• Dental Phobia Support

    Welcome! This is an online support group for anyone who is very afraid of dentistry or who suffers with dental phobia. Please note that this is NOT a general dental forum! You can find a list of them here.

    Register now to access all the features of the forum.

Helping a friend. I value your feedback!

N

North

Junior member
Joined
Oct 27, 2007
Messages
4
Salut!

I want to post on this site to talk to all of you because Amy -- my friend -- needs help and I thought what better people to ask but to value the experience of those who are struggling with the same issue. So if you wouldn't mind responding back to me with honesty and practical-ness, I think I can use this information to really be of help Amy who has a bad case of dental fear.

I hope I don't trigger anything in any of you by asking, but I know my friend needs much more than the blunt "go see a dentist" already because that hasn't obviously worked, and I want to be sensitive to her feelings/emotions. yelling at her and guilting her, as some of my friends have done, has not helped and has only frustrated her further. I just want to help.

I guess I already knew Amy was having trouble with her teeth because sometimes while talking or eating, she'd stop for a second mid-sentence or mid-chew and put a hand up to cheek. When you asked her what was wrong, she'd get all tense and say she had just bit her tongue.

After awhile, I realized no one bites their tongue that much!!!!! I knew something was up. And maybe I'm glad now that she's been forced to admit that her teeth are bothering her.

Some of our male friends can be hockey playing jerks and at first, joking around, have offered her some DIY dentistry options or have kinda teased her about this.. Soon, though, I think we all realized that this was a little more serious since she just won't go.

And like I said, enough people have told Amy point blank to "just f-ing go already". I wasn't so great, either, because I don't like to see her in pain so I think I pushed her a little bit too much and couldn't understand why she said she just couldn't.

Now I realize it's fear that's stopping her. I want to help, but I don't know how. Because like I'm telling her that it isn't going to be that bad and it's not the same kind of dentistry from like the 1800, but I can't seem to make her feel better.

The pain was on and off for her, but now I've been noticing that Amy is in pain a lot of the time. Oh ya, and it's not her right cheek that's swollen a little, it's actually below that, like it's her neck right under her jaw that's tender. Does that have something to do with it?

And she told me once that she had this lump inside her mouth -- which I think is from an infection, btw -- when her pain got really bad and I really wanted her to go see a dentist. I got kinda scared and mad, too, because I don't want her to be in pain. But Amy kept sliding out of going to see a dentist even though I think things are getting more serious. Anyway, she then came back to me and said she had split (was it an abscess?) the lump herself and all this infection came out and now she feels better/in less pain.

But what really scares me is that she admitted to me that she did that to herself, like she took some pin or knife or something and opened the infection herself. I mean, how desperate does someone have to be?!?!!?? I don't understand why she won't just let me take her. I asked her once why she's so afraid and she said she had a really bad dentist before she came here to Canada and that's what fucked her up.

If anyone could please help me understand her right now, that would be excellent. I just want to help, but I don't know what to do or say. But I don't want to hurt  her feelings and make her feel bad because she probably feels bad/is in enough pain already.

Are there any real risks to not see a dentist, health wise, other than pain. Because she says she can handle the pain. And I pretty much think that DIY dentistry is a bad thing, can she seriously hurt herself by doing that? How bad is DIY dentistry?

Any insight would be greatly appreciated. Like I said, I wanted to come here to hear your side of the fear equation so I know how to approach her better and I can understand more where she is coming from. Because simply scolding her about not going to the dentist doesn't help. It's like she just can't go.

Any help or insight from anyone would be awesome! Thanks

Kitty!
 
V

vict4ia

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 16, 2007
Messages
392
Location
New Hampshire
Hi Kitty,

Your friend is lucky to have a concerned friend like you. I can't really comment on your health questions other than to say that DIY dentistry can NOT be a good thing. It sounds like your friend should at least see a doctor about her issues, even if she can't bring herself to see a dentist right away.

Fear of the dentist is very real and very debilitating. It's not something that will respond to even the soundest logic - especially not from a layperson. It is not something that will be bullied away and it is not something that will just magically disappeared. Fear of the dentist really does a trick on a person's trust, self esteem, and health. You need only look at the journals and stories on this site to get a glimpse into just how real the fear...terror...is.

