• Dental Phobia Support

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

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Hit the panic button and there's still a week to go

*polishes lightsaber*

…oh no, wait, that's rude isn't it?


Glad you're doing a bit better! Have a lovely Christmas!
Hey everyone, just stopping by to wish you all a very Happy New Year now that I am back in the land of web connections.

I hope everyone had a good break over Christmas, I managed to have a good time despite occasional lack of sleep due to worries about the impending dental appointment in a couple of weeks time.

One thing I would like to share with you all is what a difference it has made getting my front teeth sorted out! There were cameras everywhere at the NY party I attended but for a change I didn't run and hide from them, instead I felt confident enough to smile properly for a change and as a result I actually look like I was having fun in the pictures. So for anyone contemplating the first step it is worth it, this time last year I was busy de-tagging myself from pictures on FB as I was so ashamed of how I looked whereas this year I've just laughed at how frizzy my hair looks.

I've still got the back teeth to get cleaned up yet and I am incredibly nervous about that but it should be a bit easier than the first appointment as I feel a little bit more confident now in both myself and the skills of the Dentist than I did 6 months ago. I'm sure that will all evaporate the minute I set foot in the treatment room though!
OK so I survived another round of cleaning - just.

This time round it was the back teeth that were cleaned and it was every bit as tough as I thought it would be.

I arrived far too early (40 minutes too early) so I walked about the block for a bit but eventually had to give that up as it was way too cold and I was starting to badly need the bathroom (the combined effect of cold weather and an ageing bladder) so I went in with 20 mins to go to my appointment time. I had just got myself settled for the wait when the dental nurse came through to get me, we exchanged pleasantries about the Christmas break etc and I got prepped.

It was ok at first but then at one point the chair went back without warning, my anxiety levels went through the ceiling and I started shaking pretty badly, the Dentist was very reassuring which helped but it was a struggle to hold off the feeling of panic.

The initial cleaning was ok, no pain at and I wasn't as anxious as I have been before about the fact I was lying quite far back and that my personal space was being invaded. Then the scraper came out and as expected I didn't get on too well with it. I didn't feel any pain but the sound of metal on my teeth brought back horrible memories of the attack, thankfully it wasn't used for long so I didn't go into full on meltdown mode.

I have to go back over the course of 3 appointments for the rest of the cleaning which I am actually ok with as they will be shorter appointments and that is a relief as I don't think I could cope lying that far back for longer than I did.

The really good news is there's been no problems since I was last there and I can already feel and see the difference in the teeth that were worked on today - I now need to make sure they stay clean and get the rest done.

Totally shattered now, it really took a lot out of me today - more so than when I had a filling done which seems bizarre as I thought I was getting a good bit better at this.
Hooray! You're doing so well! x

Then the scraper came out and as expected I didn't get on too well with it. I didn't feel any pain but the sound of metal on my teeth brought back horrible memories of the attack

Just a thought about this - there are two ways they can clean your teeth. One is with hand tools, which is the scraper you refer to here, and it can give the feel/sound of metal on your teeth. The other thing is an ultrasonic scaler - many phobic patients don't like it, as it can be quite intense and makes a similar high-pitched noise to the drill, but it doesn't give that sensation of metal scraping your teeth. They tend to end up using a bit of both. I get the impression that a lot of the time it could go either way though, and it's down to personal preference (of the patient and the dentist/hygienist).

Maybe you could have a chat with your dentist next time and ask him to try and use the ultrasonic scaler as much as possible, see how you get on with it? I was just thinking that you might find it a bit less triggery.
Thanks, I don't know if they have an ultrasonic scaler. They used a water jet for most of it and then the dreaded scraper came out to get the bits in between the teeth so it wasn't used for long but it was pretty nasty.

On reflection I do think I did better than I initially gave myself credit for though and at the end of the day I have more clean teeth today than I did yesterday!
Anyone else ever had problems communicating with the Dentist that were so bad you find it impossible to even ask for a drink of water?

I've noticed that it's an ongoing issue for me - to the point where I have just pinged an email to my Dentist to admit I'm struggling which in itself took a mammoth effort as I didn't want to say anything but I realise it won't get any better unless I do.

