• Dental Phobia Support

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

Thank you everyone for your input, I feel reassured now. I know it might seem like something small but I'm not entirely confident at asking for things yet - I am getting there though.

I will drop the Dentist a line a few days ahead of the next appointment and ask them about it. Hopefully the works will be finished and we will be back in the usual room which has a lovely big window in it. If not I think having the door open a wee bit would help me feel more comfortable in the smaller room, I wasn't sure about asking in case they prefer to have the door shut to prevent distractions or something. It's not like I would disturb anyone in the waiting room though as I'm not a screamer (not at the Dentist anyway :giggle: )
Have you ever been to a dental hospital? Sometimes they work at stations - big rooms where there's nothing dividing each chair except low walls. If dentists can get through that without being distracted, they can handle a door being open :p

As a side note, those rooms with the stations are horrendous to walk through if you're phobic. Hearing five drills going at once? Shudder!

It's okay if you don't feel confident asking for stuff. We're here to reassure you whenever you want. :)
Thank you Sevena, I've never been in a Dental Hospital before so I didn't know that. Sounds pretty hair raising!

Thanks for the feedback too, it's really helpful to get other people's perspective on things - there's so many times I think, "I don't know if this is ok or not" so it's been really helpful to have input from you all, I do appreciate it.
Well the last of my cleaning sessions is almost here and until now I have been fairly calm about it but I'm starting to feel like a bag of nerves now but this is good as each time I get that bit closer before feeling nervous.

The big difference this time round is that I am not trying to fight it or beat myself up for feeling nervous, I am just going to acknowledge the nerves and go with it.

I think that, finally, all the good advice is sinking in and I am realising that it is ok to be like this - after all I picked a Dentist that specialises in dealing with nervous patients so they are hardly expecting me to turn up and jump straight in the chair like everything is fine.

The one thing I did miss in the bliss of not being nervous until now is that I forgot to ask if the rennovations to the usual room are done yet, I guess it's too late to ask now so I will just have to wait and see when I get there and if they are still using the small room I will ask for the door to be opened a wee bit.

Can't believe how much progress I've made - this time last year I was terrified by the idea of trying to even speak to a Dentist and now, a year on, I've nearly completed an entire round of treatment. I've got one more cleaning appointment to go and then as long as I can keep on top of things I should only need a quick cleaning session in 6 months time.

So fingers crossed for this last appointment - hopefully back in the usual room (but if not it's not the end of the world nor is it a bad thing to admit that it sets off my claustrophobia).

Thanks to everyone here for listening to me and providing advice - it has made a HUGE difference to know there are other people who understand what it's like and have got through it too. I genuinely couldn't have got this far without your input so a big :thankyou: to everyone
Well it's uplifting for everyone else to see someone progress so much. :) and don't forget to credit yourself either. You did this. You're the one who worked so hard to get this far.

I hope your cleaning goes well! :hug4:
Yes, it is really amazing to see the progress you've made - well done! And Sevena is right, definitely give yourself some credit.

Good luck with your cleaning! I have one coming up on Friday, and while I'm not freaking out about it, I'm my exactly looking forward to it either. Meh.
Thank you Sevena & Littlething, that was really good of you to say that. Hope all goes well for you on Friday Littlething.

The appointment went well in the end, and I have my check up appointment booked for September which I WILL be attending!

I had a minor panic when I first arrived as the Receptionist couldn't find my booking at first and then told me that I was booked in for a hygienist apointment rather than the Dentist so I got myself really worked up despite the fact the Receptionist told me it was booked with the Dentist after all, she had just read the screen wrong and everything was ok. The panic came about because it had been at an appointment with the hygienist that it all went horribly wrong 20 years ago so I got myself all tied in knots over a silly misunderstanding.

I then began to worry that I would end up getting myself so stressed out that I would have another major panic attack and everything would end up going tits up again. I was convinced that I would do something to muck up all my progress and I couldn't get the idea out of my head despite the fact I knew it was the anxiety clouding my judgement.

When the Dental Assistant came to collect me I could barely speak but the Dentist chatted away to me and I started to relax a bit and managed to find my voice again. I found the longer breaks really helpful again - the fact that the Dentist no longer asks me if I am ready to continue but waits for me to get to a point where I say I am ok to carry on has been a massive success, I no longer feel under pressure to say I'm ok when I'm not. It also helped that the Dentist kept chatting during the breaks - that kept me calm and at one point we were all laughing about something they said - it's been a very long time since I laughed in a Dental Surgery!

Overall I'm really pleased that I've got my teeth cleaned up and the fact that I've been able to do it has given me the confidence to address some of the other issues I've struggled with like anxiety and low self esteem. There's still a long way to go but success I've had in overcoming the Dental phobia is giving me a better sense of belief in my abilities and the hope-filled days are beginning to outnumber the bleak days.

Thanks to everyone for the advice and support and to all those with inspiring success stories that I have read on here - it really does help to get advice from people that understand what it's like.
Ah, that first laugh! I remember mine too, and I remember thinking "oh my god, I'm laughing while in the dentist chair, like a real functional human being!" It's a good feeling.

I wish you luck tackling your other issues. Yeah, there will be up days and down days, and that never changes, but when the up days start to outnumber the down days, that's when you know you're in a better place again. And when you have tools to manage the down days so they don't feel so hopeless any more, that helps. One small upside to having long term anxiety issues is the gratitude you have for seemingly small things. Like laughing in the dentist chair.

I used to have agoraphobia and didn't leave the house for two years. And last summer I went to the beach and took my shoes off to go paddling in the sea. It was a lovely day on a lovely little Scottish beach, really sunny and warm and beautiful. And I remember looking down at my feet and seeing the little waves and thinking, "I'm actually outside. On the beach. That's the *sea* touching my feet!" Because in my darkest days I'd thought that freedom like that might forever be beyond me. So while everyone on that beach was happy, *I* was absolutely elated, just to be there, and just to know how far I'd come.

Yeah I'm rambling on a bit, but maybe this makes sense? I don't know. But I'm glad you're cleaning went okay and that you're feeling hopeful and positive :)
Yay! Glad to hear it went well. Know what you mean about the laughing...my dentist somehow got me to laugh at my first appointment, and that's when I knew everything would be okay. But there was a moment at one of my later appointments that had me and his assistant cracking up hysterically at something he said for a good minute or two and I thought, "hey! I'm at the dentist AND I'M ACTUALLY KIND OF ENJOYING MYSELF." It was a nice feeling.

Good luck with everything :)
Thanks Sevena & Littlething

There's still a lot to be done but at least having the success of getting through a round of cleaning has given me a bit of a spring board to try to tackle other areas - almost like, "if I can do this then I can do anything."

Sevena - I too suffered from agoraphobia a number of years ago and I remember how incredibly proud I felt when I went out to the shops to get a newspaper, it was a major milestone for me so I understand how amazing you would have felt to be standing on a beach - well done you!
Hey all,

So it's been a good while but my hand is once again hovering over that panic button although this time I have got until there are 2 days to go so that IS an improvement on previous appointments albeit I am panicking about a check up rather than treatment.

Admittedly my brain has run away with itself once more and this is what it has come up with:

Despite my best efforts (and I really have made a monumental effort over the last few months to maintain things) they are going to tell me that my teeth are in a bad way and I will feel like I have failed :cry:

Best case scenario - they tell me I need a cleaning done but they suggest I go to the hygienist instead and that will go horribly wrong (it did once before, in a very dramatic way too). The problem with this is that I am likely to "go with the flow" and then regret it and make a muck up of trying to extricate myself.

Added to all that is the problem that I would actually like to have some other fillings renovated with new white ones but I am very scared that as I don't have the same impetus as I did to get the other tooth fixed (which was to make good on a long overdue promise) I will struggle to do it as if they say, "all is well" I will just meekly scuttle off for another 6 months and miss a window of opportunity to fix things.

The upshot is that although I have made some progress with the issues I have around this phobia I am still struggling with asking for what I want and unable to overcome the feeling of being under pressure to do what other people expect of me.

I am also very anxious that if I enquire even tentatively about getting other teeth fixed up they will tell me that they are beyond repair/not worth the effort and I would be devastated. I am not daft - I know I can't get a "Hollywood" smile but I would like to think there are some wee jobs that could be done to improve things. For some reason though my brain is telling me they will laugh at me should I suggest doing more work (this is completely unfounded as they have never laughed at me but as I said my brain is working overtime!)

Urgghhhh I don't half make it difficult for myself!
Hello :waves:

Have replied at length elsewhere, so will leave this for others to chip in, but just so say it's nice to see you around again :)

Tink x
Thank you x Hope everyone else is well, not been around as much lately as I found that I rather enjoyed not having to think/worry about dental work for a wee spell there.