That said, there are a few things you may want to try:

1) Reassure your friend. Let her know that she's not abnormal for being afraid of the dentist. As I was told by my dentist, at least 25% of the population is afraid of the dentist. Let her know that it is ok to be scared. I would be willing to be that every one of us on this board had a good cry at the prospect of going to the dentist and many of us, myself included, had a melt down in the dentist's office. It's ok. It's nothing that the dentist has not seen before.
2) Telling her that dentistry has changed a lot probably won't have a lot of impact on your friend. Instead, you may want to do some research into dentists in your area. I found my dentist through the web. Her website spoke a lot about dealing with patients in all stages of dental care and spoke about dealing with people who have phobias. Finding an understanding and caring dentist really makes a big difference. If you can demonstrate to her that there are caring options out there, she may be willing to go.
3) Volunteer to go with her.
4) Although she may not listen, let her know that dentists really are there to help. They aren't the enemy. (That's something she'll need to really find out for herself, though.)
5) Maybe help her to arrange a visit with a dentist just to talk about her dental problems and fears. Once she meets a dentist who is willing and able to provide reassurance, she may be more willing to proceed.
6) Don't underestimate the power and reality of the fear she's going through. Think of the fear you would feel if you were to walk off a cliff into a black hole without having any idea of whether or not there will be anything to break your fall. Now, imagine feeling that fear every single day of your life and you will begin to scratch the surface of what she's going through.

Of course, you may want to point her to this site. We're all here for the same reason.

Good luck!
 
brit

brit

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Mar 23, 2006
Messages
6,807
Location
In My Dental Happy Place
All excellent points from vict4ia.
I would just add that she may be unaware that she doesn't have to do this the 'hard conventional way' and that there are loads of sedation options available, at least to get the initial work done.

Finding a sympathetic dentist whose personality is right is very important but if that can be backed up by a barrage of ultra-modern techniques and sedation options, so much the better....so finding a suitable dentist for her could help a lot as many phobics couldn't bring themselves to do that sort of research and indeed some dental websites are scarier to view than others.

Try to get her to explain more about what was so awful about the dentist who gave her the phobia..was it pain? or other aspects such as being unfriendly or feeling out of control?
Read the 'Common Fears' link on here and then encourage her to answer what would have to happen to make her feel ok about visiting a handpicked dentist 'just for a chat'? It's usually things like no negative remarks, no telling off, no making me do anything I don't want to.

The worst thing you could do, would be to just drag her along to 'just any old dentist'...they are not all the same...they do not all carry the same level of emotional and physical risk whatever you may think personally....some truly do go out of their way to offer painless procedures and care about their patients' comfort, a significant minority don't and think some degree of 'discomfort' is the norm.
I used to think all dentists were basically ok after years of good adult experiences until very recently...now I'm not phobic, never have been, just careful where I go  :p.
I have found websites to be a good method...you are basically looking for a section on anxiety and nervousness and comments about 'comfort'.  

I know from personal experience how hard it is to help a friend because you don't wish to jeopardise the friendship by forcing her to confront the fear.
Offering to read this website with her, research and book a chat only appt with a handpicked dentist, and to be willing to go along and hold her hand or wait outside for her, would all be potentially useful.
Good luck...you could be in for a long haul. It would be worth it if you could get her to take the first step. Thanks for trying.
:grouphug:
 
letsconnect

letsconnect

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 1, 2005
Messages
5,732
Brit said:
The worst thing you could do, would be to just drag her along to 'just any old dentist'...they are not all the same...they do not all carry the same level of emotional and physical risk whatever you may think personally....some truly do go out of their way to offer painless procedures and care about their patients' comfort, many don't.

On the other hand, if you can whole-heartedly recommend your own dentist (assuming he or she is gentle and caring), then a personal recommendation can be far better than searching for someone over the internet. Even though a lot of people have had success with this method, others haven't - talk is cheap, and websites don't always reflect the reality. Not all people with a dental phobia necessarily need a dentist who "specializes in nervous patients". Also, some people don't like the idea of sedation, so when talking to her, be aware of that and don't push it as the solution to her problems.

Find out what your friend would need to know before she could see a dentist. For example, these could be things like needing to know that the dentist will not make negative comments about her teeth, that s/he will not hurt her, and so forth. You can have a look at things that people fear on this page:


The downloads on the following page might give you some idea of the types of things people with a dental phobia might need to know in order to be able to make an appointment:


If you have a very caring dentist that you'd like to recommend to her, you could make sure that s/he's aware of your friend's feelings and agrees to a chat-only appointment - basically, an opportunity for your friend to meet the dentist (if possible, outside the treatment room) and see if she feels comfortable with them.

