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Less than 4 days til I go for the first time in years.... really nervous, please read and reply

K

kittykat

Former Member
Less than 4 days til I go for the first time in years.... really nervous, please read and reply

Hi I'm new here, but have been reading the forum for about a month without registering or posting

I finally decided to make an appointment after not going for about 4 years, which isn't that long compared to what I've been reading, but I'm still very nervous about going back.

Here's my story:

I'm 18 and I've been terrified of going ever since I had a really bad experience about 4 years ago. I live in the US and not sure how things work in other countries, but my dad was out of a job at the time and I was on insurance that limited my options of going to a good dentist, which is probably the reason why I had such an awful experience. I went to one of those "chain dentist offices" where they have a whole bunch of them, and I guess it's cheaper, because that's the only place my sh*tty insurance would let me go to. It troubled me that every time I went there I saw a different dentist. I couldn't build a trust with anyone. I guess they just assumed that because I was a kid it didn't matter or something, but it had a huge impact on me. For some reason, they never talked to me about what they were going to do and just talked to my mom and I had no idea why something was happening. That was probably because I was so young and they assumed I couldn't make decisions for myself, but it made me feel like I had no control over anything. I didn't go for 3 years after I got my braces off (I vowed I'd never go back after they all treated me like I was dirt and had a lot of experiences with them dropping bits of wire in my mouth, and cleaning my teeth so roughly that I actually cried!!!) and my parents were totally oblivious that I hadn't gone, and then my mom finally noticed last summer. I told her I would never ever go back because of the way I was treated there (all of them acted like they had no idea what they were doing!!) and she made an appointment with her dentist. Well, I managed to make up an excuse for why I couldn't go to any of the appointments she made and my mom got mad at me.

I don't think she understood that I had serious trust issues and was very scared, because when I told her I was scared and that I was scarred for life after she sent me to an incompetent dentist for all those years, she just told me to "get over it" and to "stop being a baby." Then, she called the dentist and asked if I could just go meet her and see her office. I went with my mom to go meet her and when we got there, she was busy, so I met her assistant instead. The assistant acted really rude towards me and like we were wasting her time. When we finally met the dentist, she yelled at me for not going in so long and after we made small talk and I told her I was going to nursing school, she said "Then why are you scared of going to the dentist? It's the same thing." Actually, I don't think it's the same thing at all. The hospital setting is way different than a dentist office in regards to sounds, sights, and smells. Also, doing a procedure is way easier than having something done to you. Meeting this dentist only made me more nervous and they forced me right then and there to set up an appointment that I couldn't back out of. I didn't want to be rude and tell them I thought they were mean b*tches because my mom was right there, so I made an appointment and then thought of excuses that I could use to cancel at the last second.

Luckily, I managed to keep making excuses and eventually, the dentist said I couldn't ever go to her because of all the times I cancelled. I was so happy that I would never have to see or hear of that awful woman ever again.

About a year after that, my mom kept bringing up every chance she could about how I really needed to go and that my teeth were all going to fall out. She even publicly humiliated me about my fears while at dinner with one of her co-workers who I really admire. He even laughed at me and I can't even look at him anymore now that he knows my biggest fear. It's weird because my mom is usually a very caring and understanding person, but I guess she just can't sympathize with my fears because she's not scared. Because of this, I worried that I would never find a dentist that would understand what I was going through.

My dad got a new, great job this year with a Japanese company that gave us a Cadillac health insurance plan, which means I can go to any dentist I want now. I looked online for a dentist once I had decided that I really should go, and found something called a "dental spa" which sounds promising. I looked on their website and it seemed like the perfect place to go for "scardey cats" like me. They offer warm blankets, TV you can watch during procedures, noise-cancelling headphones, and even massages :o I decided to check them out and emailed them to see if I could visit (Emailed, because talking to people is scary, and talking to dentists is even scarier) and I went to go see their office.

It was really nice and relaxing and all of the people there were so nice (and all the girls were very beautiful!) and I actually decided to make an appointment with them. I didn't get to meet the dentist, as he was busy, but I was impressed just by seeing the office and meeting all the hygenists. I emailed them a few days later and asked them if I could talk with someone via email regarding my fears, and they told me I could. I then sent them a HUGE email about absolutely everything I could think of that scared me (from noises to being tipped back in the chair) and they replied, with a solution to everything I was concerned about.