The check up went well in the end, despite me feeling sick with nerves from about 30 minutes beforehand.

The Dentist clearly remembered all the problems I have as before I sat down they assured me that the chair wouldn't move while I was sitting in it and they said they would check out each quadrant separately with a break in between so that was good. Admittedly I still struggled with having someone invading my personal space when in a vulnerable position but they were reassuring throughout and I was calmer than I have been in the past.

It seems my hard work paid off after all too, the Dentist was surprised by how good my teeth were looking and said that there was no need for any work to be done right now. They suggested I return in 3 months time for another check rather than 6 months so I have another appointment in December.

On the downside I completely failed to ask anything about changing out old silver fillings for white ones and I felt like I had let myself down however on reflection I think I was trying to run before I can walk (again).

It only struck me afterwards, when I recalled that during the check up they started rattling off numbers and instructions to the dental nurse (they have never done this before), that actually I am still at the start of a very long process and there is much more still to do.

At first this disappointed me but then it dawned on me that I can't expect overnight progress and that I now have to take a leap of faith and trust that the dentist has a plan and I should put my trust in their plan rather than try to force things. Not an easy task for me - as a self-confessed control freak this is a real challenge for me but I realise that I have to accept that they know better on this one (they certainly have more experience in dealing with patients like me) and I should take their advice - here's hoping it works in the long run!
On the downside I completely failed to ask anything about changing out old silver fillings for white ones and I felt like I had let myself down however on reflection I think I was trying to run before I can walk (again).

It only struck me afterwards, when I recalled that during the check up they started rattling off numbers and instructions to the dental nurse (they have never done this before), that actually I am still at the start of a very long process and there is much more still to do.

Yep, this!

It's all a process, and there will be ups and downs and forwardses and backwardses along the way....

(I feel like the forum wizened old crone here...;D "I remember when this was all fields" *waves arm vaguely*)

You are doing amazingly well - and totally on the right track! It's not just your dentist you need to trust, it's yourself too! :XXLhug:
Yep, this!

(I feel like the forum wizened old crone here...;D "I remember when this was all fields" *waves arm vaguely*)

Hehe, maybe more like the bodhisattva of the forum than an old crone!

You are doing amazingly well - and totally on the right track! It's not just your dentist you need to trust, it's yourself too! :XXLhug:

Thank you, it is easy to forget that not long ago I hadn't even set foot in a practice for 20+ years so I can't expect to go from that to feeling ok so quickly so I need to "go with the flow" and take on the upses and downses as they come.

Here's something that will amuse you all though after a completely dental free hiatus I went to my book group the other night and our next book is "To rise again at a decent hour" by Joshua Ferris which is all about a New York DENTIST not sure if :o or :) it is meant to be very funny though.
Hehe, maybe more like the bodhisattva of the forum than an old crone!

LOL, had to google that to see if it was a compliment :redface::grin:

You are very kind, but I think my illusion of serene enlightenment might wobble a bit when I'm having a minor panic at the receptionist because there was a mistake on the bill (that happened, um, yesterday...)
Hello fellow forumites, just stopping by for a wee observation I thought I would share with you all following my recent appointment.

I had a cleaning appointment very recently and I was all chuffed with myself beforehand as I was feeling quite calm despite a wee problem with bleeding gums which I was planning to speak to the Dentist about when I got to the appointment - get me I was being all "brave and bold" but then on the day of my appointment something completely non-Dentist related happened that de-railed me and left me feeling a bit on edge.

I realised that this feeling of anxiety was likely to kybosh my feelings of bravado at the appointment; after a bit of thought (more like an hour of anxious pacing) I decided to email the Dentist in advance to let them know I had been experiencing some bleeding from my gums. As soon as I was overcome with the usual anxious thoughts of 'X will see this and think, "Oh FFS what does she want now"' etc however the reality was very different, I got a reply saying simply "thanks" which my anxious brain obviously twisted every which way but when I arrived the Dentist said it had been really useful to get the email - that's right USEFUL!

As a result of my email the Dentist changed the plan for the appointment in order to address my concerns and managed to reassure me that all was well despite the bleeding - which was a massive relief given I'd woken up 3 times the night before following nightmares during which my teeth fell out.

So the point of my relating this, because there was a point to this - stick with me for I shall get there, is that if you feel worried/anxious about something and find it difficult to communicate or think you will clam up as I often do then perhaps an email is not a bad idea, particularly if it means you can get your point across quickly and simply.

