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I Haven’t Seen a Dentist in 10 Year

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Christinethebean88

Junior member
Joined
Apr 28, 2018
Messages
8
How everyone! I’m new to this forum and I just wanted to start by saying that I’m so glad I found it. All of your stories and encouragement have been a great comfort to me since I found you.

I don’t remember when I started being afraid of the dentist, but the last time I went was maybe 10-11 years ago. Back then, I never took care of my teeth. I rarely ever brushed let alone flossed and mouthwashed. I’ve never been a smoker, but I’ve also never been particularly careful about what I ate and how that would effect my teeth.

About 4 years ago, I started to get serious about taking care of my teeth. I now floss, brush, and mouthwash religiously twice a day, everyday. But I guess we can’t undo the sins of our past. I have one broken tooth, a chunk broke off while eating something hard about a year ago, and all of my back teeth have visible cavities, some of them big black spots. That’s not too mention what might be happening with my front teeth. My gums swell up and bleed sometimes and have been for years. Luckily, I’m not in any pain and other than some mild sensitivity to cold food, I don’t have any actual complaints.

Objectively, I know my teeth are not the worst the world has ever seen, and certainly not the worst a dentist has ever seen, but I can’t help fearing that when I open my mouth my dentist will be too disgusted to even speak to me. Guys, the fear of judgment is so real.

I’m so ashamed of the state I let my teeth get in and I can’t help but obsess over the amount of work and money fixing it is going to cost me. What if they have to pull all of my back teeth?? What if I have 25 cavities?? I can’t stop going to all the worst places.

I know I have to move forward with my life though which is why my husband made an appointment for me for Tuesday (I was too much of a coward to call myself). It’s just a gentle cleaning and X-rays and a check up but I’m freaking out. My husband has been to these dentists and says that they are the nicest around and were so understanding on the phone when he explained my situation. I also know these dentists are specifically sedation dentists so they are probably used to dealing with people in my situation but that knowledge is not helping my anxiety. I’m barely sleeping and concentrating at work seems impossible until it’s over. I just want it to be done and over with so bad.

For now, I’m just trying to focus on how relieved I’ll be when it’s all over and the treatment is completed, no matter how complicated and expensive it ends up being.
How did you all get through the anxiety before taking that big first step?

I’ve read through a lot of stories here that have given me a lot of comfort and I really appreciate all of you for sharing your stories. Thank you so much just for existing :)
 
FearfulInMA

FearfulInMA

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I Haven’t Seen a Dentist in 10 Year

This sounds so much like me when I first went back to the dentist after many, many years of not going. My teeth looked horrible and I couldn’t even imagine getting them fixed or having anyone look at them. I remember feeling sick to my stomach with anxiety and not sleeping from the time I called to make the appt to the time when I actually had my appt with the dentist. I’ve now been going to the same dentist regularly for 10 years. It’s not always been smooth sailing and there have been some bumps in the road, but I have the confidence now to know I can get through treatment and keep my teeth & mouth healthy.

In terms of getting through to your appt, I find one thing that has helped me is to make a list of all of the things I need to do before my appt - not necessarily related to my appt - like work 2 days, go grocery shopping, go to the gym, etc. This helps me to focus on concrete tasks. I also watch a lot of mindless TV to distract myself. Also, lots of people find planning something nice for after the appt to look forward to CSN be helpful.

Also, keep coming back here for support.

You got this!
 
P

palette

Junior member
Joined
Apr 23, 2018
Messages
4
Location
Asia
Hello Christine,

It's awesome that you've gotten an appointment set up! That's already a huge first step.

When I first visited my current dentist after several years of not having seen a dentist before that, I was really embarrassed about the state I perceived my teeth to be in. While the dentist was cleaning my teeth, he did say (with a very matter-of-fact tone) that he could tell I hadn't been to a dentist in a long time. BUT he immediately followed that up with saying that what happened in the past didn't matter, and that all that was important was that I was making an effort to improve. The knowledge that my dentist wasn't judging me for not doing that great in the past, and that he really just wanted to help me improve my dental health in the future, alleviated a lot of the fear of judgement for me. I think this is a characteristic of all good dentists - they're not there to judge you for your past, they're there to help you have a healthier future :)

As far as making it to the appointment, I agree with finding things to do to keep your mind occupied in the days leading up to it, and planning something that you enjoy for after. Exercising can be a great way to work off nervous energy. I also talked to some friends who were really patient and able to support me emotionally when I felt really overwhelmed. You're always welcome to post here if you feel that working through your thoughts and emotions through a platform like this would help you!

