• Dental Phobia Support

    Welcome! This is an online support group for anyone who is has a severe fear of the dentist or dental treatment. Please note that this is NOT a general dental problems or health anxiety forum! You can find a list of them here.

    Register now to access all the features of the forum.

I need help :( PTSD, dental phobia, abuse survivor...I've got it all.



Junior member
Jun 7, 2013
Hello everyone, I would much appreciate some advice and help! I have PTSD style phobia about the dentist and I have horrible teeth. Over the years I have had many dental procedures - every tooth in my head has been filled at least twice, extractions, crowns, root canals, bridges. I have had abscessed teeth that caused systemic infection, I've had a root canal done in which the tooth was not at all numb. I've been under IV sedation at least 4 times for different procedures. Some of my first memories in life were tooth extractions.

I also had a lot of childhood abuse from my parents and as a result I have extreme difficulties with the dentist. The loss of control and fear of being hovered over while hanging upside down in a chair is mortifying. I get so scared I cry and panic and can't breathe. I feel so stupid because I"m a 34 year old very successful business owner but when I get in the dental chair I'm an idiot that can hardly speak.

Today I had 2 teeth prepped for crowns and a bridge. It took 2 hours because there were old fillings and cavities that needed to be fixed. I ended up with 4 injections of anesthetic and still felt pain. This is a new dentist and he's not really aware of my mental issues.....I was actually doing ok until he started using this gingival retraction cord with an astringent impregnated into the nylon. He didn't tell me what he was doing, and it was scary and confusing. It was painful and the taste was horrific. I got an instant headache and nausea. The stuff was burning my mouth and throat really bad and I tried asking him about it and he just kind of blew off my question. "Oh, it's just the astringent." What! What do you mean astringent!? What are you doing, what is that for? "Oh that's just the chemical that will make your gums pull back away from your teeth." WHAT! Why are you doing that?!

Anyway it freaked me out so bad I started crying and panicking. I felt like a total freaking fool!!!

They got to the point they could make the impression and they filled both trays with the impression stuff and put it in my mouth. I started panicking again and feeling like I couldn't breath. My nose was completely clogged shut from crying and I could NOT breathe! After about 30 seconds I was feeling light headed and was suffocating so I pulled the trays out of my mouth.

The assistant kind of yelled at me "What are you doing!" I told her I cannot breathe, I have to take this out! She started telling me that now you've done it, we have a big mess to clean up now! Well whatever, I was going to suffocate!

The doctor came in and she told him "She pulled the trays out." What! he says.....Why?! I told him I could not breathe, I was suffocating and the taste of that astringent is still in my mouth and I am so sick to my stomach I'm choking down vomit. I can't do this!

They seemed annoyed....

I've spent all day so embarassed I want to die, and bawling my eyes out. I am so scared to go back. They weren't able to do what they have to do and I have to go back on Tuesday to get the astringent cord stuff again and the impressions done. I am so scared of choking to death and suffocating. The burning of that astringent and the taste of it was awful.

WHAT am I going to do??? This is horrible. At this point I am so scared I feel like I should go to a psychiatrist and get medication. :o
Another abuse survivor here. Here are some tricks I use. First I use disassociation. I try to get my mind in another place. I remember being at the beach with my husband, and I try to actually be there. I concentrate on feeling the sun on my face, the feel of sand under my feet, the feel of the breeze on my cheek.

If that doesn't work I close my eyes. I see the little pinpoints of light behind my eyelids. Kind of like a galaxy of stars. I try to make that my moment. Then when that stops working I feel the pressure of my shoes on my feet, and concetrate on sounds far away. Like the sounds of other patients, doors closing, phones, ect,......

When I want to bolt and run, I remind myself how I am doing these things because I need to do them, not because I want to do them. And against all my instincts I tell myself the person working on me is doing the right things, and they know what they are doing. Yes, that really is the paradox because we have learned that people working on our teeth and mouths are not always doing the right thing. But it's not like you can stop midway in a procedure because that tends to make things worse.

I feel for you. You already have been through so much. I think you are very brave to have endured all that you have, and keep persevering.
Hi RaeRae :welcome:! That sounds like an absolutely horrific experience you had there. The dentist and the staff sound as if they're totally unsuited to working with anxious patients (though they're probably quite good at creating dental phobics :rolleyes:). I would hope that the majority of dentists would explain what they were doing as they went along, although some will have better people skills and communication skills than others. It sounds though that when you did make your needs known, they were ignored and you were fobbed off with one-liners and your obvious distress was ignored. It doesn't sound as if they did their best to provide a painfree experience, either :(.

I think you can find a much better dentist than this one, someone who treats with respect, kindness and someone who gives you control and keeps you involved with what is happening both before and during any treatment.

It's important though that you do let them know how you feel (you don't have to state the reasons why unless you feel comfortable talking about them). This will make it much easier for them to help you - it's often been said that dentists aren't mind-readers, and that's very true :)! If you know what would help you (e.g. having a running commentary and explanations as to what's going to happen next and what it will feel like), all the better. Some people have found it helpful to write a letter to their (prospective) dentist explaining their fears and/or saying what would help them.

You've been through so much, I really hope you'll be able to find a really nice dentist (and dental team) :grouphug:
I agree with Letsconnect. There's no way the cords should have been painful - it should all have been completely numb. Find a different dentist to complete the work. The astringent shouldn't have been an issue either - sounds like there was way too much of it.
You could maybe look for a CEREC dentist as they have a way of avoiding impressions sometimes but I think it was their awful technique and attitude that made it unbearable for you rather than the impressions per se.

Look for an experienced dentist in their own practice so they give a damn about repeat business. It usually makes the likelihood of a decent experience much greater. Find yourself a dentist you like as a person who you can trust to be kind, competent and who will build up your positive dental experiences.

See here for more abuse survivor tips:

To make myself even clearer...it was not your fault at all...it was theirs...I would not have enjoyed that kind of treatment and would have walked out at unnecessary pain (I like to think), you just need a better dentist who will work with you instead of against you. Yes, there are better ways to spend time than at the dentist's but it shouldn't be a horrendous ordeal.
Last edited: