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I haven't been to the dentist in 10 years



Junior member
Sep 5, 2021

As I've mentioned, I haven't been to the dentist in 10 years for fears of anxiety, and judgment and I'm ashamed. One of the teeth on my bottom left side has been giving me problems for a few years. I've always just gotten antibiotics from my doctor and never followed up with dental treatment. The tooth pain and infection came back recently, with a vengeance, and this time I decided I couldn't deal with it anymore. I never want to feel this pain again.

I'm 33/m, and I've been on different medications since I was 11 which have caused dry mouth, one of them caused bruxism, which I still have. I stopped going to the dentist in 2011 when I was told I needed several root canals and several fillings. I was filled with dread. The only time I went back to a dentist was in 2014 for this same tooth (area) for an exam. The doctor told me I had some problems and and shared his plan with me that involved a different kind of cleaning, it could have been scaling. I just remember that my dental discount plan didn't cover it, couldn't afford it and the courage I built up to go back in 2014 was gone after that.

Now I'm not sure what's going on with my teeth. I know I've had unfinished root canals in 2010, and I don't remember what the dentist in 2011 said about those, I think they were part of the problem because those little posts came out, parts of my teeth would start to fall out, and I'm most sorry to myself that I just ignored dentistry after all of this.

My appointment is on the 9th with the same dentist as I had in 2011. In my mind, I think she's going to examine my teeth, look at the x-rays from 10 years ago and it's not going to be good.

I took some photos like y'all suggested and even though I brush twice a day, once in a while use those floss sticks, I never actually looked at how the bottom left side of my teeth were. I am in terror of the appointment. I'm thinking all these bottom teeth are going to have to come out. I'm thinking I'm going to be ending up with dentures in my 30's and I've got no one to blame but myself. I'm ashamed. I'm afraid what the dentist is going to think of me and it's causing me a lot of panic along with this pain that the antibiotics aren't really doing much for.

The photos are mirrored, the side with the missing tooth (don't even remember why it's missing) is the right and not my problem area... yet. I tried taking photos as best as I could. They're disgusting, not really SFW and I'm self-conscious about posting them

If any dentist can let me know what I'm looking at when I go to this appointment, I'd appreciate knowing beforehand. I know it's really bad and the anxiety about having the hygienist or dentist thinking poorly of me is bad, but I'm really worried about needing dentures.

Here's the images:



We need a FAQ about this, not that anybody seems to read the FAQs anyway :)

1) Dentists are by and large "do-ers", they don't spend much time worrying about how things got to where they are, they're usually busy trying to work out what they're going to do to fix it.

2) Believe it or not, we don't make judgements on people's character based on the state of their teeth, it's just not that important to us and we're usually pretty grateful they're giving us the chance to sort it all out

3) Your teeth aren't that bad. Your dentist will absolutely have seen worse. And won't care anyway because 1&2 :)

4) Your appointment will be the dentist charting which teeth you have in your mouth, diagnosing what needs done and probably taking some x-rays. They should then explain to you what they propose doing and what it will cost. You can then discuss it with them and decide whether or not you want to proceed.
Thank you Dr. Gordon, I've been reading several of your posts and see you've often been mentioning that. Many apologies for skipping the FAQ.

I have another question if you can find spare time. I looked up the doctor who accepts my discount plan, it's only one person, a general dentist and I'm obviously not going to post his name here. There are these websites that allow patients to rate their doctor/dentists. All of this doctor's bad reviews mention upselling.

I'm not sure what kind of treatment plan this doctor will offer, I'm almost hoping he will just recommend extracting these bottom teeth and having partial dentures and have it done with. Now I'm actually worried about unnecessary treatments that could end up needing more and more appointments and then not having enough money to pay for them.

I guess my question is; would it be rude of me to look at the treatment plan and ask if there is a cheaper alternative route that involves extraction rather than trying to save a tooth? Again, I don't think my bottom left side stand a chance and extraction, maybe dentures may be the plan. But there's a lot of financial anxiety that is going along with this as well.

I feel like I'm such a 'yes' man when I'm dealing with any doctor. For me, as a patient, for any kind of doctor, I want to be courteous, I never want the doctor to feel like "this guy is a pain in the ass". I would NEVER accuse a doctor/dentist of ever trying to upsell treatment, I am very trusting, maybe too trusting but I also don't when it's appropriate to speak up about financial concerns because honestly, there's no "second opinion" dentist for me on this plan. There is ONE doctor who is in my network without having to drive 50+ miles which feels insane to me, but I chose the plan so I'll take the blame on that one.

tl;dr: When is it appropriate to speak up about financial concerns and alternatives and will the doctors often become frustrated with you? I'll take your word that doctors are do-ers but they're not all the same when it comes to running a business, which is totally understandable.

This is Canada:
and I know I shouldn't have watched it, I'm sure you may have seen it, but it really freaked me out even if Canada handle dentistry differently than the states.

I'm anxious about SO many things about going to the dentist that I want to tell them straight up, take out all my teeth, I'll pay for full dentures and only ever go back to the dentist for routine denture checkups, however that works. I am that afraid of ALL of this and it's hard for me to calm down as I'm writing this. It's been torturous waiting for this appointment.

Thank you, though
I know you mean so well and I totally respect this practice, I'm just very afraid
The success stories have really helped

Edit: I'm really sorry if you took offense to me mentioning upselling or that video, I really meant no disrespect towards the practice. I just called my mother in a panic and she said this is 100% necessary and would loan me funds based on the treatment the plan. I hate having her giving me money for anything. It makes me feel so low but I'm glad she knows it's important. She's been pushing me to go to the dentist for years and I'm doing it. So whatever happens will happen.
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I guess my question is; would it be rude of me to look at the treatment plan and ask if there is a cheaper alternative route that involves extraction rather than trying to save a tooth? Again, I don't think my bottom left side stand a chance and extraction, maybe dentures may be the plan. But there's a lot of financial anxiety that is going along with this as well.

It's hard to be specific when we don't know what the dentist is likely to propose, but you have the right to accept or refuse any treatment suggested. You also don't have to agree to anything right away, if the dentist is any kind of a professional then they'll be happy for you to go away with their treatment plan and think it over. If they aren't then I suggest that's a bit of a red flag and I'd be looking elsewhere.

I would say that going from most of your own teeth to full dentures at a young age will give you a whole heap of issues, both in the short term as you learn to accommodate the change but most emphatically when you get a bit older.
Thanks Dr. Gordon. I know the dentist I'll be seeing and I did a little googling and he's got raving reviews which puts me at ease.

I know you'd need x-rays and better photos but is there anything you see in the ones I posted that is alarming? Do you see any signs of saving a tooth? I don't want dentures, but implants aren't something I could afford unless it was one or two. I'm losing sleep over this and I'm verbally telling myself "you got this" but my brain isn't buying it.

Also, I know I'm legally able to request a copy of my x-rays in the US, do you think they'd give me a copy the same day as my first appt?
I'd not like to hazard any guesses based on some blurry photos, I can't see anything there that's going to involve a total clearance of teeth though!
Your gums look in good condition which is pretty much the most important thing, teeth we can fix or replace easily, gums are hard to fix!

They might well be prepared to e-mail you your films, there will likely be a small charge for this though.
Thanks once again Dr. Gordon. You've been such a great help. I'm still very anxious but not as much as I was before finding this forum. Wish me luck! Will report back tomorrow.:hug4:
Good luck!