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i'm not afraid of dentists - i'm terrified of medications.



May 4, 2023
united states
the title says it all. i have had dental check-ups in the past, braces, fillings and even extractions. but i haven't been to a dentist in over 12 years now due to my severe fear of medications. i have yet to find anyone like me. i haven't had any kind of medications, prescribed or over the counter in 12 years. TWELVE years. not even a tylenol, advil.....you name it.

so i am not scared of the dentist. not really. but i am terrified of the numbing shot they give. and i know they'll need to use that on me. i have several teeth that need to be extracted. i am also afraid of the gas they use sometimes. anesthetic. i don't take ANY medications, and curious if there's something that can be done for a person like me.

about 60% of my teeth are wobbly and can be easily moved. i have lost a few teeth that have caused my other teeth to move.

while i was waiting admin approval to be able to post to this site, i was looking at all the before and after pictures posted here of people with their success stories. and i bawled my eyes out because i want this so much for myself. my teeth went downhill during the pandemic mostly and i don't know why. i brush, floss, etc. daily and always have.

what can be done for someone like me? right now, i am in excrutiating pain with a back molar that chipped and for two weeks i have been in agonizing pain. no infection, no redness or swelling - just extreme pain that i can no longer handle at 40 years old. it has caused me to just sit in my house - salt water rinses (which seem to make it worse), cold/warm compresses, the works. i cannot live like this anymore and i need help.
@fearfulteefies I have a slightly similar story that might be of use to you. I have two less typical dental fears too, fear of sedation (I am not afraid of local anesthesia) and fear of scamming/overtreatment/bad treatment. I ended up not seeing a dentist for 19 years. I realize now, looking back, during the 19 years, once I turned 18, I could have gone to the dentist and they actually would not have been able to do anything to me that I woudn't have wanted. They could have asked, but I could have said no, and I would have been able to have cleanings and any treatments that I actually would have been willing to have. I had gotten freaked out by continuous pressure to have my wisdom teeth out under sedation, mainly, and a scammy unnecessary braces treatment gone wrong. When I first went back to the dentist, (I chose one who advertised herself as welcoming people who hadn't been for a long time), what happened is I was able to have cleanings and the procedure I was willing to have (fillings) but I refused to do anything else. There were some upsetting conversations and arguments about my wisdom teeth and another dying tooth, but no one was able to force me to do anything. Maybe a possible option for you would be to go to a dentist and just do what you are willing to do, i.e. treatment or cleaning that can be done without medication. Just tell them at the first checkup that is what you want, and ask if they can do it. What happened to me as time went on is it finally became necessary for me to have some extractions, and as usual I was being pushed to see an oral surgeon and be sedated, so I shopped around again and found a dentist who was willing to do what I needed done without sedation. He clearly thought it was unusual and wasn't that into it, but I explained to him in detail about my fear of sedation and he understood. Another thing that I ended up doing around this time was seeking some counseling for my issues, which turned out to be a common problem called "medical trauma". I used 7 Cups, which has affordable online counseling. You might be able to find an understanding dentist who would do what they can for you without medication, even cleaning usually helps, I think. Also, no one can force you to have medication, people can ask, or suggest, or pressure, but no one can actually make you do anything, as I learned. Hope this is useful to you.
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@NervousUSA thanks for your response. i don't know that there are any dentists that will extract a tooth/teeth without the assistance of medication, though.
@fearfulteefies My thought is even if extraction would be ideal, you might be able to get some treatment that would make you more comfortable, that isn't extraction, without medication.
@NervousUSA very true. i have to call monday. i am so grateful to not have any pain the last 24 hours (knock on wood) but i need to get my smile back. i am just hiding behind a mask at this point when masks are no longer being worn.
@fearfulteefies It's great to hear you didn't have pain for the last 24 hours, and you are thinking of calling the dentist on monday! I love your positive attitude about getting your smile back! I suggest you tell them openly about your fear of medication, the reason why is I really didn't get anywhere with my dental problems until I took the approach of telling the dentist right away that I am not willing to be sedated, and made myself really clear, they cannot do what you need them to do if they don't know your needs, especially for people like you or me where our fears are not the more common fears they will be dealing with a lot. In fact my experience is that dentists are often trained that a person who seems nervous wants or needs drugs, so until I made myself really clear I was getting the opposite reaction than what I wanted.
I used to have a really bad gag reflex, but if it was absolutely necessary to have impressions done, if I closed my eyes, pretended that I was somewhere else and concentrated on breathing really slowly, I could sometimes get through the procedure without spitting the tray out in panic. A dental assistant, at my last impression tray appointment, kept telling me to open my eyes. "Open your eyes! Keep them open!". Over and over, each time I tried to escape and close them. On the followup visit, I asked her why she had done that and she told me that she had learned that at dental assistant school. They had been told that nervous patients did better with impression trays if they could be distracted by the dental staff during the procedure. After I explained how things worked best for me, she thanked me and promised to let patients do what worked best for them in the future. I like to think that patients who followed in my footsteps at that practice, had a better time of it than I did.
@LittleLynnie that's wonderful, and thanks for sharing that story. i only hope that i am able to find a dental office, dentist and hygienist(s) who are just as kind. but i will back up what she said (for future reference) keeping your eyes open will help your gag reflux because i have the same issue. sometimes if you cross your eyes as well it helps. silly i know, but it works. the good thing is you found something that works for you. but just hearing about the impression tray makes me nervous because i know if i were to put my teeth into one of those things right now, 2-3 teeth would come out with it.
@NervousUSA you know....i live in a pretty decently sized city. and it's pretty well known where i am on the east coast. and the reviews for places i looked up here are horrific. i think that may be part of my issue. because now that i know i need to take the steps necessary to get my smile and teeth back, i don't want to trust just anyone with my mouth. just my luck, i would go somewhere and then have something happen because of work done. lost of horrible reviews for even the highest of recommended in a local group i am in (on facebook) where people had medical issues with the work that had been done on them.
In fact my experience is that dentists are often trained that a person who seems nervous wants or needs drugs, so until I made myself really clear I was getting the opposite reaction than what I wanted.

this is something one of my friends mentioned to me. she used to be in the dental field as a hygienist (but left the field during COVID because of how crazy everything got - she said it wasn't worth it after a while).. but that terrifies me to know that dentists (and other healthcare professionals) are legit trained to look out for that in someone. i guess i understand to an extent but if you're too busy looking for something like that in a person that's nervous, then you're overlooking the fact that they likely just want to get better.
@fearfulteefies I know exactly how you feel had a molar that was off and on pain keeped gargling with baking soda water/ then peroxide/water mix to the point where my insides on my mouth were so red but helped with pain and no infection, 2 weeks later found a dentist that prescribed 3 sedation sleeping pills that will take anxiety away..but of course googling about the pill call halcion weird side effects and what not made me more nervous than the procedure it self ..but I had to do it took 1st pill night before woke up 3am fully alert very with it not drozzy, took 2nd pill 1hr before dentist appointment which was for root canal btw, they were surprised I acted normal I guess my nerves really needed something so they gave me 3rd one 1hr later...the procedure was about 2hr felt really relaxed kinda dozed off but anxiety was gone...I never knew there were dentist for people like me that can prescribe medicine before you even get to appointment thank God for them..I survived and going back to to finish crown and bridge, do some research and trust me 90percent fear was of course all in my head !!! Good luck with everything
@fearfulteefies I also had many teeth that I suspected would fully dislodge during an impression episode, but the gag issue overshadowed that issue in a really big way. In my post above though, I say that I "used to" have a gag problem, and that's because I found a way to cure that. It was bad enough having to deal with it during dental visits, but when I got (and paid for!) a full upper denture and couldn't even put it in my mouth for more than a second or two, I knew that I had to find a way to remedy the situation. I was determined to find a way, so googled the issue and found about 20 different suggestions, some of which my dentists had also said to try. None worked until I came across one that made incredible common sense. What I did was brush my tongue sideways as far back as I could without gagging, and did that for 15 seconds twice a day. Each day, I was clearly getting further and further back, but I didn't try the denture in again until I hit the seven day mark (that had been recommended). When I put the denture in after that week of brushing, I had NO TROUBLE whatsoever! It went in and I've never gagged since! Love your name, by the way.
@fearfulteefies The former hygienist you know was trained to try and look for nervous people then offer them some kind of drug? That is scary. I think dentists think it will be easier for them, it is another thing that they can charge for (one dentist who was pressing me for it wanted to charge $1000) and a lot of patients do want it. It can be really hard for them to understand when someone doesn't, at one dentist that I had to quit, she basically just told me that everyone wants it and put it on my treatment plan after I said no. One thing I have noticed is often the role of hygienists is to encourage people to get treatments of all kinds and sell treatments, so maybe it is part of what your friend was telling you. Basically though, the solution is to nip that kind of thing in the bud by being explicit right away if you aren't willing to do something. The dentist I am at now listened to me about what I require, and did as I wish, possibly because I was very firm and explicit about what I won't do and why when I first went there. If he had said no to my requests I would have gone somewhere else and he knew it. I'm sorry to hear you are seeing a lot of badly reviewed dentists in your area. Might it be worth traveling to find a better one? Have you tried google reviews, yelp, and the dentists list on this website? Could your hygienist friend help you find someone? Another thing with dentists, you can always try a few, if you go to a bad dentist you don't have to stay with them, or let them treat you.
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@zalnatasha i think it's admirable you were able to take medication, but sadly that just isn't going to be something i am willing to do. i don't mean any harm in saying that - i just know myself and i will literally seize up and run out of the office if they tell me i have to take a pill to do anything.
@LittleLynnie happy for you! did you suffer with a lot of teeth that were loose? i am dealing with it horribly right now. i have 4-5 teeth right now that could likely come out with ease if i tried. one of them i know is going to come out in the next day or so. i hate being this way.
@NervousUSA the friend i have who lived here said this to me when she was a hygienist that it seemed like there were a lot of people who claimed to be nervous that would get medication for before their appointment, get it and never come in for their appointment but their medication was filled and picked up. so yes, it feels as though they're trained a certain way as you said above. it appears they have to given the track record of some (not all).
@LittleLynnie happy for you! did you suffer with a lot of teeth that were loose? i am dealing with it horribly right now. i have 4-5 teeth right now that could likely come out with ease if i tried. one of them i know is going to come out in the next day or so. i hate being this way.
Yes, probably at least 6 or 7. It is a horrible way to live. I have to admit that I'm glad that I have dentures now and don't have very many dental issues left.
@LittleLynnie not sure why, but dentures scare me. I’ve heard it can “mess with you” mentally when you have all your teeth pulled. Did this happen with you?

