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Is it possible to overcome this Phobia?

S

SallyUK

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 3, 2011
Messages
294
I am thinking about this today. I have always had negative and fearful associations with dental work, well my teeth really. It's complex and feeds into and from other anxiety I experience.

Over the years I have had a phobia and sometimes not so much but overall there is fear associated with dental work. I never feel 'safe' and at ease. I feel ok when I get an 'all clear' but there's always fear still. What next....

Maybe it's because I do have lots of restorations and compromised teeth, that I do have a real risk of dentures. Which symbolises to me so many negatives (that might not be realistic) The uncertainty of downhill from here is ongoing ,... would really love to not give so much anxiety to it all and just let things happen. Let my dental team guide me, fix things etc or even see that it's not all downhill.... that's the impression I have

But I just can't seem to imagine ever coming to terms with the situation or seeing it differently, although I still hope I will.

The thing I find hardest is that I never get to a place of confidence. Unlike other scary things in life, where you feel accomplishment and fear reduces. (I've done it with spiders) Is a phobia something that basically never gives back andvus akways a fear lurking? Something that it's hard to see the benefit of overcoming? I tend to think I am in real danger all the time, that every single thing about my teeth is bad and dangerous! Purely because I hardly ever have a gap from treatment. (Mainly repairing restorations and replacements) I literally spend a lot of time, money and energy on dental care and it all has a negative connotation. Writing makes me realise that I feel a lot of resentment as well as fear. I have to buy into the situation in order to maintain what I can but to be honest I find it hard.

I know that all my cleaning and repairs are preventing more issues but I struggle to feel anything positive. Just an endurance of fear and having to do something.

Lately it's effected other areas of my life and knocks my confidence to achieve other things. I'd much rather be challenging a fear that resulted in more progress.

If anyone has managed to put their phobia and dental situation into a good place despite still having to have treatment, I'd love to hear your experience.

I do try to be positive but deep down I'm not. I'm never going to feel great about my teeth. Maybe that's where my shift lies, lower expectations and acknowledging I feel angry about it. Beyond my control. Perhaps then I can be at peace and focus on other things. I still hold the belief that having issues is 'bad' and dentists and others want positive, healthy teeth and not a mountain of issues.
 
Last edited:
Enarete

Enarete

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 18, 2017
Messages
2,794
Dear Sally,

I had read your post quite soon after you had written it and believe it or not, I have been thinking about it all the time, collecting thoughts, wanting to comment and then again not, playing it over and over in my head, thinking I had the answer and then understanding I don't.. what you are asking in the subject line of this sounds like a very simple question, but it is not..

Dental fear/phobia/anxiety might seem like a pretty straight forward subject however it is much more complex. We currently have 22 listed topics in the common fears section here on the site and the list still doesn't cover it all. Reading around you will find that there are still other fears and other backgrounds and that everyone is different. This is what I believe makes it all so complex.

Anxieties and mental issues as such are interconnected. They appear and are nurtured by a range of reasons and they are influenced by a lot of factors. Also there are days when the fear is more or less overwhelming. If you look closer at a dental visit, even there you will find that your inner state changes from moment to moment depending on what is happening.

Fear of dentistry means something different for everyone. Dental treatment has many forms, there are people involved, different situations, different environments and different conditions. There is no such thing as 'the dental treatment' that either scares you or not. That's a difference to, for example fear of insects. Also unless you live in the wilderness, it might be unlikely for you to have to encounter these animals every few weeks and on the regular basis.

Another aspects which you mentioned is the range of emotions connected to dealing with dental health and dentistry. It's not simply about fear, it's about regret, resentment, sadness, embarrassment, maybe anger or desperation. We experience a lot of them on a daily basis anyway. And since we are talking about emotions, it's hard to beat them with logic. So while we all know it's good to get our teeth fixed and checked, this logical conclusion doesn't have too much of an effect on the most emotional moments of dealing with the fear.

I am sorry to read that this effects other areas of your life as well and even more that you believe to never going to feel great about your teeth. I believe this is the voice of fear telling this to you and I really hope it's not true.

I might be wrong but I don't think anyone feels at ease at a dentist. I believe we are wired to feel uncomfortable when being lied down and having people work in our mouth, any thing else doesn't make sense. If a normal confident person gets nervous before giving a speech or meeting new people or having a job interview how could someone feel completely at ease during a treatment.

For my part, I found out what helps me to ease my anxiety and it's a lot of open communication with my dentist, voicing my fears, knowing what is planned in advance to get used to the thought and also some mental techniques I use to be able to cope better. I can see a lot of progress and I can live with the parts that do not work well. If I ever come to a conclusion that I am not happy enough with how things go, I would look for a therapy that can take care of it. Dental phobia is not just the business of dentistry but also of psychology and there are plenty of approaches out there to address the psychological part. In my ideal world dentists and therapists work hand in hand to take the best care of nervous patients.
So if you feel like not being at a place you would like to be, looking for things that could help might be helpful. On the other side, it's important to be kind to ourselves and everyone has deep moments sometimes so maybe this is just one of those for you.