Be warned - usually, it takes quite a long time before people who are scared of dentists to get to the stage where they'll actually contemplate going. If she opens up to you and tells you what happened to her in the past, you can help by saying how what happened was terrible and wrong (that's if it was - you shouldn't resort to lying, but if the story you get to hear is pretty awful, don't disguise your feelings and let her know that what happened to her was very wrong and should never have happened). Oftentimes, people with bad dental experiences think that what happened to them is "the norm" and that everyone else is just much thicker-skinned than they are - which of course is not the case, otherwise nobody would get dental care.

It sounds like you're a great friend to have around and I wish you the best of luck with it :grouphug:
 
V

vict4ia

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 16, 2007
Messages
392
Location
New Hampshire
That's a good point. Definitely don't just take a website's word for the fact that they offer the type of care that your friend will need. Many of us, myself included, emailed and called the dentist's office and had some interactions with the staff before we would even consider going. Even then, it was a terrifying experience because we still didn't really know what to expect. A personal recommendation is always better. If recommendations are in short supply, though, the web can be a good starting place. Just remember to follow up.

Finding more about the various types of fears can be very reassuring. I felt much better when I found out that I'm not the only one who fears the diagnosis. One caution, though, looking at the fears that other people have can add another element of fear. When I was looking through the list of common fears I thought, "Oh my Gosh! I hadn't even THOUGHT of that! That could happen??? :scared:" That, of course, gave me something ELSE to worry about. So, if you find out what your friend is afraid of, you might want to print out the portions of the pages that are applicable to her.
 
M

mrpanic

Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2007
Messages
24
I as a person can really understand you kitty. My mate Scott well he did the exact same thing to me. He put me on a guilt trip, I told him to back off as it was a very touchie subject I told him I was too affraid to go. Still he persisted n ran a guilt trip up on me. I kept on blanking him but let me tell you it worked. Little did I know my subconcionce really took it in. I know my mate cares for me I know he watches my back. Really my advise to is dont push Amy todo anything as Ive been through almost identeical situation to her. Pushing you mate could damage your freindship and make her run away from her problems and you! I advise for you to be there for her and maybe raise the subject now n then just to keep letting her know that you are trying to help not nag or take the p*ss. Really Amy must be facing such a huge phobia or a situation as to where she was in before n it all went wrong. Alot of reasureance would be a great tip n also just let her deal with it her way. Havent said that If she does not eventually confine in you n let her help you I think you should think of other approaches or different measures to take. Put it this way I neglegted my mouth for 8 years. N now ive got a complete smashed broken raw nerve exposure pain constantly back row of teeth. Now thats bad! You need to act upon her quickly without scaring her or rushin her into anything. Tell you what why not ask a dentist to see you friend maybe just for a talk, that could relax her. But if she keeps goin on this way then belive me itll get very bad for her! Screw with life but not ya health! Lesson learnt Kitty!
 
mikey

mikey

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 18, 2007
Messages
1,120
Location
South Carolina
You could get her to come to these forums :thumbsup:, then she can talk with other people that are the same as her, and that might help :confused:... best of wishes

-mikey :party:
 
N

North

Junior member
Joined
Oct 27, 2007
Messages
4
Wow, this is a lot to process and it's just the beginning. I'll try my best. And thank you for sharing your stories with me. I'm trying to figure out what she's going through so I can tailor what I say to help her so she'll be less annoyed by me.

Amy's a tough hockey playing girl, I know she's tough and she makes sure other people know she's tough. So when you call her on the pain issue, it doesn't really seem to work. I think she does this to be in denial about the pain, but she can't hide the expression on her face.

First and foremost, to be honest and maybe this has more to do with me and my issues, but more important than getting her to see a dentist *right this very instant* is I really want to approach her to ask her to stop this DIY dentistry stuff. I don't want her to rely on painkillers as a treatment option and more importantly, I don't want her to be sticking any pins or little knives or whatever she used to drain that abscess. I know she said she got immediate relief, but I think sticking things into your mouth is only going to make it worse. Does anyone agree?

Does the fact that she did this -- drained the abscess herself (out of pain and frustration) mean that she has a really really really bad case of dental phobia?

