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humiliated and afraid

J

JAB

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Jul 23, 2016
Messages
45
Today I heard the words "You have a cavity." I would love to know if there is any other phrase more humiliating than that. I've been in therapy for years trying to deal with the shame surrounding my teeth to no avail, and today it only got worse. Is there any way to deal with the humiliation of needing dental work, or is this just my sad lot in life?

The dentist also told me I really should do the Invisalign because of over crowding with my front teeth. He told me not doing it would cost me much more in the long run than doing it now. Of course it's "only" $257 a month. How do I know if he is telling me the truth or trying to "sell me a bill of goods." A second opinion would cost me another $200. Of course my filling is only going to be $400. I'm beginning to think I'm nothing more than another dollar bill to this guy. I just don't feel like I have any other options.
 
Sol

Sol

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Feeling embarrassed or ashamed about needing dental work is not uncommon. Try to look at it from an angle that you are addressing the issue now instead of letting it get worse. Have you ever told your dentist that you would prefer they gently break it to you when treatment is needed?

If you feel like your dentist is not being honest with you then getting a second opinion might be worth it for peace of mind. $200 seems like it would be a rather high charge to get a second opinion. If your current practice will forward over xrays, it should cost much less than that. Playing around with this site and it seems fairly accurate with estimating costs (assuming you are in the US).
https://www.healthcarebluebook.com/ui/consumerfront
 
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krlovesherkids777

krlovesherkids777

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Jab,

I totally agree with Sol. the embarassment, and shame is quite common I know I have felt it most my life.. well still do.. but I use the very thing that Sol presents knowing that even though you have a cavity now. you can do something abuot it and take care of yourself which you are doing , you can give yourself a huge credit all you are doing for your teeth, coming here to write, going to your dentist, wanting to make sure you are diong the right thing.

I know alot of orthodontists in my area give free consults . and even dentists do invisilgn consults free.. I might look around even if for that specific to see if they say the same thing. and you wouldn't have to put out the 200 and get more of a specialist opinion. might be worth a shot to check into.
 
T

thisisme

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Aug 17, 2012
Messages
312
It sounds like a trust issue with your dentist. If you are seeing a particular dentist because it’s what someone in your family wants (I know the feeling), know you have options. Google is great. Search different places. Read reviews. You can even do virtual tours on some places... If you’re feeling brave, stop in and visit one.

It’s perfectly normal to feel embarrassment and shame. I feel them about my teeth. Actually, today was the first day I “opened wide” in 16 years for someone because of this shame. However, the important thing to remember that cavities happen. They are a quite minor procedure in the scope of dental work. Nobody will think less of you because you have/had a cavity, and if they do, forget them. You don’t need that kind of negativity. You are a fantastic human being.

I can’t help with the Invisalign question, but if he said it would cost a lot more in the long run, I would be suspicious. I would hope he would be talking about the health benefits it would have on you... like easier to clean, less likely to get fillings, etc... and not the cost.

Hang in there, JAB.
 
Enarete

Enarete

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Hi JAB,

sorry to read about your feelings. I would say the cavity announcement as such is what it is, a simple statement, but in some people this can trigger some heavy feelings, depending on how you feel about yourself anyway. The most people have a cavity at one point in their lives or another and it's nothing to be ashamed of but rather a part of life. You wouldn't be embarrassed about having a flu, would you?
I wished your dentist would be a bit more gentle with this announcment and say it in a way that wouldn't make you feel ashamed.

The pressure your dentist is making on you to get Invisalign makes me skeptical as well. Overcrowding is not a life threatening issue. Teeth move slowly and in my opinion it's not that much of a difference if you get braces now or in one or two years or not at all. Another point is that you still will need to get the filling done before braces so that should be a priority. Invisalign still counts as a cosmetic treatment, unless your teeth and jaw is completely misaligned and giving you serious issues, in which case it wouldn't be just called "overcrowding". I would expect your dentist to talk to you about dental cleanings and proper home care to be sure to take care of all the spots that might be suffering due to overcrowding.
 
