• Dental Phobia Support

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I finally did it but...

Punkerpants

Punkerpants

Member
Joined
Oct 31, 2018
Messages
45
Location
Los Angeles, CA
After 20 years of living in fear and avoiding dentists, I finally went at the beginning of this year. I was super proud of myself. The reason I finally decided to go is because when I was around 10 years old (the last appointment that I went to until now), the dentist had given me a filling and ever since that day, that tooth has been bothering me. It finally got to the point where the pain was so severe I couldn't take it anymore.

I had a friend go with me for support. I even had to ask her to call to make the appointment for me. By some miracle, I did make it there but started bawling as soon as I sat in the chair. The dentist freaked out (even though my friend told them it would happen) and said I should go to a sedation dentist. I declined because one of my issues is trust, and I'm even more terrified of not being aware of what they do to me. He said fine, but I need medical clearance before he could look at my teeth because my blood pressure and heart rate were through the roof. My heart rate was 156 when it's normally around 75.

So I had to leave and make an appointment with a doctor to sign a paper saying I'm healthy enough for a dental cleaning and check-up. Then I had to wait some more and dread some more for ANOTHER dentist appointment. The whole thing was so traumatic for me because not only did I have to make two dentist appointments, I also have a phobia of all doctors and having to make a doctor's appointment just for a stupid signature on top of that was just too much for me.

The pain had gone down by that point, and I could have just decided not to go. But again, by some miracle I was able to make it to the second appointment. I survived it. I was told that I have severe TMJ problems and all 4 of my wisdom teeth are severely impacted and need to come out ASAP and was recommended braces (all of which I was expecting to hear so wasn't surprised about). But aside from those things, he said my teeth look healthy. No cavities, no gingivitis. I was beyond shocked because it had been 20 years since I had a professional cleaning done.

I went home over the moon, not even caring that the tooth that caused me to go in the first place was never addressed (I assumed there was nothing wrong with it despite the recurring pain). Then, a few days later, I got an email saying my medical chart had been updated so I logged in to take a look. They had logged the dental visit. I was shocked when I read the results section, which said "chronic gingivitis, dental caries, and abnormal findings." I have no idea why the dentist did not mention the gingivitis and cavities to me. I asked my friend why he didn't tell me, and she said maybe he could see how stressed I was and didn't want to freak me out even more. But that doesn't make sense to me, since he told me about my wisdom teeth.

Now I don't know what to do. It's now been almost a year, and I still have not done anything with my referral for wisdom teeth removal or the TMJ specialist and braces. And I haven't been back to talk about those mysterious "dental caries" that the dentist never told me about. I feel like I'll probably just go back to avoiding again until another issue comes up 20 years from now. I can't talk to anyone about this, because everyone I know just tells me to suck it up and do it.:cry:
 
Enarete

Enarete

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 18, 2017
Messages
3,234
Hi Punkerpants:welcome:,

I'm sorry to read about your past experience and it is no surprise that you seem to struggle more than before after this. :( t is not unusual for dental anxiety to get worse after a bad experience and what you described definitely sounds like one. It sounds like the breaking point where you had lost trust was after you got this email and saw the chart. This is very generous from you - reading you post it sounds like the dentist had lost it much earlier.

First of all, dental anxiety is very common and so are crying patients. Your friend had warned your dentists about your anxiety and I suppose they knew you haven't seen a dentist for a long time so his reaction was very inappropriate. Him suggesting sedation only fits into the picture and sounds like he just isn't used (and obviously interested) to work with severe dental phobics. People who panic have high blood pressure and heart rate, that's again quite normal and it would be wise if the dentist put his focus on talking to you and clarifying what was happening with you. I am very impressed that you actually got to a doctor to get the papers and then get back to this dentist, wow.
How did the friend who accompanied you perceive the situation?

