• Dental Phobia Support

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I am autistic and have a dental phobia. Can anyone help?.



Well-known member
Nov 5, 2014
I am 38 years old and I am autistic. I have always had a phobia of dentists. I used to see my dentist every three months. She left the practice soon after my last appointment in September. No one told me that she was going to leave so it was a shock. She was very good at putting me at ease. She said at first that I had problems with my gums but didn't say whether it was gingivitis or periodontitis. At my other appointments, she didn't say whether there was anything on the x ray and just said that I needed a scale and polish. I haven't had fillings or extractions since I was in my 20's. I have only had 2 extractions and three fillings. I hardly ever have sugar, drink water after I eat chocolate, always just have 1 glass of juice a day, 2 litres of water a day and 2 or three glasses of milk a day and have healthy food. I dont know how to floss so I dont do it. I worry about doing it wrong and I tried to once and my gums bled. I might try using a waterpik. I used to use colgate gum invigorate toothpaste and mouthwash but I think they have stopped selling them now so I will try either Oral B or Perioguard. Does anyone else have any suggestions on products?.

I went through a terrible time in 2015 and 2019. One dentist told me that I had periodontitis which terrified me. I had moved home and changed to another dental practice. Then I went back to the dentist that I originally saw. I have an appointment with a different dentist next Monday. I am terrified that they might say I have periodontitis. I decided to get an appointment with a private dentist so that I could be seen sooner because the other dentist at the practice that I usually go to can't see me until February and my appointment is already three months overdue. Does anyone have any advice on how I can get through the appointment and how to distract myself from thinking about it before Monday?. Are people allowed to post pictures of their teeth and gums for the dentists to see on the dentist forum here?. People who have autism can have very high levels of anxiety on most things. I would feel like asking the dentist whether I still have problems with my gums at the appointment but at the same time, I will be anxious about asking.
It is ok to post pictures of your teeth or mouth on the ask a dentist forum. My tip for how to distract oneself is keep busy doing things until monday, and if you aren't doing things, distract yourself with entertainment that keeps your mind busy like books, tv, socializing, or movies. Some of my favorite methods for dealing with appointments are using notes to make sure I remember what to talk about to the dentist, and what questions to ask, box breathing, which is a relaxation technique you can look up, arriving early (I tend to feel very stressed right when I arrive and spending some time in the waiting room lets me calm down) and bringing a support person with me.
@Nervous Thank you so much for your reply. My appointment last Monday was cancelled by the dentist. I had paid to see a private dentist because the NHS dentist couldn't see me until February. Luckily, I got a refund and there was a cancellation at the NHS surgery. My appointment is tomorrow with a new dentist because the dentist I saw recently left the practice. I am terrified and I have hardly eaten today. My mum is going to the appointment with me?. Should I ask the dentist how my gums are at the moment?. I feel too scared to ask. It confuses me when they say that there is nothing on the x ray but they ask me to go there every three months. I might also ask if the toothpaste and mouthwash I use for gums are good and ask them if waterpiks are good, if they can damage gums and if there is a correct way to use them. I tried flossing once but there was a lot of blood and I was scared of damaging the gums more. My mouth is also very small and my gums are thin. I keep trying to distract myself but it's hard to concentrate. I have nightmares sometimes that I might wake up and be in pain and have loose teeth someday and need a lot of work doing or that my teeth might not be able to be replaced. Anxiety and phobias are horrible aren't they?. I can't feel any pain now but sometimes I get twinges and I can't see any holes in my teeth. It might just be my gums but I cant tell whether they have improved, stayed the same or gotten worse.
I think it would be best to ask, even if you feel scared to ask. When I don't ask the dentist enough questions I always regret it, because then I have to worry over the uncertainty, and different possiblities. Maybe you should ask them why you go every three months, when it is more usual to see a dentist less often than that. I would want to know why I was being asked to do that, if I were you, because every 6 months is normal in the USA. I think the questions about the toothpaste, mouthwash, and waterpiks, are great ideas. I would suggest asking about flossing too, and tell them the same things you wrote here. If this was me, I would make a written list with all the questions and bring it with me to make sure I remembered. Yes, anxiety and phobias are miserable, and not being able to sleep because of them is miserable too. I have tried box breathing, yoga, and excercise like walking and biking for anxiety (which gives me insomnia), with some luck. If I were you, I would mention the twinges to the dentist too, and ask them if they think your gums are improving, staying the same, or getting worse. Information, and really knowing and understanding your situation, can feel a lot better than feeling confused, uncertain, and not knowing what is going on. It is like you don't have to worry and imagine different scenarios in your mind of what might be wrong. Good luck tomorrow! I hope it goes really well!
@NervousUSA I have been upset and confused. It all happened too quickly. The dentist said that I have plaque and tartar build up which is what they usually say when I have a check up but the dentist poked my gums with a metal thing and didnt tell me that she was going to do it and she said my gums are inflamed. They don't usually hurt but they hurt when she poked them. I don't like how they look and sometimes they bleed when I brush them and sometimes they don't. I'm also confused because I thought she said that I needed to see the hygienist for a deep clean but my mum said she had said that I need a scale and polish with the hygienist. I'm not sure why the dentist didn't give me a scale and polish. I also think that she should have explained what she was going to do before she put the metal thing on my gums. I'm also confused because I have another appointment with the dentist in a few months as well as the hygienist in a few months. It affected my mental health when I had a deep clean a few years ago. I think I may have PTSD from it. There was a lot of blood and they poked my gums then too. It's upsetting when your teeth can be fine but there is a problem with the gums and I feel frightened in case I ever lose them. I don't need any fillings or extractions. I asked the dentist about the waterpik but she didn't want to talk about it and told me to just brush and use mouthwash but I will still buy the waterpik. Do you think I should call the practice and ask what the appointments with the hygienist and the dentist are for or should I go to another practice where the dentist might be more understanding and either have a scale and polish with them or have a cleaning with the hygienist there?. I think they should have done a cleaning because I was due to have one.
That sounds very rough. It sounds like your dentist may be a bit more rushed and a bit less communicative than ideal. My dentist is like that too. Unfortunately dentists and doctors often do things to patients physically without explaining, like the gum poking thing. The best advice I got on this was to directly tell the doctor or the dentist at the beginning of appointment that you would like all examinations or procedures explained to you and be asked for consent before they are done. I did this once by writing that statement out and handing it to a doctor at the beginning of an appointment, and it worked. I would definitely call the place and ask what the appointments are for, whether or whether not you end up going to a different office. It would also be best to ask the other questions you have when calling too, like why didn't you get a scale and a polish at the last appointment, and if it is a deep clean you need or a scale and a polish, if you have questions about that. It can sometimes be a little nerve wracking to call a dentist's office, but much better than having unanswered questions to worry about, or have to go into appointments with a fear of the unknown because you don't know what is being done. You might be able to get advice about your dental situation or the situation with your gums, or about the water pik on the ask a dentist forum here, or use Denteractive. Denteractive isn't free but it is cheap and private and you can get a dentist's advice and they answer your questions.
I think a scale and polish is like a deep clean? I may be wrong. Personally, I would find a new practice. Dentist doesn’t seem to care too much in my opinion. A good dentist should be up front and honest. They have an obligation by law (I believe) to tell you every issue they find. All in all, I don’t think it sounds like you’re in bad shape. Get your scale and polish and put in the time at home to take proper care. Brush twice a day and floss at least once. I brush twice a day and floss every night. I will floss on my way home from work each day also with the little hand flossers.

Take care and keep your head up.