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Niall Neeson

Niall Neeson

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140
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Ireland
Hi JAB,

I completely agree with Enarete and love how she puts perspective on the situation.

The feelings or shame and humiliation are indeed common so know that you are not alone on that. BUT I would say to you that rather than shame you should have pride in yourself that you are actively taking control and addressing the situation and your dental health. When a cavity is required it generally is best to intervene promptly and this is one of the benefits of attending for regular checks- as you obviously have done in this instance.

Think about the number of dentists in your town/ city. The average dentists spends a reasonably high proportion of their day either treating cavities or finding them. They are so incredibly common (down to our average dietary habits) and it is very rare that someone goes through life without having numerous cavities.

On top of this, work that you’ve had done previously can mean that, even with well maintained preventive measures, problems can still arise. The defences are compromised from earlier work and it means that occasional fillings/ repairs/ restoration is essentially just part of the normal maintenance of a mouth.

I myself am a dentist and have recently required root canal treatment on a molar tooth and a crown. This stems back from getting a large filling when I was 14 from eating too many sweets and chocolate bars! Having the knowledge to know that this is part of a normal process helped me to accept this and you should know this too. We can only do so much when it comes to prevention. Some issues will still need addressing. And that’s ok!

In relation to the orthodontics, from my perspective working in Ireland/ UK, the vast majority of times orthodontic treatment is undertaken it is for cosmetic/ aesthetic purposes. It is rare that it will make a large difference to oral health/ risk. Therefore, unless there has been a good explanation to justify it, I would say it is up to you and how you feel about the appearance of your teeth. You are in control of this decision. They are your teeth. It is your mouth. You’re the boss!

You’re doing absolutely fine. Congratulations on your dental attendance and taking control of your oral health.

All the best,

Niall
 
J

JAB

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Joined
Jul 23, 2016
Messages
45
Thanks to all who have taken the time to respond. We have spent many hours trying to find a dentist in the last several years. After a ton of research, this was the best choice. He is certainly the most expensive we've ever seen, and makes even a cleaning a real financial strain. But beyond that, the office seems pretty good. But there is nothing more humiliating than a cavity. The prisons are full of child molesters, but I'm sure many of them live with shame anyhow. Needing glasses is rather typical and expected. Cavities are perceived to be the patient's fault. There is a huge difference between "sucks to be you" and "you suck." Cavities, high blood pressure, and diabetes are sure to get you humiliating lectures from the professionals. Fortunately I've been able to fight off the hypertension and diabetes, at least to this point. I just wish dentists could just see how hard I've tried to take care of my teeth, but lectures seem to be a way of life in this area. (By both doctors and dentists.) I have no shame concerning my chronic migraines because nobody considers them the patient's fault.
 
Niall Neeson

Niall Neeson

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I’m sorry to hear that it comes across as a lecture and I’m even more sorry to hear that you perceive this as humiliating.

It does not need to be this way.

Seeking further support from a psychotherapist to help adapt the emotional response to such dental occurrences may be in your best interests.
 
Enarete

Enarete

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Thanks to all who have taken the time to respond. We have spent many hours trying to find a dentist in the last several years. After a ton of research, this was the best choice. He is certainly the most expensive we've ever seen, and makes even a cleaning a real financial strain. But beyond that, the office seems pretty good. But there is nothing more humiliating than a cavity. The prisons are full of child molesters, but I'm sure many of them live with shame anyhow. Needing glasses is rather typical and expected. Cavities are perceived to be the patient's fault. There is a huge difference between "sucks to be you" and "you suck." Cavities, high blood pressure, and diabetes are sure to get you humiliating lectures from the professionals. Fortunately I've been able to fight off the hypertension and diabetes, at least to this point. I just wish dentists could just see how hard I've tried to take care of my teeth, but lectures seem to be a way of life in this area. (By both doctors and dentists.) I have no shame concerning my chronic migraines because nobody considers them the patient's fault.
Wow, this sounds like you have been treated really unkindly from dental and health care professionals in the past and I'm really sorry for that. Such lectures stick in an unpleasant manner. I would never come to an idea that high blood pressure or diabetes or tooth issues are someone's fault and if you take a look around here in the forum, particularly at the replies of our dentists here, you will see that they wouldn't handle you that way either. Of course this won't change your situation and your past experiences, but it is still important to make the note that, as Niall mentioned, it doesn't have to be this way. There ARE kind caring dentists out there who make people feel comfortable and supported. I wished your dentist would be of that kind too.