I find it weird that you got recommended braces so early on the appointment. I do not know how it works in the country you live, but in my country braces is a cosmetic treatment, it costs a lot of money if someone is older than 18 and counts to the treatments that wouldn't get suggested on the first appointment, unless it's something a patient voices as something that bothers her. The focus in the initial phases should always be to build trust, start slowly and take care of the medically necessary things first.

A dentist is supposed to tell you what he has found in your mouth, so I can't understand how your chart could get updated later, but this is only a top of the whole story. The fact is that he failed at putting you at ease and making you feel listened to and well taken care of which is a sign that you should keep on looking. I wouldn't even think of getting back if I were in your shoes. Just remember, any time you make a bad experience, you overall dental anxiety gets worse. You want to make sure to have an understanding caring dentist who really takes the time to listen to you and talk to you about your fears and concerns and who would be willing to support your on your journey and lead you, in small steps to the treatment you need.

I believe that posting here is a new start and that you can find a dentist you can trust. Could you imagine starting anew and just google dentists in your area to see if there is any practice you feel like contacting? We also have a recommendation section here on the forum, you might find someone near you there...

All the best wishes and let us know your thoughts
 
Punkerpants

Punkerpants

Member
Joined
Oct 31, 2018
Messages
45
Location
Los Angeles, CA
Thank you for your kind response. It is encouraging to know that I'm not just being a baby about it and confirming that the experience wasn't a good one.

I was always under the assumption that dentists had to be honest about what issues they find also. And yes, this experience kind of made me more distrustful of them. Unfortunately, I can't go to a different office because my health insurance requires me to be seen at that specific location. But there are a few other dentists who work there, so I can request a different one and hopefully they'll be more understanding. When my friend called to make the appointment, she asked them for the kindest, most understanding dentist available. She also mentioned that I would be really upset and would cry. They laughed and said they were used to nervous patients ("we get them all the time!") and recommended one that they said everyone loved and scheduled me with him. However, when I got there they said there was some kind of mix-up and I had to be seen by this other dentist instead, or else I would have to reschedule, which I really did not want to do. I wasn't sure I could walk in the door again. IF I ever make it back there again I will be sure to ask for the one I was originally supposed to see.

I'm surprised by their reaction to me crying after they told my friend they get nervous patients all the time as well. I think it's partly because the people they see all the time are probably people who have a minor fear and are only slightly anxious. Those that are petrified simply would not be there unless it was an emergency.

I live in the US (Los Angeles) and it seems like they really love putting braces on people. I'm from Japan so I was very surprised by it when I first moved here, since in Japan it is not that common. The dentist said in my case it was to correct my overbite which he said could cause problems; he did not say it was for cosmetic reasons. I don't know if I believe him though. He ruined what little trust I had.
 
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Enarete

Enarete

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Sep 18, 2017
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It is encouraging to know that I'm not just being a baby about it and confirming that the experience wasn't a good one.

You're not being a baby, nobody with dental fear is. Being dental phobic is a very serious thing and it is awful how sometimes a single negative experience can lead to struggling or even avoiding receiving dental care for many years.

I was always under the assumption that dentists had to be honest about what issues they find also.

This is the case, a dentist should be legally obligued to be honest to you and to give you a clear diagnosis. If you get back to the practice, they should be able to explain to you how this sudden change could happen and, most importantly, what needs to get done on which teeth.

Hope you will be more lucky with the other dentist and get some clear information about what treatment you need.
 
Punkerpants

Punkerpants

Member
Joined
Oct 31, 2018
Messages
45
Location
Los Angeles, CA
Yes, no one with dental phobia is a baby and I just have to keep that in mind when I start thinking that about myself. I guess another part of my anxiety is that other people will think so and judge me for it. I had doctors (and other people) call me a baby when I was upset and crying over a procedure. Then they proceeded to hold me down for it. That was how my phobia started. I was 3 years old at the time.

My phobia of dentists started when a dentist drilled cavities without numbing me at all. He said numbing wouldn't be necessary and since I also have a phobia of needles I was thrilled. It was one of the most excruciating experiences of my life. I signaled him to stop, he told me he was almost done and carried on for what felt like an eternity. He wasn't almost done!