I think we have to tackle that first off. Because I'm really worried she is really gonna screw something up. I agree with you Vict4ia, it can't be good

....or maybe it is really ok but I'm just freaking out about it because it freaks me out. It seems so drastic, which makes me sad to know she is that desperate. Is it ok to ask, has anyone else ever thought about DIY'ing the problem yourself?


Thanks for the suggestion, Brit, that I try and find out more specifically why she's afraid because you're right, I do think that would help me understand her better. Knowing her, she isn't gonna come onto this site to read anything, but that's ok, she's like a sister to me and I'll bring the information to her through my comfort filter.

I have to say, Brit and Letsconnect, I know an awesome dentist, so I would love for Amy to see him, too. Something really really bad and mean happened to another friend of mine and afterwards she would not let anyone go near her afterwards to touch her or anything and didn't trust anyone but she totally trusted this dentist, Dr. Peter Copp, and he and his staff are angels. I would recommend that team to anyone around Toronto, Canada.

Dr. Copp does all sorta of different sleeping-through-it options but just in general, he's so compassionate and tender. A wonderful human being (sorry if that made me sound like a hippie)

Anyway, I would love it if I could get Amy into his office so I'm working on that goal. Thanks for the suggestion that we can book a chat session. But I don't want to rush her because I don't want to push her away.


I'm sorry, Mrpanic, you're having such a hard time with your teeth all being broken. Thanks so much for your advice on being a good friend because I'm trying to be.

I know a few of you mentioned the strain on your relationships that I've already felt when I've brought this up with Amy. I think in a way she got busted because it's her back teeth that are messed up but she was able to hide the damage from us. Of course, now I don't want to be constantly staring at her mouth to try to assess if things are getting any worse because that visual attention might freak her out more.

I have been hearing from some people here that embarrassment about how your teeth look makes you sad and anxious. Come to think of it, I guess Amy is lucky because her front teeth look fine so she's been able to hide.

Is there any polite way I can bring up not the look but the state of her teeth and mention that they look sore ...maybe that could start us talking about it, or would that embarrass her too much. How would you have liked to be approached? How would you like to be treated?  My friend Jim left tubes of tooth paste twice in her locker as a hint and it backfired big time.

Do you think I could maybe give her something for the pain, a way of showing I understand she’s in pain...what works best for the pain, anyway?  What can I suggest to her …so she doesn’t try that DIY trick again.

thanks,
kitty!
 
brit

brit

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Mar 23, 2006
Messages
6,807
Location
In My Dental Happy Place
The DIY dentistry thing is not uncommon judging from posts and the special section on it on here  :p. We do not recommend it, obviously. I am no expert but I would say yes it does indicate that she has a bad case of dental phobia rather than dental anxiety. You probably also need to consider that maybe (?) she could be an abuse survivor in addition to having had bad experiences with a dentist.

The pain thing could just be denial and in fact pain could be her greatest fear..maybe someone refused anaesthetic or it didn't work properly..until you ask you won't know. Some people dislike feeling numb or are needle phobics....does she have issues with medical doctors/procedures do you know?

The fact that you've got a dentist in mind you can vouch for is a great bonus.....could the friend he helped meet her and share her experience? There are a couple of other dentists listed for Toronto on our DentistFinder.

How to proceed is difficult...I got to the stage with my friend where she would let me raise the subject if I or my kids had had a check up/treatment for instance. She even met me for a coffee before an appointment one time.

She was initially the type who had to leave the room if the subject came up (she got over this) but unlike your friend she was the type who would go if the pain drove her to it....so she maybe isn't as hard a nut to crack as your friend. Unfortunately at the time, my own dentist was not one I could wholeheartedly recommend to a scared person so I was not able to square the circle.

I don't think playing on the appearance of her teeth is a good approach (unless she is especially vain)...the sake of her health and the need for functional teeth to be able to chew and enjoy good food is much more valid...there was a newstory recently in the US about a 10 (?) year old boy dying from an untreated dental abcess because his parents couldn't afford care for him.

The first appt with your  :-* dentist (it's great when you have one of those :cloud9: I know, not hippyish at all!), should definitely just be a chat about her fears paying for his time, away from the treatment room...keep the support staff out of it, if you can, one person at a time. He sounds like a great choice...at least two of you can vouch for him to her.
Good luck again..keep in touch.
 
L

lotus

Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2005
Messages
58
Location
Australia
Hey North!

