• 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.

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It's been a long road, getting here



Junior member
Nov 15, 2007
My story -- at least my recent story -- isn't far from others here.

I'm in my mid-40s and have been terrified of the notion of going to the dentist for years. Mind you, both my older kids had root canals -- one in their pre-teens, the other was even younger. My daughter's was because she had fallen and broken a tooth. She was around 5 or 6 at the time. My son was 11, and needed to have his done to get things in order for his braces. And yes, both of them had braces. And finally, (back to my daughter) she had oral surgery to have her wisdom teeth removed (she's a sophomore in college now).

Despite all of that, I would refuse to go. Before this year, I had only been able to even sit in the chair twice in the past 25+ years. In the early 90s, my wife got me to go to a doctor who did a precursory exam, then began talking about a root canal. Needless to say, I hopped outta the chair and didn't look back.

Then, about seven or eight years ago, my kids' dentist got me to sit down long enough for her to look in my mouth. She said I needed root planing -- which scared me again. Mind you, while sitting in the chair that time in the kids' doctor's office, I had the sweats, and trembled like a leaf.

Fast forward to this past spring. My younger brother had suffered a massive stroke over the winter, which forced me to reevaulate my life and my health. That also got me to go ahead and make an appointment to go to the dentist.

Dr. Rhodes was very gentile in her examination, first using an orbital x-ray machine on me -- which being a techie, was fascinating to me. Then her hygenist used a probe to go between each tooth, which was more than a bit unnerving (my knuckles were white from gripping the chair), but bearable. After her exam, she told me that I needed some significant work done, and referred me to a periodontist.

Dr. Russell (the periodontist) was very patient and gentile. She did the same sort of probe exam that Dr. Rhodes did, but noted my shaking. She asked me if I had issues, and of course I replied in the affirmative.

She scheduled my appointment, and explained to me what would happen. She prescribed valium and adavant (I think that was the right spelling) to be taken the night before and morning of the procedure. When I came in that morning and sat in the chair, I did not drift off. My eyes were glued to Dr. Russell aside the reclined chair. After awhile (and after plenty of gas over my nose), when she saw I wasn't driting off, she decided she couldn't wait too much longer and that she had to dive in.

She had me to close my eyes. Things got pretty much blurry after that -- at least as far as I can remember. My wife (who sat in the lobby through this) said I shrieked bloody murder throughout the entire procedure -- to the point that at least two other clients got up and left the office. The doctor and her staff could not believe I was crying like that (mind you, I'm a big guy -- not quite gridiron-sized, but big enough - 6'4" and on the high side of 280 pounds), and told my wife that she was certain I was numb. Dr. Russell asked if she could scale both sides, fearing that I wouldn't want to come back, given my inexplicable reaction.

Talking to my sister later revealed the real source of my phobia and my reaction: when I was 4, I had my tonsils out. Not a major thing. But I had complications afterward that had me hospitalized for a few days. At one point, the doctor needed to get to my tonsils, or my throat or something. In any event, he had my mom to hold my head, and my dad to hold my legs while he went to work.

I have no recollection of that in any way, shape or form (heck! it was 40 years ago!) But it obviously lends itself to my fears regarding my mouth and of the dental experience overall.

Dr. Russell said that she found that I needed full-fledged oral surgery, including bone grafting. The description has terrified me to the n'th degree. The first of two surgeries will be in early December, the second in January (I'm doing it that way to spread the work across the two benefit years for our insurance).

I spoke to the doctor's assistant yesterday. She said they are going to prescribe the adavant and valium for me for prior to the surgery, plus pain medication and antibiotics for the post-surgery. They are going to have an IV in my arm and completely sedate me (as much for their peace of mind as mine, I'm sure). But in any event, I'm still as skittish as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

I can certainly use some reassurance.
Well you've come to the right place for reassurance and support. There are so very many of us with similar stories. Its like one big family here because we all share a common fear and in some cases, a lot more fears as well. Some of us haven't been to a dentist for just a few years, for some of us it's been a lot longer - for me personally it was at the latter end of the scale.
I think it's good that you have been able to identify where your fear stemmed from but of course, knowing, doesn't really mean that instantly you're cured of that fear.
However you've already come a long, long way because you've actually made it for the consultations and know exactly what's ahead of you.
Now what we've got to do is get you through that.
You say you're going to have IV sedation - that's good.
You don't say whether you have a fear of needles or not. In my case, apart from dental phobia I had a great phobia of needles. Never understood why because I have a high pain threshold, but its just the sight of that needle - its a family thing we're all the same.
Anyhow, I recently had IVsedation for tooth extraction. Was doubly scared, of having the teeth out and of the sedation. I had valium beforehand which took the edge off the nerves, even so still shaking with terror but....had numbing gel on my arm then the sedationist put the needle in, hardly felt it, hooked up the IV and in a few seconds what completely out, waking up seemingly seconds later, but an hour had passed, teeth out, hadnt felt a single thing, just how I wanted it.
Some people say that with IV they are aware of what's going on but don't care. I had told the sedationist and dentist before that I didn't even want to be aware I wanted to be completely out and this is the way it worked for me Because of the level of my terror, they had given me very deep sedation as I had wanted, almost to GA level.
So discuss with your sedationist how deep you want to go, possibly you need only light sedation, but although I like to be in control, in this instance, I trusted my professionals and wanted to leave it entirely to them.
Good luck to you, please keep us posted on progress and keep reading the various succes stories and journals. It really does help.
I've always thought of myself as having a low pain threshold, but a year ago, I had surgery on my hand to remove a tumor at the base of my pinky. I asked them to knock me out -- they put me in twilight (I was really nervous then as well) and took care of it in no time.

I can't tell you why this seems to scare me more than that did. There was no hesitation with that -- the microsurgeon took a look at my hand, said I needed surgery to remove it. My response was "Okay, how soon can we do it?"

Here, I'm just plain scared. It could be the description, I dunno. From what I know now (mind you, my wife has more of a handle on this than I do, thanks to being in twilight, albeit screaming twilight, last time), they've asked a second doctor to come in and handle the IV, and to put me out (to the tune of $250 for the first half-hour and $75 for every 15 minutes after that). My appointment is for 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday the 11th of next month. I'm supposed to take a valium when I get home the night before (but no food after midnight) -- I get home from work around 1 a.m., so that shouldn't be too hard. A second valium gets popped just before we leave in the morning. The ride is about a half-hour or so, so I should be in La-La Land before I get there, but if it's like before, I'll still be relatively alert. Feh.