I don’t believe (or hope?) I would need dentures. Not a full set anyway. Most likely a partial. It’s getting hard to eat these days. When I do eat, I have to lean my head to the side just to avoid the one side that gave me so much pain the last couple weeks. I’m terrified of that pain coming back. I’ll attach a picture of my teeth here. Please no judgement.

The weirdest part for me is that it all appears to be on one side. My gums are bad on both sides but my teeth are truly bad mainly on one side. And that’s the side I sleep on and I’m a hard sleeper. Not saying or using that as an excuse, just curious if that could cause the shifting and issues focusing on the one side.


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@fearfulteefies My problems are all on one side too. I think it is to do with natural asymetry of the body. I notice that in my case, on the side with problem teeth, that side of my face is a little smaller and less developed and this includes the bone/gums that holds my teeth. I suspect when making my teeth look symetrical braces forced my teeth into areas without enough gum/bone to support them on that side too. One thing about dentures, in the not so recent past, just about everyone ended up with them, three of my grandparents had them, for example, and it was considered no big deal that people would have them.
@NervousUSA yeah, dentures seem to be the ideal for a lot of people these days. I’m hearing some horror stories on implants and root canals, though. One of our old neighbors currently is gearing up for her third surgery due to her jaw being fractured (crumbled is more like it) from an implant. She found out a few days before thanksgiving.

My father has dentures. He was in his early 40’s when he finally just had them all taken out. My mother, although I don’t know much about her, has bad teeth as well according to my half sisters adopted family. My grandfather and grandmother (fathers side) is who helped raise me due to my father being a single dad - and they have had thousands upon thousands upon THOUSANDS of work done in their mouths. Back when they were financially sound, it wasn’t an issue for them to go to the dentist and drop a couple grand. But my grandfather recently got over that and had his all taken out as well. Seems to be a resounding issue in my family - bad teeth.