I wondered if anyone else had gone through this and if so what kind of things helped you?
I always get nervous going to the dentist. I like my current dentist and her assistant. For me it is not the fear of seeing this dentist. I don't like being judge, I still think my teeth are the worst she has seen, even though I had some work done on them. I prefer to treat any problems I get as soon as possible.

I just don't like someone having to look in my mouth, too close contact, dread to think what I be like if I had a girlfriend.
Thanks, I don't know if they have an ultrasonic scaler. They used a water jet for most of it and then the dreaded scraper came out to get the bits in between the teeth so it wasn't used for long but it was pretty nasty.

Going back a couple of posts but just a wee aside on this: the ultrasonic scaler does have a water spray so it's possible that's the water jet you are referring to and he's already using it for as much of it as he can - something to ask him about!

Re communication we've already been exchanging a few ideas but I'd be curious to see what others have found that works for them!
Ahhhhh I think it is the ultrasonic scaler then, I didn't know what it was called but it was described as a water jet. To be fair the horrible scraper was only used for a really short time to get to the bits in between the teeth so it wasn't like endless torture or anything.

Re the communication issue - it would be good to hear from anyone else that has had the same problem and how they coped with it, I can't be the only one to struggle with speaking up. Crowdsourcing can be pretty useful for generating ideas and I'm pretty much willing to try anything - it might work it might not but I won't know unless I try.
Ok so am trying not to panic as it has only been 1 full working day since I sent an email in asking for a chat with the Dentist about using an alternative stop signal but anxiety head is in full flow right now and driving me round the bend.

My sensible head says, "Well they may not have been in and therefore not read it yet, people do take days off work sometimes you know" but anxiety head says, "They have no idea how to begin to reply to something so dumb, you should never have sent it."

I'm flitting constantly between thinking "it will be fine, they will have had this come up before and it won't be such a big deal" and "you've screwed up big time"

Urgghhhh!!! I hate this!
You haven't screwed up, not at all. Emailing to ask for a chat about your stop signals is sensible. It's just the anxiety talking, though you knew that already. You'll be okay :)
Thanks Sevena, I did get a reply today and have made an appointment for a chat before the next cleaning.

The big obstacle now is how to make sense of things and not end up babbling nonsensical pish at the chat appointment. I just don't know how to put into words what is actually going on. I tried to explain it to my other half but he just looked at me like I had been speaking in tongues and said he hadn't a clue what I was getting at and couldn't understand why I couldn't just say, "can I have a sip of water please." Arghhhhhhhh if only it were that easy!

It didn't help matters that I made a total mess of making the appointment. That was in part because I wasn't clear about what I was trying to do and I was also having a three-way conversation with the receptionist and my boss who had come into my office during the call which caused no end of confusion to both parties as I answered the others questions, it reminded me a bit of a "Two Ronnies" sketch (UK residents of a certain age will know what I am talking about). I tried to put the phone on mute in order to tell my boss to leave the room but I couldn't for the life of me find the mute button until after I had hung up.

After making such a mess of something as simple as making an appointment I started to wish I had just kept my stupid trap shut but then I realised that inaction would get me nowhere. I really want to make this better and I know I have to try my hardest to make it work and I may not always get it right every time but that's not the end of the world (it just feels like it is).

In non-dental news my day got better when I found out that one of my photographs is being used on the poster for an upcoming exhibition (go me - I am "poster-girl").
Well done for making that appointment. :) Good for you for trying to work at it and make it better for you. Maybe it would help if you put your thoughts into writing and bring it to the appointment just in case you start "babbling nonsensical pish"?

For what it's worth, I sometimes struggle to ask for things i.e. a glass of water, and I've built up a pretty good relationship with my dentist/staff and I KNOW they wouldn't mind at all. I think it's just me not wanting to be a bother - not just a dentist thing, happens in life too. I've found that it's easier for me to ask for things like that when my dentist/assistant check in on me, so I'm not feeling like I'm initiating it and being a bother. Maybe you can ask that they check in on your at certain intervals or something like that? I don't know.

And yay you for being a poster girl! :)
Thanks Littlething, you've put that into perspective for me - I focused so much on how much of an idiot I felt about messing up the phone call that I failed to realise that I managed to phone up and make an appointment straight after getting the email from the Dentist. Compare that to 6 months ago when I spent the best part of a day picking up and putting down the receiver or half dialling the number and giving up and I realise that I really have made quite a bit of progress.