What a great friend you are! Amy sure is lucky to have a friend willing to research things like you have done. If you can somehow get her to this website/board it might be a big help for her, I know it was an amazing relief for me to know I wasn't crazy/weak/alone. My partner helped me get to the dentist by going to the dentist himself first for a check up, so I could just go and just check the place out without the dentist focusing on me. Don't know if that might help your friend, if you went first, talked to her about you going? Just an idea....

Lotus
 
letsconnect

letsconnect

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 1, 2005
Messages
5,732
I can't really add much to what others have already said - some great suggestions there :D. Just a few small things:

North said:
First and foremost, to be honest and maybe this has more to do with me and my issues, but more important than getting her to see a dentist *right this very instant* is I really want to approach her to ask her to stop this DIY dentistry stuff. I don't want her to rely on painkillers as a treatment option and more importantly, I don't want her to be sticking any pins or little knives or whatever she used to drain that abscess. I know she said she got immediate relief, but I think sticking things into your mouth is only going to make it worse. Does anyone agree?

Actually, draining the abscess with a needle wouldn't do much harm. The abscess would be full of bacteria, anyway, so even if the needle isn't properly disinfected, it won't make much of a difference... The problem is of course that the infection is still there, and sooner or later, the pain will return.

I have to say, Brit and Letsconnect, I know an awesome dentist, so I would love for Amy to see him, too. Something really really bad and mean happened to another friend of mine and afterwards she would not let anyone go near her afterwards to touch her or anything and didn't trust anyone but she totally trusted this dentist, Dr. Peter Copp, and he and his staff are angels. I would recommend that team to anyone around Toronto, Canada.

Dr. Copp does all sorta of different sleeping-through-it options but just in general, he's so compassionate and tender. A wonderful human being (sorry if that made me sound like a hippie)

I think I've heard his name mentioned before somewhere - do you mind if we add him to our list of recommended dentists :)?

Is there any polite way I can bring up not the look but the state of her teeth and mention that they look sore ...maybe that could start us talking about it, or would that embarrass her too much. How would you have liked to be approached?

Maybe if you approached her when there's nobody else around and told her that it makes you really worried and sad that she is in so much pain. It might be best not to put Amy on the spot, but instead to focus on how it makes *you* sad and upset to see her suffer. You could also mention that another friend of yours was very scared, too, after a bad experience, and that your dentist was absolutely wonderful with your friend... Take the focus away from her and maybe describe the dentist's personality in a bit more detail. She may not say so immediately, but she might store away this information for future use :).


Do you think I could maybe give her something for the pain, a way of showing I understand she’s in pain...what works best for the pain, anyway? What can I suggest to her …so she doesn’t try that DIY trick again.

The painkiller of choice for dental pain is ibuprofen (although others can work as well). Make sure she doesn't have any contraindications like asthma though. Then again, she's well able to buy her own painkillers, and it might backfire the same way that leaving toothpaste in her locker did. "Hinting" can be much more hurtful than addressing the issue directly.
 
N

North

Junior member
Joined
Oct 27, 2007
Messages
4
Hey Everyone!

My name's Kitty and I had posted on here a while ago that I was trying to help my friend out who has serious issues about going to the dentist -- and she unfortunately has issues with her teeth.

Well, one friend and I (i wanted to keep the group small so to not overwhelm her; because i know she's embarassed by it) got together and thought that the best way for us to help our friend was to organize everything to keep her stress level down.

So i thought this: we would talk to her and then whenever she wanted, we'd go book the dentist appointment for her. But more importantly, when we knew the date, i'd organized the night before and the afternoon after the consultation. I thoughts this would be best so, the night before, we could keep her mind off of things or be there for her if she wanted to talk about her feelings. And I'd also organized some quiet downtime at my pad so we could debrief afterwards, etc. But most importantly, we'd get the dental appointment done and we'd both be there chilling in the waiting room if she needed anything from us.

Anyway, so we then sat her down and like were very calm and I expressed first my concern about her health (I thought this might be better than stressing out her teeth and how they look or whatever) concerning her teeth and that I noticed that she's been having some troubles with her teeth, etc.

And then I went on to explain that we'd be there the whole way through so she wouldn't have to feel alone and scared or vulnerable (I know she hates that!), so I said that we had planned for her to spend time with us the night before and the afternoon after to just chill out. She just needed to tell us when she wanted to go and we'd take care of everything for her.