All the best wishes and let us know your thoughts. :grouphug:
 
M

MountainMama

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 1, 2018
Messages
2,209
SallyUK, you know you and I are in a similar situation where we feel as if one fire starts as soon as another gets put out. I feel the same way you do about never feeling good about my teeth. I will always have the anxiety of worrying about what happens next.
It has also affected other areas of my life so I understand that too. It is really hard for people who do not have dental issues (or only have minor issues that get fixed easily) to understand what a toll it takes on you, physically and mentally.

I really hope you can get to a positive place and get a break in dental work, and get the infection out!
 
krlovesherkids777

krlovesherkids777

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 26, 2017
Messages
2,927
Location
Minneapolis, MN
Sallyuk.

First of all I just love all what Enarete says about it being a little more complex and so many factors this is sooo true, I totally second this.. Enarete, you say all of this so well it could be another resource page for this very question. Thank you!

I feel too there is always some level of anxiety. no matter what it is.. I thought with my last dentist I had reached a really good point, which I did on some levels. I really trusted him. It seems we get over one fear hurdle but still have other fear hurdles to jump. and new things coming.

I have talked to my psychologist a bit about my dental fear and he explained to me about the anxiety in general there is Frequency, Intensity and Duration.. so I also think of this in terms of my dental anxieties and now I can say that I am anxious less often , and when I know a dentist it is less of an intensity with trust built but I might have some anxiety and how long it lasts.. sometimes it doesn't last long while other times it does. He also said same as Enarete that going to the dentist is a very natural anxiety producing situation and may always have some level of anxiety its how you do little things to help yourself through it like breathing and focus and communicating needs and making sure you are getting compassionate kind care.

I so hear you too on never having a break from dental issues and just wanting to feel you have overcome something and then something else come up.. I know for me I want to be proactive I do something to help my tooth they end up finding challenges and it just makes me feel so icky and discouraged and ashamed of my teeth. agh..and it also takes time because of money I just can't do everything right away so I have to spread it out money wise . and some people might comment." You are going to the dentist again? aren't your dental issues almost done?"

I keep my dental life to DFC and a few close friends as it seems most just don't understand or want to talk dental but that is ok :) DFC is here. Sorry I sound a bit scattered, I wanted to answer , your post is so real.

Just hoping for more growth , and peace and less troubles and anxieties for all of us :)..
 
kitkat

kitkat

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Mar 27, 2006
Messages
1,583
Location
United States
Hi SallyUK,
I can relate to you in being afraid of dentistry for as long as I can remember. I have no memory of not being afraid of dentistry. From what I’ve been told by my mother, I think I was traumatized at an age when I was too young to recall the experience and that conditioned my mind in a bad way to fear all things dentist-related for the rest of my life. Over the years, there were more negative experiences to feed my fear but nothing major that I can recall-it was too late though, the majority of the psychological damage was already done. I’ve been working with my current dentist trying to repair that damage for the past 15 years and I’ve made great strides. There was a time when my heart would just race and pound out of my chest the entire time and sometimes I’d get physically sick to my stomach days before an appointment or I’d lose sleep or I’d visibly shake uncontrollably. I still have my moments where my anxiety gets the best of me but the majority of the time I would say that I am only slightly more nervous than the average person and I am usually more nervous at the start of appointment and feel pretty Normal/relaxed by the time I leave the office. I have been able to see specialists unfamiliar to me for care without sedation which I consider a huge personal success.

It is hard to feel positive about something that needs constant attention, maintenance, and repair like teeth. I used to get quite angry with myself for being nervous or fearful (and sometimes I still do) but over the years I have realized that I can’t force myself to feel a certain way about something and as long as I am not avoiding treatment, I am winning. I used to yearn for that moment when I could say “I am cured!”. I think some people have those moments (or claim to) but I don’t think I will and I think it probably is quite rare due to the complexity of this phobia. I think I will always have good days and bad days and triggers that set me off but I don’t judge it ...I’ve just sort of accepted it and I remind myself to be extra kind to myself during those times and do everything I can in terms of self-care to minimize my stress. It has gotten easier overall but it has certainly not been a quick fix...it’s been very slow going with many ups and downs over the years.
 
Dr. Daniel

Dr. Daniel

Well-known member
Verified dentist
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
1,894
Location
The Hague , Holland
Hi SallyUK,
I can relate to you in being afraid of dentistry for as long as I can remember. I have no memory of not being afraid of dentistry. From what I’ve been told by my mother, I think I was traumatized at an age when I was too young to recall the experience and that conditioned my mind in a bad way to fear all things dentist-related for the rest of my life. Over the years, there were more negative experiences to feed my fear but nothing major that I can recall-it was too late though, the majority of the psychological damage was already done. I’ve been working with my current dentist trying to repair that damage for the past 15 years and I’ve made great strides. There was a time when my heart would just race and pound out of my chest the entire time and sometimes I’d get physically sick to my stomach days before an appointment or I’d lose sleep or I’d visibly shake uncontrollably. I still have my moments where my anxiety gets the best of me but the majority of the time I would say that I am only slightly more nervous than the average person and I am usually more nervous at the start of appointment and feel pretty Normal/relaxed by the time I leave the office. I have been able to see specialists unfamiliar to me for care without sedation which I consider a huge personal success.