I have the exact same problem as you - I don't feel entitled to ask for something and, like you, I have the problem everywhere - not just when at the Dentist. I keep thinking to myself that I will ask the next time there is a pause but then when the appropriate moment comes I chicken out. I left the last appointment with a mouth like a desert all because I couldn't bring myself to ask for a sip of water.

The "freezing" problem is a harder one to explain, I know why it's happening but I'm not sure how to go about explaining that to the Dentist or how to get around it as my brain is convinced that it's the best thing to do and I can't seem to re-wire that thinking.

At least I have got myself to a place where I have been able to bring up the fact that I have a problem and I really do want to work it out.
Well we had a chat about things yesterday, it went ok (I think) the Dentist was surprised to hear I was having problems with freezing up so it sounds like I've been doing an awfully good job of pretending to be fine which is not a good thing.

Unfortunately I left my carefully crafted notes at home and my mind went completely blank when I got in which made for a very difficult start to the conversation as I lost my train of thought entirely. I did manage to ask for longer breaks with time enough to sit up to enable me to catch my breath better. I think that will help as there is less chance of me dissociating if I get a bit of a longer break to reaquaint myself with my surroundings (although I, of course, forgot to mention that yesterday).

I've got my next cleaning session coming up very soon so we will see how it goes although I am feeling positive about it. Hopefully given the fact that I will get a moment to sit up I will be more likely to find my voice once more.
Good news!

Things were much better today, looks like flagging up the issue and having a chat about it helped a great deal.

The longer breaks worked really well for me. Instead of taking a break for a couple of seconds and asking if I was ok to continue the Dentist backed right off and didn't continue until I said I was ready. This was much better as I didn't feel under pressure to say, "yes, carry on" like I usually do nor did I feel crowded or smothered so my breathing was easier to keep under control.

I also found it much easier to speak up, at the end of the cleaning session the Dentist offered me some samples of inter-dental brushes and I managed to explain that I had tried them before but found the feeling and sound of metal on my teeth really off putting. They offered to find me a plastic alternative which is lovely. Previously I would have taken the samples and scuttled off without saying a word so that was good progress today.

I was still a bit shaky during the cleaning but being able to sit up for a bit when having a break really helped - I was able to catch up with myself and realise that it was going to be ok.

So all in all after a dreadful day yesterday it was much better today.

So thank you to everyone for the encouragement, I would never have sent that email if it wasn't for all your help and despite me having doubts about what I was doing it has proved to be a worthwhile thing to do.
Well I got through the penultimate cleaning session yesterday - only one more to go and then I'm done for a while.

I was way more relaxed in the run up to the appointment than I've ever been before although I think a good bit of that was down to the fact that I'd just got back from a week of R&R in the sun with some girlfriends so I was quite chilled out.

I had a wee set back in that the normal room was having some renovation work done so the Dentist was in a different room which was way smaller than the one I'm used to. The fact that the chair faced a wall with a radiator was really off putting as the layout reminded me of the place I was attacked so it was all a bit triggery but the longer breaks were really helpful as I had time enough to go through things in my head and remind myself where I was.

Hopefully by time my next appointment comes round the renovations will be complete although I'm thinking I might drop an email a couple of days ahead just to check and if not I would like to ask if the door could be opened a wee bit - does anyone know if that would be ok to ask? I wouldn't need it left wide open, just enough to be able to peek out of so I can see that I'm not where I think I am if that makes sense.

I'm a bit worried it might sound like a daft request but at the same time I now realise if I don't say anything then the Dentist can't help me at all so it may be worth asking.

What do you guys think?
If it would make you feel more comfortable, ask! It's not daft if it's helping you. You have to realise that it's okay to want to be accommodated. And that a good dentist should accommodate you. You deserve good treatment!

I'm glad it's going better after your last chat. You've made so much progress. You're a real inspiration :)
What sevena said!

Yes, ask! I'm sure they'll be fine with that. And you totally are an inspiration :)
^ what they said :)

And you said it yourself...he can't help you if you don't say anything.