For many people having gotten a lecture from a dentist in the past is the reason why they stopped attending and someone who cares about making their patients comfortable would chose their words very carefully. I could think of many ways of letting you know that a tooth needs some attention without making you feel humiliated.
I was wondering about one thing. You said the practice seems pretty good, what are the things you like about them? And does your dentist know about how your feel about your teeth and about your therapy?

Sending you a virtual hug and well wishes, and again, as Niall already said, you are doing a great job, even if it might not feel this way right now.
 
J

JAB

Member
Joined
Jul 23, 2016
Messages
45
I’m sorry to hear that it comes across as a lecture and I’m even more sorry to hear that you perceive this as humiliating.

It does not need to be this way.

Seeking further support from a psychotherapist to help adapt the emotional response to such dental occurrences may be in your best interests.
I have been in therapy for about four years now. I've been referred from one specialist to another, but to no avail as of yet. Perhaps my past dental trauma is so deep that I may never really recover, but I will keep trying. Thanks for your support.
 
J

JAB

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Joined
Jul 23, 2016
Messages
45
Thanks to everyone for your support. It's greatly appreciated and desperately needed. I'd like to give a bit of background. (perhaps more in an effort to relieve some of what I hold in.)

When I was a teen, my mom made an appt for me because of a toothache. The dentist did an exam and x-rays and told me I had a cavity on the other side of my mouth and my pain was "sympathetic." Filled the tooth, but my pain kept getting worse.
Several weeks later the dentist called us and said I had 12 cavities that had to be filled. That's when the weeks of hell began. He physically restrained me and started working without anesthesia. He would not stop no matter how much I wanted him to. The pain was beyond what I could begin to describe. To make things worse, every appt ended with a lecture about not taking care of my teeth. I find it ironic that I went to him weeks earlier and he said all was fine. Looking back I'm baffled that he never suggested my teeth be cleaned, and that it took him several weeks to get the "x-rays back." In fact I was stunned a few years later I made an appt with another dentist for a check-up and they wanted to clean my teeth. I was stunned I never knew dentists did that. I was really naïve and it was my first experience with dentistry since I have been in elementary school. I had no clue what dentists did, and my parents were incredibly poor and dental care was a luxury we couldn't afford.
Twenty years later, I was pastoring a small church, and a lady told me she was terrified of an upcoming dentist appointment. She started telling her story that sounded very similar. I stopped her and finished telling her what the dentist did and who the dentist was. She asked me how I knew. I told her he did the same thing to me. For the first time, I realized I wasn't alone. There are several others I've met that shared similar stories. We all are haunted by the demons of the past. One lady called him "Dr. Butcher."
Thanks for letting me share my story. In a sense it does make me feel some better.
 
Enarete

Enarete

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Really sorry to read what awful things you have been through and also that your therapy didn't work out in a way you wished it to. I have read your older post and got a bit of a better picture I think and also remember your struggles in January.

I want to believe that no dental trauma is too deep to be overcame. There certainly are therapists and therapies that are more suitable than others for a particular issue and also for a particular person as we are all humans and need trust to heal. The biggest issue with dental phobia is, that while therapy can be amazing - and sometimes necessary - to work through some things that are standing in way or interfere with the dental phobia as such or anything that is heavy enough to make you unable to move forward, but you won't be able to overcome a dental trauma only with the help of a therapist; sooner or later you will need a dentist who will be willing to hear your story and take the time to help you gradually build trust into dentistry.

@Dr. Daniel once said that there is something special about dental phobia. First of all, it is the only phobia that is directly connected to a certain person - the dentist. Secondly, the things you are afraid of are pretty realistic. So the only way to overcome this is to have a dental team you trust.