She freaked out on us. Like she had a meltdown. She started to yell that we were trying to control her and that we had ganged up on her. And she yelled that she wanted us, well, me really, to leave her alone because she could handle things on her own and that she had been handling things just fine....

I mean, I don't want to get mad at her for yelling at my friend and I even though we were just trying to help and she didn't have to blow up at us, but then again, I respect the fact that when people are afraid, their emotions can be all over the place. So I just want to stay calm myself about the blow up.

I don't know what to do, though. I do feel awful that she felt I was trying to control her and that I had -- with my friend -- ganged up on her when we only had her health and well being as our best intentions. I have no idea what to do now. I'm afraid she's gonna go into herself more now and let no one can help her. She's just gonna yell again that she can handle it and doesn't need help. She yelled that like 100 times.

I feel like such a big boob! I only wanted to help. What did I do wrong? Was my planning too much? I didnt want to overwhelm her, that's why I wanted her to pick the date but also not have to have her worry about the little things like the debrief afterwards because I love her and I want to take care of her so she doesn't feel alone. She's been my best friend for like a zillion years. I don't like to see her in pain.

I know I screwed up big time. What can I do? If anyone woulnd't mind sharing with me what they would want as a phobic patient and what you know you'd need and would like from a friend from your prespective, please please let me know what I can do to repair this. Gawd, I feel like such a boob. This is not what I wanted to happen. I was just trying to help.

Help!
 
letsconnect

letsconnect

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 1, 2005
Messages
5,732
Hi Kitty :),

look at it from Amy's perspective... I don't know if you have any fears, but let's assume for a moment that you were absolutely terrified of rats. If two friends told you that they'd arranged for you to spend a day in a locked, dark room with hundreds of rats gnawing at you - BUT you were allowed to pick your date and your friends would look after you the evening before and the the afternoon afterwards to chill out with you - would that really sound like an attractive proposition to you, or would you freak out and tell your friends to get stuffed?

It sounds like Amy was put into much the same position (from her perspective), and it's not surprising she felt controlled and ganged up upon.

Assuming that Amy is an adult, she is free to make her own decisions about her healthcare. There is actually nothing you or your friends can do about that. She is entitled to her freedom to choose. That's a basic human right.

Although your desire to help is well-intentioned, it doesn't seem to do much good :(. It might be hard to accept that you can do nothing to help (and feeling helpless is not a nice feeling), but sometimes we can't do anything but offer - and if the offer isn't accepted, the best thing to do might be to forget about it unless the person actually asks for help.

My suggestion would be to write her a letter of apology, admitting that she's entitled to make her own decisions, and that you're sorry you were so insensitive and sprung this on her. Explain your reasons behind your actions (that you felt scared about her health) and leave her the name and address of the dentist you want to recommend, in case she ever wants it at some point in the future (maybe include a short description of what he's like, and that he helped a friend of yours who used to be scared of dentists).

And then, don't bring up the subject ever again. It may not be easy for you, but the ball really is in Amy's court, and it's her right to do whatever she wants to do.

That's just my opinion - maybe others feel differently...

All the best :grouphug:
 
scaredstiff

scaredstiff

Well-known member
Joined
May 20, 2007
Messages
2,295
Location
Wales
I can see what you did was really out of concern for your friend and you really thought you were doing what you thought was best for her. However, I can imagine how she feels and what is going through her mind. The biggest issue she now has is that she can't trust you, and that is going to take a lot of getting over. I agree with Let's Connect's suggestion that you write a note. Your friend now knows you know she has a problem and in time it is possible that she will feel a little relieved that she is not alone and might even broach the subject with you. It's a really difficult situation and if you do nothing you're damned, if you do something, it might be wrong and you could make matters worse.
Having said that, I think if I were in your place I would definitely write a little note (not typed up on computer but more personal in handwriting) telling her that you are very sorry, but you were concerned and thought you were helping her, and then leave it at that. If nothing else, that could help ease your own feelings of guilt.
I really do hope it gets sorted out, and that she does eventually decide that she has to face her fears. As regards the DIY dentistry and draining the abscesses, I did this with one tooth for more than 15 years, always making sure though the needle was completely sterile. Obviously that never cured the cause but it kept me alive (and on that score I'm not joking) until after 40 years of not going to a dentist, common sense overtook the fear.
 