Then he proceeded to dislocate my jaw and I had to have him put it back in place which was also extremely painful. Then he blamed ME for opening my mouth too wide and causing it to dislocate when he was the one that pulled it.

I have posted about this experience under a different username before I had my most recent appointment, but I have since forgotten the password AND the password for the email so that account is now a lost cause.:oops:
 
Enarete

Enarete

Super Moderator
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Messages
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I guess another part of my anxiety is that other people will think so and judge me for it. I had doctors (and other people) call me a baby when I was upset and crying over a procedure. Then they proceeded to hold me down for it.

This is awful. When we are in a state of anxiety or feeling out of control, any cruel words can hurt us and this wounds stay forever. Hearing this from someone who is an authority is even worse. Holding kids down for procedures and scaring them was an usual practice some time ago (and it has been only in the last few yeats that the psychology grasps the real impact of such experiences), but it is important to keep in mind that if something like this happened now it would be against the law. I am even more sorry now for how that dentist reacted on your visit, he basically refreshed those old memories.


My phobia of dentists started when a dentist drilled cavities without numbing me at all. He said numbing wouldn't be necessary and since I also have a phobia of needles I was thrilled. It was one of the most excruciating experiences of my life. I signaled him to stop, he told me he was almost done and carried on for what felt like an eternity. He wasn't almost done!
Then he proceeded to dislocate my jaw and I had to have him put it back in place which was also extremely painful. Then he blamed ME for opening my mouth too wide and causing it to dislocate when he was the one that pulled it.

This is terrible too. A dentist causing you pain, refusing to stop, hurting you badly and then blaming you. I am getting sick even reading it. You must have a huge discipline, I wouldn't be able to even talk to a dentist if I were in your shoes.

I so much keep my fingers crossed for you to get a gentle lovely kind caring dentist who will listen to you and take care of you well. :clover:
 
Punkerpants

Punkerpants

Member
Joined
Oct 31, 2018
Messages
45
Location
Los Angeles, CA
Thank you, Enarete.

Sorry for making you feel sick. It still gives me flashbacks and nightmares, which of course doesn't help my fears.

I still have a long way to go, but I am much better than I used to be. I used to get panic attacks just from driving past a dentist's office or clinic/hospital. Even saying words like "dentist" or "needle" freaked me out. There are still some words I can't say or type. I never dreamed I would ever be able to go back.

One thing that really helped me was reading all the threads here before going to my appointment. Although I didn't post much it was very encouraging to read other people's experiences/success stories/concerns and know I wasn't going through it alone and that there are people who understand and care.

So thank you everyone if you're reading this. :)
 
G

griffinej5

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 15, 2011
Messages
197
Sorry things didn’t go great on your first trip back to the dentist. I know i replied in your other thread about going to a dental school, but the blood pressure issue is one that comes up for me pretty often when i go. The dental school I’m going to won’t work on people over a certain blood pressure without medical clearance, and mine is often high from being panicked. They know this where i go, so now if it’s too high, they just wait a few minutes and do it again. If they know that it might be because you are panicked, this might be something you can ask. Someone at the dental school suggested this for me a while ago, and now when i get someone new i tell them this. I had to go into a different clinic a few weeks ago, and my blood pressure was too high the first time it was checked. I had to tell him it was pretty typical for me, and I just told him in the main clinic they just repeat it in a little bit.
 
Punkerpants

Punkerpants

Member
Joined
Oct 31, 2018
Messages
45
Location
Los Angeles, CA
I get my blood pressure rechecked too. Often it's a bit lower but not enough to satisfy them. I go to the doctor frequently now for asthma, and my blood pressure is sky high every. single. time. It is so frustrating. And every time I go I tell them it's going to be high but they always seem concerned even though I remind them it's the anxiety.