From your past posts it looks like you have had a great dental people in your past and you had some not so great. I also got the impression that the last practice didn't really impress you and that you kind of made yourself suitable for them and hope they won't mess up. I got the point of your possibilities being limited and that you for some reason wish to stay in that practice and it is ok to stay with a non-ideal dentist for some time if you have no choice. However it wouldn't be unusual for your anxieties and worries to get worse during such a period. I am sure once you find a dentist who REALLY cares about you and makes sure to make you feel involved, comfortable, respected and listened to (and praised for your great home care and lovely teeth, because getting such a praise from a dentist after you thought you were a failure can change your world), you will naturally start to let go of older bad experiences and will more often remember the new ones.

In the mean time, I hope you can keep in mind that you are a beautiful soul and no amount of dental work needed can change that. :there-there:

All the best wishes, keep us posted and of course feel free to vent at any time, we are all here to listen:grouphug:
 
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J

JAB

Member
Joined
Jul 23, 2016
Messages
45
Really sorry to read what awful things you have been through and also that your therapy didn't work out in a way you wished it to. I have read your older post and got a bit of a better picture I think and also remember your struggles in January.

I want to believe that no dental trauma is too deep to be overcame. There certainly are therapists and therapies that are more suitable than others for a particular issue and also for a particular person as we are all humans and need trust to heal. The biggest issue with dental phobia is, that while therapy can be amazing - and sometimes necessary - to work through some things that are standing in way or interfere with the dental phobia as such or anything that is heavy enough to make you unable to move forward, but you won't be able to overcome a dental trauma only with the help of a therapist; sooner or later you will need a dentist who will be willing to hear your story and take the time to help you gradually build trust into dentistry.

@Dr. Daniel once said that there is something special about dental phobia. First of all, it is the only phobia that is directly connected to a certain person - the dentist. Secondly, the things you are afraid of are pretty realistic. So the only way to overcome this is to have a dental team you trust.

From your past posts it looks like you have had a great dental people in your past and you had some not so great. I also got the impression that the last practice didn't really impress you and that you kind of made yourself suitable for them and hope they won't mess up. I got the point of your possibilities being limited and that you for some reason wish to stay in that practice and it is ok to stay with a non-ideal dentist for some time if you have no choice. However it wouldn't be unusual for your anxieties and worries to get worse during such a period. I am sure once you find a dentist who REALLY cares about you and makes sure to make you feel involved, comfortable, respected and listened to (and praised for your great home care and lovely teeth, because getting such a praise from a dentist after you thought you were a failure can change your world), you will naturally start to let go of older bad experiences and will more often remember the new ones.

In the mean time, I hope you can keep in mind that you are a beautiful soul and no amount of dental work needed can't change that. :there-there:

All the best wishes, keep us posted and of course feel free to vent at any time, we are all here to listen:grouphug:
Thanks for all the kind words. I need to be very careful about changing dentists right now. I really think they are pretty good. I suspect that my perceptions are not really the reality. While I may have felt lectured, I must recognize the possibility that they are not necessarily a reflection of reality. I hope to talk to the dental assistant when I go in next week for the filling. She is really awesome and she has truly earned my trust. She could be a huge help for me. I've been referred for EMDR therapy because of it's effectiveness with trauma, but we are really early on with that. In the end, I feel like I'm still headed the right direction, despite being so triggered right now. I'm just so grateful for all the support and those who oversee this forum. You're heroes to me.
 
J

JAB

Member
Joined
Jul 23, 2016
Messages
45
Wow, this sounds like you have been treated really unkindly from dental and health care professionals in the past and I'm really sorry for that. Such lectures stick in an unpleasant manner. I would never come to an idea that high blood pressure or diabetes or tooth issues are someone's fault and if you take a look around here in the forum, particularly at the replies of our dentists here, you will see that they wouldn't handle you that way either. Of course this won't change your situation and your past experiences, but it is still important to make the note that, as Niall mentioned, it doesn't have to be this way. There ARE kind caring dentists out there who make people feel comfortable and supported. I wished your dentist would be of that kind too.