V

vict4ia

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 16, 2007
Messages
392
Location
New Hampshire
Hi Kitty,

LetsConnect makes some great points. I just want to build on it a bit.

I think the thought you had was very sweet. It's a good friend who would make such elaborate plans to help a friend and I'm sure that on some level, when she thinks about it a bit more, Amy will be able to acknowledge that your intentions were good. I think it's great that you want to help your friend but, since you asked, I think maybe the biggest mistake was in not having the conversation one-on-one. Many of us dental phobics are rather embarrassed by our fears. I think LetsConnect's illustration with the rats is excellent and can help you to get an idea of what the fear feels like. But, now, imagine that your fear is nothing nearly as socially acceptable as being afraid of rats. Suppose, instead, that you had that same "I could die at the very thought of it" feeling about getting you hair cut - something that you figure most of the population does without a second thought. It's REALLY embarrassing.

Many of us, myself included, wouldn't even admit our fear to our best friends or our closest loved ones. It took me years to be able to admit my fear to my husband and to my family members. It took another couple of years after that to get the courage to go to the dentist. So, knowing that my friends had been discussing my fear on such an elaborate level would probably leave me feeling betrayed. I know you feel hurt and you were trying to help. Your friend feels hurt AND scared. You've been friends a long time and I'm sure you can get through this with a little TLC.

Making this situation better is going to involve your taking responsibility and letting Amy be ticked for a little while. I think LetsConnect is right. I think you may want to write a letter. Actually, I think it would be even better, if she'll listen to you, to talk to her fact-to-face. I wouldn't dwell on the fact that you were trying to help - Amy knows that you were trying to help. I would tell her that she had a right to be upset and that there's no way that you would ever upset her on purpose. The one thing I'd do differently than LetsConnect, though - I definitely wouldn't give her the information for the dentist unless she asks for it. She most likely feels pushed as far as she's willing to go at the moment. In fact, I'd hardly mention dentists or teeth at all. I think I'd go more the route of, "I'm really sorry that I hurt you. You have a right to be upset with me. I handled the situation poorly. I want you to know that I support you in whatever decision you make and if you ever DO want my help, you just have to ask. I have some information that can help if you want it and I'll be there in whatever way you need me. Otherwise, consider the subject closed."

And then, as LetsConnect said, I'd drop it. As angry as she is, you've given you friend something to think about. That's as much as you can do.
 
liberated

liberated

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 7, 2007
Messages
141
Location
Czech Republic
Hi Kitty,

I'm really sorry to hear that. You can never fully predict one's reactions. You are great friend, because you care and you are willing to risk that she may get crossed with you when you open to her. I know you are probably feeling down now, but don't be too hard on yourself, you are doing your best to help your friend.

The way how Amy has reacted to your effort doesn't actually say much about how she feels about you, but it's a way how she tries to hide her fear and embarassment. I'm sure she realizes or soon will realize that you want to help her. Most likely she will not admit it, but deep inside she will know.

I agree with Letsconnect about writing a letter and then never bringing up the subject again. I'll add some more suggestions. Don't give her the letter personally, don't leave it in her locker etc, because if you do it, she may continue in the game she started and will demonstrate to you that she doesn't want your help by throwing it away, tearing it or whatever. I'd rather send it by regular mail so that she will be sure that you can't see her accepting it and therefore feel relatively safe. Once she finds it in her mailbox I think she will be curious enough to read it. You can also type the address instead of handwriting if you want to be sure that she will open.

What I'm going to write now would probably work for me, but everybody is different, so it may be different for Amy. I was in a similar position - I didn't want anybody else (and especially not my friends) involved, because I was too embarassed. You wrote that she is a tough hockey girl, well I was a karate champion. I wasn't able to talk to anybody about my fear until I've overcome it. But I really wanted to fix it up and didn't know much where to begin, where to find a caring dentist etc.

I was looking for information, tips, dentist recommendations, but I wanted to "stay safe" (= anonymous) so Internet was my choice. Maybe writing an address of this website would help. It would allow her to find out that she is not alone, read some success stories, usefull information and slowly start the thinking and transormation process. Even if she just looks around and doesn't post it can make a big difference. I would write there that you won't never bring up the subject again.

