gives me, hopefully you will receive lots back.

Please let me know how you got on - there are many people who are in the same boat.

Andy
 
C

Cribgoch

Member
Joined
Sep 10, 2015
Messages
29
Hi All,

Just a quick note to say thanks for all your support and advice. Unfortunately things didn't go quite to plan. I phoned the dentist the day before to remind them of my fear then I saw my GP and she gave me some medication to take this morning to help calm me down. I drove to the dentist and was ok-ish. Got into the surgery, had a massive panic aattack. The dentist refused to treat me because I could not give verbal consent even though I had signed all the paperwork. The dentist wants me to go back to the doctors and sort out my dental phobia with medication. Then she's going to refer me to a hospital so I can have sedation or a general anaesthetic. This all seems a bit extreme for a filling. I feel humiliated and upset and a complete failure. Plus I have a dull ache in the wisdom tooth and I don't know if it's infected or something or if it's just psychosomatic pain because I'm so stressed. Not a great morning :(
 
T

Tink

Well-known member
Joined
May 14, 2013
Messages
752
Location
UK
Hi cribgoch -

Sorry to hear it didn't go so well. Sounds like you could use a hug :XXLhug:

You are not a failure, you have a phobia. In fact, you've done really, really well to get this far, and this was not your fault, it's just one of those things that happens - and there are lots of people here in the same boat. Don't be so hard on yourself!


I know it's frustrating, but the dentist was right to not go ahead, consent is really important and it's a process, not just something where you sign a form and then that's you committed to going ahead regardless. The forms are mainly there for legal arse-covering. The real, meaningful consent is the verbal bit and ongoing through the treatment - the dentist wants you to actually be OK with being treated.

It also sounds like she correctly identified that she's not equipped to provide you with what you need and is looking for somebody better placed to treat phobic patients.

Medication from your doctor isn't the only route - although it is one and many people find it helps, so do go and see what they think if that appeals to you - there are also dentists out there who have a special interest in treating phobic patients, or you can look at techniques like hypnosis, counselling, or desensitisation therapy to help manage your phobia.

Are you in the UK? Some of the dental hospitals run special clinics for phobic patients I think.


Meanwhile take it easy today and be kind to yourself, this sort of emotional rollercoaster can be exhausting x
 
C

Cribgoch

Member
Joined
Sep 10, 2015
Messages
29
Thanks Tink :) hug much appreciated. Yes, I'm in the UK so maybe I'll get on better with a dental hospital. I was trying to see my filling as "just routine dentistry" but the idea of going to hospital seems a bit extreme for just a filling.

Thanks for your support :)
 
T

Tink

Well-known member
Joined
May 14, 2013
Messages
752
Location
UK
For what it's worth, there are lots of people who end up going to the dental hospital for fillings, you're definitely not alone there. It's what they do and they will be very used to seeing it.
 
C

Cribgoch

Member
Joined
Sep 10, 2015
Messages
29
For what it's worth, there are lots of people who end up going to the dental hospital for fillings, you're definitely not alone there. It's what they do and they will be very used to seeing it.

True :) I guess it's the whole "unknown" side of having to travel some distance to a hospital, being in a strange environment and with unknown staff that just adds to the stress. My parents assure me that I didn't mind seeing our family dentist as a child so maybe there's something there about building a relationship with the dentist rather than going straight into treatment. That might be hard at a hospital.
 
T

Tink

Well-known member
Joined
May 14, 2013
Messages
752
Location
UK
Ok, I completely understand that! Building up a relationship can make a huge difference.

I'm not sure how the dental hospitals work (and it may vary between hospitals), but I have heard of people going there for ongoing dental phobia treatment, so they would see the same person several times. If you're just going once for a filling though, then obviously you would get whoever you get and I can see why that would be difficult! For what it's worth, the people at the dental hospitals do tend to be very good at what they do so you will be in good hands, and they will be very used to dealing with this.


If you're really not keen on the hospital option, your other option would be to look around for another dentist who has more experience with or a special interest in working with phobic patients who would take you on. Sometimes if you are lucky you can find this on the NHS, although you may have to go private. It really depends on who you can find in your area. If you can finance it, a private dentist may be a good option to consider as they are generally able to spend more time with you on working through this sort of thing, and can go at whatever pace is best for you.
 
C

Cribgoch

Member
Joined
Sep 10, 2015
Messages
29
Thanks again Tink. I saw my GP today who is 100% convinced that I do have dental phobia and not any other kind of anxiety disorder so that's helpful. He happened to have a trainee with him who used to work in phobia management and is training to be a GP. She commented that phobias are extremely debilitating but actually quite easy to treat. I now have the name of a local dentist that specialises in anxious patients so I'm going to pluck up the courage to make contact. Meanwhile if my NHS dentist referral to the hospital comes through then it makes sense to at least try that option, especially as I have a dull ache in my lower left wisdom tooth so I guess it needs sorting soon. Thanks again for your help, Tink :)
 
Sevena

Sevena

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Joined
Jun 24, 2012
Messages
809
Location
UK
I had my treatment done at a dental hospital. They had a special unit called "special care", where they could offer sedation. I had many appointments over the course of a year or two (I had a lot wrong with my teeth!). The staff were all very kind and nice.

Phobias definitely can be treated with therapy techniques, though it's not an overnight process. And, like others have said, finding a dentist who you feel you can trust and have a good relationship with can make a world of difference.

Stay optimistic! I'm sure you'll find your way through this :)
 
T

Tink

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Joined
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Messages
752
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He happened to have a trainee with him who used to work in phobia management and is training to be a GP. She commented that phobias are extremely debilitating but actually quite easy to treat. I now have the name of a local dentist that specialises in anxious patients so I'm going to pluck up the courage to make contact.

That's great news, sounds like the way to go! Let us know how you get on x
 
C

Cribgoch

Member
Joined
Sep 10, 2015
Messages
29
Just another update from me:
My GP recommended a dentist that specialises in dealing with phobic patients. I emailed their office for more information and had a lovely reply. I've since plucked up the courage to make an appointment. It's tomorrow. I'm nervous and worried that I'll have another series of panic attacks but I'm hoping that since they specialise in phobic patients that at least if the worst does happen they'll know what to do. Hopefully without quoting NICE guidelines and threatening me with extractions without even looking at my teeth!
 
Sevena

Sevena

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Jun 24, 2012
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Well done for making the appointment! Very brave! Please don't fear the worst. Even if it does happen, it'll be useful to the dentist to get to see what your phobia is like, so no matter what, this is a step forward.

Good luck! :hug4:
 
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