It might help to bring a stress ball or something similar to your appointment so you can use up some nervous energy too.

Oftentimes the first steps are the hardest, but we're rooting for you. All the best! Let us know how it goes :)
 
Dg6300

Dg6300

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 27, 2017
Messages
634
Location
US
You are doing really well: you've posted here and agreed to go to an appointment.

I think you're going to be okay. You are going to make it. There will be some moments, but you'll get your answers. And the answers may not be great-great news, but I'm sure they won't be as bad as you may be imagining.

Good luck, and let us know how it goes. Definitely, keep us posted.

Edit: Also, when you're at the dentist office, be sure to ask for a recommendation for a periodontist. A good periodontist can really improve your life.
 
C

CDA489

Junior member
Joined
Apr 28, 2018
Messages
7
I recently went back to the dentist after a fairly long time away as well. One thing that really helped me, I did a lot of research to find a dentist with good reviews, it sounds like with your husband having gone to these dentists you know you're in safe hands!

I needed a cleaning very badly as well, my dentist offered numbing cream for my gums which made me a lot more comfortable (ask if that's possible). I experienced MILD discomfort, mild I promise and I don't have a great pain tolerance. I could have asked for the stronger cream they offered however I didn't want to stop and start again. A good dentist will be patient, mine asked if I needed breaks and kept reminding me I was okay. I also asked if I could put my headphones in and listened to a podcast I like, boy did that help make the hour go quickly. Afterwards my teeth and gums felt amazing, honestly my gums have been inflamed for years and now they don't bleed at all when I brush. I've been researching how to keep them this healthy.

I too was ashamed of the state of my teeth and was worried about being judged. I was upfront with the dentist about my fear and how that has impacted me getting things taken care of. She was kind and not judgmental. I really think a lot of dental fear can be overcome by finding the right dentist.

As for finances, that is also scary for me as very soon I'll definitely be making out my dental insurance, she assured me we'd work something out so I can have all my needed work done, perhaps they offer a payment plan?

Remember, you can't change the past but you've taken a huge step by making this appointment and are being proactive about your health.
 
Enarete

Enarete

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 18, 2017
Messages
3,116
Hi Christine, you have made the decision to change your situation and have made an appointment, a huge well done for that. Also glad to hear that your husband informed your dental practice about your situation and they seem to be good with nervous patients.

Here are some things that I have learned during my journey:

1. Anxiety just is. It's draining, it's terrible, it makes you unable to live for that few days / weeks / months before your appointment and it absolutely sucks, but it's just there and you can't change it. So better to accept it as a companion for that time and try to live in peace with it. It's not fun to work and live with stomachaches, nightmares and high adrenaline, but it's not impossible either.

And you know, what? You will win anyway, no matter how strong the fear is, that one is guaranteed. On Tuesday, you will get your exam and no matter how bad the anxiety is, you will walk out as a winner.

2. There are huge shifts in the intensity of the dental fear. No matter how bad the anxiety is, you WILL experience windows of having no anxiety - sometimes just for a minute, sometimes for an hour, sometimes there is a whole day that works well. Also other difficult emotions might pop up, like sadness, anger, frustration and these are fine too.

3. There will be periods of fear where distraction works and there will be some when nothing works. That's fine and belongs to the process.

4. The anxiety before the first appointment is the worst.

My biggest salvation when dealing with my anxiety was writing a journal here on the forum and I would do that extensively and write down every single thought no matter how silly, no matter how big the anxiety of being judged by the forum members, no matter what. I would write every day, several times a day, huge posts that sometimes took me an hour or more to write and it relieved me every single time.

All the best wishes, you have a lot of fans here now so don't forget to keep us posted and may the waiting time pass very quickly. :)
 
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