Give her some time, don't expect that she will change immediately.
Wishing you all the best  :XXLhug:
 
brit

brit

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Mar 23, 2006
Messages
6,807
Location
In My Dental Happy Place
vict4ia said:
I think it's great that you want to help your friend but, since you asked, I think maybe the biggest mistake was in not having the conversation one-on-one. Many of us dental phobics are rather embarrassed by our fears. I think LetsConnect's illustration with the rats is excellent and can help you to get an idea of what the fear feels like. ..... As angry as she is, you've given you friend something to think about. That's as much as you can do.

Hi Kitty
I really do feel for you :XXLhug: because I've tried to help a less severely affected friend with this problem too as I may have mentioned in an earlier post. I think vict4ia is right that the main mistake was not to discuss the issue 'one on one', as with any private problem really.

I still think long-term you need to find out what exactly caused the fear so she can realise she can be protected from this happening again in future but for now as the others have said you have to apologise and try to restore normal relations. Any apology should definitely be 'one on one'.

I don't necessarily agree with the others that you can never mention it again (but I've never avoided dental care so my advice is maybe not so valid) ....I think you can occasionally keep chipping away at it.....but by doing so you have to realise you risk the friendship...she may start avoiding you......I'm fairly sure my friend didn't always read emails I sent her on the subject although I found she was interested up to a point in hearing positive accounts of others' visits.

As Letsconnect says I would share the details of the dentist but maybe at a later date......'this is just in case the pain ever gets so bad that you feel you have to do something about it, this guy would be able to help you - he can even do 'sleep stuff'. The other problem is, if she is an 'abuse survivor' she may have a preference for a female dentist rather than a male. Also are finances a major stumbling block at all?

So to summarise...apologise, restore normal relations and bide your time...see where things go....thanks for trying :grouphug:.
 
liberated

liberated

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 7, 2007
Messages
141
Location
Czech Republic
Brit said:
I don't necessarily agree with the others that you can never mention it again (but I've never avoided dental care so my advice is maybe not so valid) ....I think you can occasionally keep chipping away at it.....but by doing so you have to realise you risk the friendship...she may start avoiding you......

I'm pretty sure she would start avoiding you. I can remember how I hated when my mother mentioned the topic. I had some staining on a front veneer and she thought it was a cavity and wanted me to have it checked. That was happening sometimes when she was close enough to see the stain. The result was that I was carefull not to get too close to her and if she weren't my mother I would probably avoid her completely.

There's a difference. My mother being scared herself and wanting me to see my old dentist just wasn't a person to help me through it. But let's face it, even if she would have been I wouldn't probably let her, because I wanted to do it my way with another dentist and without anyone else being involved.

And yes, now we could swap and I could be the one telling my mum to have her teeth checked. But unfortunately it seems like there is nothing I can do to help her to change her attitude now. She doesn't have any pain and cavities at the moment. But she has a tartar buildup which doesn't bother her dentist at all and she is waiting for her remaining teeth to fall out, because this stupid (excuse me), but NHS dentist told her that there is nothing that can be done to prevent or treat periodontal disease! I have told her what can be done, I've offered to take her to my dentist, but she doesn't want.

So I know how you may feel right now, but as one proverb say: "You can take a horse to the river, but you can't make him drink."
 
brit

brit

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Mar 23, 2006
Messages
6,807
Location
In My Dental Happy Place
Liberated said:
But she has a tartar buildup which doesn't bother her dentist at all and she is waiting for her remaining teeth to fall out, because this stupid (excuse me), but NHS dentist told her that there is nothing that can be done to prevent or treat periodontal disease! I have told her what can be done, I've offered to take her to my dentist, but she doesn't want.
So I know how you may feel right now, but as one proverb say: "You can take a horse to the river, but you can't make him drink."

Liberated...I'm sure you are right about this and I can't think of the opposite proverb right now :p.
Just wanted to clarify when you say NHS dentist , do you mean one in the UK? I just want to clarify that as I thought you were based elsewhere.
 
letsconnect

letsconnect

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 1, 2005
Messages
5,732
Brit said:
I think you can occasionally keep chipping away at it.....but by doing so you have to realise you risk the friendship...she may start avoiding you......

I agree with Liberated - she *will* start avoiding you. Well, at least I would have done... it's no fun feeling cornered and panicky. Sometimes, you can't even lead the horse to the water... (unless of course it's a miniature horse, and you're physically stronger than it). Besides, dentistry is elective, but drinking isn't...

Enough about horses though :p!
 
Top