I was even put on blood pressure medication even though I kept telling them it was just anxiety. I ended up getting very ill from the meds because my blood pressure got too low at home. I was then put on Paxil for anxiety, which I also had a bad reaction to. So now I'm on Zoloft which is better because I haven't had any bad reactions to it, but it does absolutely nothing for my anxiety when I'm at the doctor. I feel no difference taking it and my blood pressure is still high. I think I need something a lot stronger to take just before I go. But for whatever reason they are reluctant to do that.

If you don't mind my asking, have you been given any meds to take for the anxiety and have they worked at all?
 
Sevena

Sevena

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Joined
Jun 24, 2012
Messages
825
Location
UK
I get my blood pressure rechecked too. Often it's a bit lower but not enough to satisfy them. I go to the doctor frequently now for asthma, and my blood pressure is sky high every. single. time. It is so frustrating. And every time I go I tell them it's going to be high but they always seem concerned even though I remind them it's the anxiety.

I was even put on blood pressure medication even though I kept telling them it was just anxiety. I ended up getting very ill from the meds because my blood pressure got too low at home. I was then put on Paxil for anxiety, which I also had a bad reaction to. So now I'm on Zoloft which is better because I haven't had any bad reactions to it, but it does absolutely nothing for my anxiety when I'm at the doctor. I feel no difference taking it and my blood pressure is still high. I think I need something a lot stronger to take just before I go. But for whatever reason they are reluctant to do that.

If you don't mind my asking, have you been given any meds to take for the anxiety and have they worked at all?

Hello, I've had the same problem of my blood pressure reacting to my anxiety and giving doctors wonky readings. It's really frustrating.

If zoloft doesn't affect your anxiety, tell your doctor! Not all medications are effective. You had a bad reaction to paxil, so they can rule that out, but they can definitely try other meds that might work better for your anxiety.

I myself have been on beta-blockers and citalopram. Neither worked for me at all, but escitalopram was better. I came off it quite quickly, as I was getting CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and that helped my anxiety, but I certainly know how it feels to ride the med carousel, and panic because they're not working.

It's not your fault that no meds have worked for you yet. It's fairly common. Hang in there, and don't lose hope! :hug4:
 
Punkerpants

Punkerpants

Member
Joined
Oct 31, 2018
Messages
45
Location
Los Angeles, CA
Hello, I've had the same problem of my blood pressure reacting to my anxiety and giving doctors wonky readings. It's really frustrating.

If zoloft doesn't affect your anxiety, tell your doctor! Not all medications are effective. You had a bad reaction to paxil, so they can rule that out, but they can definitely try other meds that might work better for your anxiety.

I myself have been on beta-blockers and citalopram. Neither worked for me at all, but escitalopram was better. I came off it quite quickly, as I was getting CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and that helped my anxiety, but I certainly know how it feels to ride the med carousel, and panic because they're not working.

It's not your fault that no meds have worked for you yet. It's fairly common. Hang in there, and don't lose hope! :hug4:

Aww, thank you for your kind words. It definitely is frustrating, and I'm glad I can finally talk to people who understand and can relate.

I think I might need to switch doctors because the one I'm currently seeing doesn't really listen. I kept telling her my symptoms after I started taking Paxil (nausea, vomiting, dizziness) and begged her to let me stop taking it. Her response was "You're probably just not drinking enough water and you're dehydrated. You can't come off the Paxil because your anxiety is too severe."

Just by chance I had to see a different doctor because my doctor was on vacation and I mentioned my symptoms to her and she immediately took me off the Paxil and switched to Zoloft, saying that some people do better on that. I might see if I can switch to her, since she was much more willing to listen.

I have done some research on my own and looked into other medications and CBT. Also just speaking with a counselor or therapist. But my insurance doesn't cover that, unfortunately.

I'm curious if others have talked to therapists about dental phobia and if it helped and would be worth paying out of pocket for. At the same time I'm kind of scared to do it, because that would mean that I would HAVE to face my fears, if that makes sense. In a weird way being scared and avoiding is kind of....easy? I've had these fears almost my whole life and actively taking steps to overcome it sounds overwhelming.
 
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