I'm due back in a few weeks and I have to say I feel that wee bit more relieved about it now - only a wee bit mind but I am getting there!


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Feeling rather stupid tonight, I somehow managed to have a nightmare of an appointment today and the irony is NOTHING was done!

I went for another cleaning session, got all psyched up and ready only to find out the Dentist couldn't do anything as the jet thingummy (not going to pretend to know the proper term for it) was broken. I just about wanted to melt when they told me I would need to book again another time as although the whole "roller coaster" thing starts later the more often I have gone I still hate it and I was totally exhausted emotionally despite having done SFA which left me feeling like a proper dafty.

On reflection though there are a number of plus points to take away from this, first of all the Dentist saw me in person to apologise. It seems the aforementioned thingummy broke down late in the day so in fairness if they had tried to call it would have been rather late in the day (in fact I would have probably already set off anyways given how long my bus journey is). They were also good enough to not leave it to the reception staff to send me away when I arrived - that in itself is the mark of a decent human being and if nothing else has gone some way to making me feel valued as a person.

The other major thing is that they could have suggested that I undergo the cleaning manually using the scary instruments but they didn't and that was actually very good as I would have had a serious meltdown if they had gone near me with a metallic instrument (long story but in short anything metal would have brought on flashbacks of a very traumatic event). So again credit to them for not even going there as the other problem is that if they had suggested it I would have gone all "compliant" and agreed to it which would have been very, very bad.

Unfortunately none of it is helping me get over the fact I was just as jittery when I left as I would have been after having treatment and I've got it all to do again!
Hey folks it’s a hang out the bunting moment for me today.

I had a cleaning appointment yesterday which looked like being a disaster as I first of all noticed that the bus timetables have recently changed so my usual travel plans were put out a good bit and the new plan was cutting it fine for arriving in good time. I then managed to leave my travel card at home which was a massive disaster as I can’t afford the additional cost of a bus fare right now so I had to literally run home during my lunch break and retrieve it which left me feeling very flustered, anxious and doom-laden.


It all went ok, in fact better than ok! I had plenty of breaks and I was in charge of how long the breaks took, didn’t feel under pressure to end the break at anytime, in fact we even had a decent conversation during one of the breaks which calmed me down a great deal - so much so that without even thinking about it I was able to ask the dental assistant to give me a glass of water in instead of the sickly sweet stuff they usually give me to rinse with (which normally makes me boak). Panic set in the moment the request was out of my mouth but you know what it was all ok too – no one made a fuss, the offending liquid was swapped out for a cup of water and nothing was said! Now I know that may seem a bit like a “so what” moment for many people but for me it was a landmark victory as normally I would NEVER, EVER do that for fear of repercussions which, admittedly, belong to the past but are very difficult to overcome as they are based on a previous experience rather than a vague feeling of anxiety.

In short I am very proud of myself today – major breakthrough, 2 years in the making but it has been achieved at last and I also feel like I deserve the high five I gave myself!
Unfortunately my latest update is nowhere near as good as my previous one :(

I made quite a mess of the of my most recent appointment and am feeling rather glum.

I had a horrible day at work which left me feeling really on edge, I also made a mess of noting the appointment in my diary - for some reason I had noted "check up" when it was actually another cleaning session.

The worst part is that at one point I felt pain and almost physically lashed out at the Dentist which made me feel really ashamed and upset. I have to say that once again they were really good and yet again I walked away feeling like a failure.

Anyway I'm trying to think of actions for next time rather than dwell on it. I have decided to switch my next appointment to a morning time and take the day off work to hopefully prevent the same situation occuring. I hadn't wanted to do this in the past as I didn't want this situation to interfere too much and didn't want to use up annual leave for something so "frivolous" On reflection I see I need to be aware of it and make allowances accordingly.

I'm wondering if anyone else here suffers from complex PTSD and has had this issue? The rage thing is relatively new for me, unusually I cower in fear or freeze up hence the experience was doubly unnerving.

I have a few other ideas that might also help and again I'm not sure how to approach asking about them - anyone ever asked their Dentist to play music? I think it might also help, I can't use headphones as it would mean I wouldn't hear them and that would put me on edge.

Also I'm open to any suggestions to creating a relaxing atmosphere if you have them please do comment here on what has worked for you, I'm very keen to avoid my next post being one about how I got arrested for assault!