It is hard to feel positive about something that needs constant attention, maintenance, and repair like teeth. I used to get quite angry with myself for being nervous or fearful (and sometimes I still do) but over the years I have realized that I can’t force myself to feel a certain way about something and as long as I am not avoiding treatment, I am winning. I used to yearn for that moment when I could say “I am cured!”. I think some people have those moments (or claim to) but I don’t think I will and I think it probably is quite rare due to the complexity of this phobia. I think I will always have good days and bad days and triggers that set me off but I don’t judge it ...I’ve just sort of accepted it and I remind myself to be extra kind to myself during those times and do everything I can in terms of self-care to minimize my stress. It has gotten easier overall but it has certainly not been a quick fix...it’s been very slow going with many ups and downs over the years.
Hi,

Thank you for sharing with us your story. I think you did amazing and hope your quality of life improved after all the treatments you had.
From my experience as a dentist: most of my patients feel a huge improvement at the waiting/anticipating period before the treatment but they do feel some moderate anxiety during the treatment itself.
I think that one should expect some anxiety to remain. You managed to overcome the avoidance and get treated, even by various dentists.
I would recommend paying attention to another aspect: not letting the anxiety be too high to the degree you suffer from it or pay an emotional price to it.
Please allow me to finish by referring you to a video in which I talk about this.
 
S

Scared all the time

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 21, 2019
Messages
337
Location
NJ
I am thinking about this today. I have always had negative and fearful associations with dental work, well my teeth really. It's complex and feeds into and from other anxiety I experience.

Over the years I have had a phobia and sometimes not so much but overall there is fear associated with dental work. I never feel 'safe' and at ease. I feel ok when I get an 'all clear' but there's always fear still. What next....

Maybe it's because I do have lots of restorations and compromised teeth, that I do have a real risk of dentures. Which symbolises to me so many negatives (that might not be realistic) The uncertainty of downhill from here is ongoing ,... would really love to not give so much anxiety to it all and just let things happen. Let my dental team guide me, fix things etc or even see that it's not all downhill.... that's the impression I have

But I just can't seem to imagine ever coming to terms with the situation or seeing it differently, although I still hope I will.

The thing I find hardest is that I never get to a place of confidence. Unlike other scary things in life, where you feel accomplishment and fear reduces. (I've done it with spiders) Is a phobia something that basically never gives back andvus akways a fear lurking? Something that it's hard to see the benefit of overcoming? I tend to think I am in real danger all the time, that every single thing about my teeth is bad and dangerous! Purely because I hardly ever have a gap from treatment. (Mainly repairing restorations and replacements) I literally spend a lot of time, money and energy on dental care and it all has a negative connotation. Writing makes me realise that I feel a lot of resentment as well as fear. I have to buy into the situation in order to maintain what I can but to be honest I find it hard.

I know that all my cleaning and repairs are preventing more issues but I struggle to feel anything positive. Just an endurance of fear and having to do something.

Lately it's effected other areas of my life and knocks my confidence to achieve other things. I'd much rather be challenging a fear that resulted in more progress.

If anyone has managed to put their phobia and dental situation into a good place despite still having to have treatment, I'd love to hear your experience.

I do try to be positive but deep down I'm not. I'm never going to feel great about my teeth. Maybe that's where my shift lies, lower expectations and acknowledging I feel angry about it. Beyond my control. Perhaps then I can be at peace and focus on other things. I still hold the belief that having issues is 'bad' and dentists and others want positive, healthy teeth and not a mountain of issues.
This hits home for me in many ways. I never had medical issues nor dental until about 4 years ago when I have an ovarian cancer scare. I had a large painful cyst I had to push for drs to acknowledge then after fighting them and they pursued it they terrified me with possible thought of cancer. Surgery was done and I was given the all clear but by that time my anxiety hit the roof and was stuck there. Since then my life has changed and I feel the same way as you do. Never safe and what’s going to happen next. Horrible place to be. Then 7 months after surgery my hair started falling and now I had a new terrifying issue. Then came the tooth. The one thing I fear most all my life. What I’m staying for me I never feared a thing until 5 years ago. Once the body gets stuck in flight mode is so hard to get out and feel at ease and safe like a normal person in situations like ours I am working on controlling my anxiety daily but it’s not easy and I hope one day we all can find a way to master control of it. I too try and stay positive but deep down just feel resentful and doomed.i seem to go from one anxiety issue to another. Now it’s my teeth 😕
 
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