For many people having gotten a lecture from a dentist in the past is the reason why they stopped attending and someone who cares about making their patients comfortable would chose their words very carefully. I could think of many ways of letting you know that a tooth needs some attention without making you feel humiliated.
I was wondering about one thing. You said the practice seems pretty good, what are the things you like about them? And does your dentist know about how your feel about your teeth and about your therapy?

Sending you a virtual hug and well wishes, and again, as Niall already said, you are doing a great job, even if it might not feel this way right now.
There are things I do like about this dentist.
1. I'm not rushed. My previous dentist did a cleaning and exam in 30 min. The biggest reason I left there.

2. The dental assistant is awesome. I can get through anything if she is in the room.

3. I don't like small talk. (The hygienist doesn't stop talking) I'm phobic of having my BP taken. (The hygienist always wants to start by taking my BP, which I ALWAYS refuse. But it's a trigger for me.) In fact the hygienist does everything that tends to trigger me, but yet I'm relatively comfortable with her. I can't figure it out. She is out right now due to surgery, so I'm wondering if that would have made a difference for me. I don't know, but it's these things that make it difficult for me to go elsewhere. Of course I'm too ashamed to look for another dentist. The fewer people that look in my mouth the better off I am.
 
krlovesherkids777

krlovesherkids777

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Jab,

Sounds like a few positive things there , especially the feeling of not being rushed.. I know for me if I feel rushed it puts me into panic mode quick.. and I literally may leave at that point. so not rushed is so huge. Also great you like the assistant.. assistants are awesome sometimes! I love my assistant at the place I"m at now.. they also have another one that I don't as well that seems nice and likeable.. Do they have another hygenist? or just one? glad things are going better when she's out.
 
J

JAB

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Joined
Jul 23, 2016
Messages
45
Thanks to all of you who supported me during this time. The filling is finally over. I wish I could say it went well, but the reality is it may have been the most painful dental experience since I was a kid. The injection really, really hurt, and the drilling was just as bad. It was all I could do to force myself not to leave. My first instinct was to cancel my six month cleaning and go elsewhere, but I couldn't do that.

Everyone has a bad day, and I never had this dentist or assistant before. So I emailed the office and explained what the appointment was like for me, and told them a few things they could have done differently to make it easier for me. I was really pleased with their response and their expressed commitment to making the next appointment better. They knew I was anxious, so they thought it was best to get me through it as fast as possible. As a result the injection was rushed, they didn't wait long enough to begin drilling, and they never told me what they were doing, why they were doing, or where we were in the process. In fact they didn't talk to me at all for the entire hour because they assumed if they talked to me I would become more anxious. In the end not talking to me nearly sent me into a panic attack. They said they were going to make notes in my charts to remind them of the things I need from them to make dental appointments easier. I will give them another chance, but I will go elsewhere if they don't come through for me this time. Thanks again for all your support. You really did get me through this nightmare.
 
krlovesherkids777

krlovesherkids777

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Jab,

I m sorry you had this painful experience. I dn't put the heart emoji for that.. for sure, sounds like an extremely rough appt and not sure how you managed to get through it but you did. The amazing thing is the amount of self observation and just processing you went through in all this and the communication to your dental office to go and talk with them and explain all this. so it helps not only you but probably every anxious patient that walks in their door as you just helped increase their understanding by your very kind communication. I hope in giving them a second chance they really learn and make it a much better appointment next time.. I think you are absolutely amazing!!
 
J

JAB

Member
Joined
Jul 23, 2016
Messages
45
Well that is my hope. I truly believe a lot of the providers really want to help, but I'm not convinced dental schools are adequately equipping them to treat anxious patients. I've been searching RDH magazine for dental hygienists to see what they say about treating anxious patients. I was disappointed to see very little written on the subject, and what was written was ineffective or downright wrong. It has to start somewhere. Perhaps of enough of us use our voice we might actually be heard. May be need a "Me Too" movement for dental anxiety.
 
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