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I tried to deal with my dental phobia but I feel like I’m failing.

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Gollygosh

Junior member
Joined
May 19, 2021
Messages
4
Location
Australia
For me trying to deal with the phobia began when my health anxiety surrounding a failed root canal I had became too great to ignore. I found a phobia friendly dentist and mustered up the courage to go. They told me the same thing I’d been told years earlier, I needed a repeat root canal performed by an endodontist. The idea of needing to see another dentist and sitting through that long of a procedure overwhelmed me entirely so I asked about extraction as an alternative. They tried to persuade me against it but I knew deep down it was what I wanted. I was too afraid if I did get a repeat root canal that it would fail again, or that I wouldn’t be able to get myself to go through all the stages of treatment. I didn’t go back in true phobic fashion until my problem tooth cracked and I could no longer chew on it without a stabbing sensation. I was absolutely terrified but I knew I couldn’t just leave it broken and wiggling in my mouth. My dentist was fantastic and empathetic about it and scheduled me in to have it removed no questioned ask.
This is where things start to get worse for me. I managed to make it in but the process of getting it pulled was pretty awful if I’m honest. I don’t know what specifically went wrong but what I was told would take 15 minutes took 40-50. My dentist also seemed to largely ignore that there was a person attached to the mouth during the extraction. I don’t think this is how they usually treat patients, I think that it was just my tooth was much more difficult than they’d anticipated to remove and they were trying to focus on getting it done, but none the less I started to feel very out of control. At one point my cheek was nicked by one of the tools which hurt, but I didn’t feel like I could speak up about it. They did notice what had happened themselves at one point and placed a sort of guard in my mouth to prevent it from happening again, but that just made me feel like I was choking, and for me that was worse than being nicked by the tool in the first place. We hadn’t agreed on a signal that meant stop and even if we had I don’t know if I would’ve felt comfortable using it. Another issue I was having was with holding my jaw open, I have a really tight and sometimes problematic tmj and so keeping my mouth held open started becoming difficult but again, I felt like I had no space to try and voice this to them.

By the end I was starting to feel some twinges of pain as stitches where being placed, and the pain only worsened from there. (I don’t know if this is normal or whether the anesthetic wore off too quickly, so might post a seperate question about it somewhere) By the time I got home I was in agony. The pain only got worse and by night and I was struggling to sleep. By day three I’d tried to contact an emergency dentist for an appointment as my dentist was on vacation, but the pain was making my dental fear even worse and I was scared of seeing a new dentist at a practice I wasn’t familiar with, so I just ended up trying to deal with it alone. I woke up every night crying from the pain for about a week and was taking both paracetamol and ibuprofen every four hours. We had left over OxyContin in the house from a past surgery and so I tried taking that as well, but it did absolutely nothing for the pain. I believe I might have developed an infection because of the stitches which could’ve been the source of my extreme pain? (TMI but there was a glob of yellow gunk stuck to the stitches that I had to clean off, and after that the pain seemed to slowly get better) Or maybe it was dry socket?
Anyway I feel as though this experience has set me back even further with my fear, and I haven’t gone back since the extraction (which has thankfully healed normally, for the most part.) which was about six months ago now.
So of course now would be the perfect time for another molar to be causing me issues. I have a small abscess on my gums over the root of a tooth, and it’s been sensitive when I bite down for a few months or so on and off, and I know from experience an abscess on the gums over the root generally means a root canal or extraction, and I just don’t know how I’m ever going to face a root canal or an extraction or even a dentist again after all this. So many fears keep circulating in my head like, what if I can’t keep my jaw open again, or what if I end up in agony again or what if, what if, what if. I’m terrified.
 
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lleigh26

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 12, 2017
Messages
117
Hi Gollygosh

I’m So Sorry You Have Had To Experience All What You Went Through.. It Sounds Like It Was Awful!! I Understand Your Fears Because I Have Been There In Some Similar Circumstances.. I Think The Best Way To Deal With Things That You Fear Is To Find A Dentist That You Can Trust.. I Know This Is Hard But It Could Help To Maybe Contact People You Know.. & See Who They Might Recommend..? I Hope This Helps.. ? xx
 
Enarete

Enarete

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 18, 2017
Messages
3,220
Hi Gollygosh :welcome:,

your past experience sounds so traumatic, you would have to be a piece of stone to be able to go back after that. Wow. It looks like everything that possibly can go wrong during a treatment, did - you felt entirely out of control, the dentist and staff seemed not to care, you experienced choking sensations, was hurt, had no stop signal (even more loss of control), felt frozen by fear, had pain during the treatment and was in agony afterwards and left alone with it as your dentist was on a vacation. Considering that any situation with pain, loss of control, helplessness and intense fear can be labeled as trauma, I see how you don't see yourself being able to get back. Do you have any plan about how to tackle the tooth that is bothering you now?
 
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Gollygosh

Junior member
Joined
May 19, 2021
Messages
4
Location
Australia
Hi Gollygosh :welcome:,

your past experience sounds so traumatic, you would have to be a piece of stone to be able to go back after that. Wow. It looks like everything that possibly can go wrong during a treatment, did - you felt entirely out of control, the dentist and staff seemed not to care, you experienced choking sensations, was hurt, had no stop signal (even more loss of control), felt frozen by fear, had pain during the treatment and was in agony afterwards and left alone with it as your dentist was on a vacation. Considering that any situation with pain, loss of control, helplessness and intense fear can be labeled as trauma, I see how you don't see yourself being able to get back. Do you have any plan about how to tackle the tooth that is bothering you now?
It really was a less than ideal situation, and it’s such a shame it happened the way it did because she seems to have had so much success with other phobic patients in the past. I’m in two minds about it. Part of me wants to start from scratch with a different dentist, but I also really don’t want the added stress of needing to meet a new dentist and familiarise myself with them and their practice etc. The other part of me just wants to get it over and done with as soon as possible and seeing the dentist that preformed my extraction would be easier in that regard as she has X-rays etc from previous appointments. And then of course there’s that voice of the back of my head saying “just wait a few weeks you don’t have to deal with it now” but I know a few weeks will turn into months etc until it gets so bad I don’t have any other option but to go. It’s just so difficult.
 
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