• Dental Phobia Support

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Horrible teeth - I hate myself



Junior member
Jun 13, 2017
Hi all, I'm new and thought I'd share my story here in hopes of getting some support and advice.

My teeth: Very very bad. I actually haven't looked at them in over five years. Running my tongue over them, I can feel at least 12 or 13 cavities and there's no telling how many more there are. Some of these cavities are worse than others; the one I'm most self-conscious about is right next to my front left tooth. This tooth has completely rotted away on one side. But that's just one tooth out of many that are ruined.

For most of my life, I never had good dental hygiene habits. For the past seven or so years, my dental neglect has mostly been due to depression, fear, and laziness. It makes me feel so worthless knowing that most of my dental problems could have been prevented had I just taken care of my teeth.

My dental phobia does not actually stem from a dentist but rather an orthodontist. I had braces for three years as a young teen and my orthodontist and his staff never treated me well. They loved to berate me for my poor hygiene and overall scold me, which still haunts me to this day. There was one particular incident when my orthodontist almost gleefully pointed out a spot on my tooth that he said may become a cavity one day, to my mother. My mother went through the roof and on the way home from that appointment, berated me badly and threatened to just have my braces removed.

Speaking of my mother, I have to be honest and admit that I'm more afraid of her reaction than any dentist's. I am currently unemployed and living with my parents, also on my mom's insurance which I'm not sure even covers dental work. My mom and I have a better relationship than we did during the braces teen days, but my biggest fear is telling her about my terrible teeth. She has always had very bad, angry and disappointed reactions to any dental problems I've had. My last dental visit was in 2009. I had my braces removed a year before and the dentist's diagnosis at this time was that I needed five fillings. She once again blew a gasket which made me feel utterly horrible. I ended up having three of the five fillings done but never went to my next appointment. After that, she never really mentioned my teeth again nor attempted to get me to go to a dentist, and hasn't since. It's just a subject that never comes up. She has no idea how bad they are.

I feel such a tremendous amount of guilt over this for many reasons. My mom, who also has a fear of dentists/dental work, had poor teeth herself and had to get dentures at quite a young age. (I would estimate that she hasn't seen a dentist in over twenty years). When I had braces and she would get angry at me for not taking care of my teeth the way I should have been doing, she would say that all she wanted was for me to have nice pretty teeth. She paid $5000 dollars for me to have braces which gave me straight teeth, but then I proceeded to ruin that with my neglect. I feel like the money spent on braces was a waste because my teeth, while straight, are so rotten that I'll probably have to have several of them pulled. That makes me feel horrible beyond belief :(

I have been lucky that despite having so many cavities and broken teeth, I haven't experienced a whole lot of pain like you might think. There have been a few toothaches that were unbearable, but I was able to treat them with OTC pain relievers. However, recently I started to worry about the possibility of an infection and abcess. With how bad my teeth are, I figure it's only a matter of time before it happens to me. I could deal with having ugly hideous teeth on its own, but the prospect of pain is what really unnerves me and makes me want to do something sooner rather than later so I could possibly prevent it.

I just don't know what to do about this situation. I can't afford dental work and if I told my mother about the issue, she would insist on paying for it, which would make me feel worse than having awful teeth does. I also don't know that she wouldn't get angry again like she did in the past. My biggest fear, bigger than any dental appointment, is her reaction. My mom already does so much for me that I feel I don't deserve and her paying thousands for my dental work would only increase that by a thousand. I have contemplated making an exam appointment and going without telling her but I'm afraid of what they're going to tell me, and also afraid of the costs. If I could somehow manage to sneak around and have dental work done without anyone knowing, that would be great, but money is an issue. I suppose I could talk to my dentist about payment plans but that's just another obstacle in this terrible journey.

The amount of self-hatred and guilt my teeth have caused me is too much to bear. There are times that I contemplate suicide because I feel that would be better than having to face any of these fears or go through any of it. I hate myself so much for letting it get to this point and I know at least some of this could have prevented. I feel like I don't even deserve to get help for my teeth because this is all my fault. I see people on here often saying that our teeth aren't as bad as we think they are, but I'm pretty sure that mine are actually worse. There is no telling what damage has been done, I've tried to keep myself in the dark about it for as long as possible.

Thank you to anyone who has taken the time to read all of this. I know it's long but this is the only place that I feel safe expressing my fears.
Welcome to the forum!

You're definitely not alone, and your teeth are probably not the worst out of everyone here. When I first posted here a few years ago, my teeth looked like someone had blindly taken a sledgehammer to a row of ancient tombstones, no joke. They were the single biggest misery in my life. I would lie awake at night, feeling them with my tongue, wishing they were nice and straight and healthy. It was like a black cloud hanging over me at all times. I didn't go outside, I covered my mouth when I smiled, it was an ever-present burden. I also never looked at them in the mirror - just catching a wayward glimpse made me feel cold and panicky.

It sounds like there's other stuff compounding the issue for you (this is often the case for people here). Your mom may have wanted you to avoid her fate, but she didn't really go about it the right way, and getting angry at someone is a surefire way to make them feel worse about something. And it's a natural human response to want to avoid thinking about sources of unhappiness and guilt.

Please stop beating yourself up. You do deserve dental treatment, you deserve whatever treatment it will take to get you to a happier place in life. You're not a worthless person because of your teeth. The orthodontist that made you feel ashamed - they are a crappy orthodontist. Most healthcare practitioners are compassionate.

As for talking to a dentist about payment plans, you can probably contact dentists via email or phone to ask them if that's something they offer. It's maybe a scary prospect, but you're just scouting out your options, not committing to anything.

As for your mom - is there anyone else in your life you can talk to about this? A relative, family friend? They may be able to help you talk to your mom and be on your side. Possibly even a family counselor - you deserve to have someone to talk to about this, especially if you're having suicidal thoughts over it.

You don't deserve to suffer or be berated for this. And if you're feeling suicidal, do reach out to someone, anyone. There is always a way through. The journey is never easy, but always worth it in the end.

Hang in there. You're in good company here. :hug4:
I am so sorry you are going through this. I would recommend you tell your mom. She probably knows but for some reason doesn't want to deal with it. My mom is very similar so I know how terrifying this sounds. I'd say just tell her and expect her to blow a gasket. It won't be fun but it won't kill you.

This is her fault. It's not yours. Pleased don't blame yourself.

She might be willing to help. Otherwise we can look into other options and get you fixed up. :)
I'm so sorry to hear about your experience. I'd love to hear an update of you still use this site. I myself am going through a similar issue. I had a bad experience with my dentist and ever since, I've been terrified to go back. Both of my parents had issues with their teeth at young ages. By like their early 20's Their teeth had completely rotted and started breaking. Eventually they both got dentures. It turns out, these issues run in the family. The enamel on our teeth scrubs off like nothing and they just get worse and worse. And for me poor oral hygiene also took it's toll. Since I was about 14/15, I started drinking nothing but Wawa Iced Tea(Which is kind of NJ and Philly's 24hr gas and market) and soda (Pepsi, to be exact). I noticed I started getting some pretty bad cavities so I went to the dentist to get fillings done. The dentist I'd went to told me I had, I believe, about 14 cavities all together, and that he'd probably be able to get them all done in 2 or 3 visits. I figured that was awesome because the alternative was a place called complete care, who'll literally do 1 filling per vist which is ridiculous. So I went back and during the first round I noticed the numbing wasn't working as it should. I could still feel way too much sensitivity. Even thinking back as I write this I'm cringing remembering how horrible it was, because it was literally so bad he stopped at least 3 times to keep trying to numb me more. So after that I was skeptical about going back but had to of I wanted my teeth fixed. So I did and both of the visits afterwards were just as bad.
Now, fast forward to about a year and a half later and one by one, every last filling he'd done started to fall out and/or rot away. And for me, watching my teeth get that bad in such a short amount of time was the scariest thing ever and made me hate myself. Because not only was I watching this happen, but I let it keep happening because at that point I was so traumatized by my last experience out didn't seem worth the pain.
Now I'm 21 years old with very messed up teeth, and so far 4 have been pulled. I finally did decide to see a dentist again but she's made it very clear she'll do what she can for me but doesn't think I'll be able to save many, if any at all.....
For some reason, I've always had very low self esteem. If it wasn't my smile, it was my hair, if it wasn't my hair, it was my skin, if it wasn't my skin, it was my body.... smh now I've come to the point to where Im so depressed and self-loathing I don't want to work, socialize, or even go to the store because I feel just talking the the cashier, she can see my teeth and thinks I'm disgusting. Even at home, where I still live with my dad and his parents, I dont like to talk or leave my room because I feel everybody's disgusted and disappointed in me.
Sorry about the long post... I know most of you won't see it anyways..... but I just needed to get some of that out....

hi and welcome here on the forum. Sorry to hear about what you are going through right now and thank you for sharing your story with us. Rest assured that this community is here for you and that your posts get read. I can only encourage you to ask for support (which you in this way did) and to use this forum. It's a great place to start to process some of the heavy feelings you are going through. You are not alone. I'm sure you took a look around already and have seen that there are many members who are or have been in a similar situation.

she's made it very clear she'll do what she can for me but doesn't think I'll be able to save many, if any at all.....

This sounds a bit vague to me and also not really kind or supportive. And it doesn't sound like you would get included into the treatment much, but I might be wrong. Did you feel comfortable with this dentist?

You deserve a kind and caring dentist who is treats you and not just your teeth and who is willing to help you with your fear and support you on your way. Someone, who is commited to make you feel comfortable during your visits. Someone who explains you what is going on in your mouth and gives you options (and you always have options. Always.) Someone who treats you as an equal and someone who is absolutely commited to make your treatment painless no matter what. There are dentists like this out there.

By the way, I can only recommend you the journal section here on the forum. It's a great way to sort your thoughts and get out the scary thought. And please never worry about the length of a post, it's a friendly open place here and you are welcome to wirte as much as you like.

All the best wishes for you, let us know how you are doing.