That did make me feel more comfortable, but as the date approaches (July 10th!) I'm starting to go into panic mode and freaking out about all the usual stuff (what will they find, think of me, what if I cry, what if it hurts, ect.) but I'm hoping I'll have a positive experience and I think I will! They told me they would give me laughing gas, which I hope they remember, because I know I won't be able to talk to them when I get there! But then I also worry about what they'll think of me for needing laughing gas just for a check up...

Thanks for letting me vent. Does anyone have any experiences like mine?
 
carol999

carol999

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Re: Less than 4 days til I go for the first time in years.... really nervous, please read and reply

:welcome: KittyKat, I think we all have experiences like yours. I have tried explaining my fears to friends and they just dont get it, so dont concern yourself too much with that just talk to people who do 'get it'. The past 4 years what others see as cancellations you need to see as 'protecting yourself'. You have been hurt so didn't want to be hurt again, quite normal behaviour really if you think about it. I commend you for tackling this on your own and emailing the dental practice with all your concerns. I appreciate its a lonely place this fear that others cant understand, but you are here now and we do understand.:bear::bear::bear:You might want to print your email off and take it with you if you think you wont be able to talk when you go to your appt. Do you have a friend who might be compassionate and go with you? Sending loads of positive vibes your way. Keep posting you will find it helps:)
 
K

kittykat

Former Member
Re: Less than 4 days til I go for the first time in years.... really nervous, please read and reply

. Do you have a friend who might be compassionate and go with you?




Well, part of it is that I don't want anyone there, but I wish I did. Maybe I don't want anyone there because of shame and embarrassment... not really sure why I do and don't want to take a friend with me. It's hard to explain :redface:
 
FearfulInMA

FearfulInMA

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Re: Less than 4 days til I go for the first time in years.... really nervous, please read and reply

kittykat,

:welcome: and congrats for taking a HUGE first step. I, like you, had very little dental care as a child and also vowed to never go back as an adult. Four years ago I finally found a really great, caring dentist and have been going regularly ever since. I'm also like you in that I don't like anyone to go with me -- especially when I'm terrified. I think that I just need to have my sole focus on keeping myself calm -- I don't want to have to worry about how someone else is doing. I also don't usually feel like I can even make small talk when I'm in that state, so the thought of having someone else there is just too much for me. What I can do sometimes, is make plans to spend time with a friend afterwards -- that way I have something to look forward to after the appointment. If it's a good friend, it's also nice to be able to talk about how proud I am of myself for getting through a difficult appointment :). I also always tell myself that I'm an adult now (I've got quite a few years on you... so good for you for being so brave to get yourself to the dentist while you're still young!) and that nobody can force me to do anything. I remind myself that going to the dentist is something that I'm doing to take care of myself and that it's a positive thing (as much as I'm still terrified every time I go). Doing this now will hopefully keep your teeth in good condition so that you won't have to go through lots and lots of dental work to get your dental health in order. When I finally started going to the dentist at age 30, I needed 10 fillings and my wisdom teeth removed. I've since had a few more fillings, 2 root canals, and 2 crowns. I can't say for sure that this was all caused by so many years without dental care (I do think, at least in my case, I have some lousy genes), but it certainly didn't help!

I will be thinking good thoughts for you on Tuesday. Please let us know how it goes and check back here beforehand if you want more support!
 
K

kittykat

Former Member
Re: Less than 4 days til I go for the first time in years.... really nervous, please read and reply

Thanks for replying, Fearful! I'm just very nervous as to what they'll find... I know it hasn't been that long compared to other people, but it still troubles me, as I can see visible holes in two of my teeth :redface::cry: I worry the most about talking with the dentist. I know I'll be able to talk with the hygenist about my worries but the thought of meeting the actual dentist makes me want to cry. :shame: I just hope they remember I want the laughing gas because I'll be too embarrassed to ask for it in person... I also get physically ill when I'm nervous\anxious\upset so I worry about being sick when I get there :(:(:(
 
K

kittykat

Former Member
Re: Less than 4 days til I go for the first time in years.... really nervous, please read and reply

One other thing:

It's been suggested that I should write down a list to bring, but along with that is my fear of being judged or embarrassed, and I worry about how they will react to me bringing a list or what they'll think of me. Maybe I'm just being very self-conscious because I'm a teenager, but I've already sent them an email regarding my fears, so maybe it won't be such a bad thing... Afterall, I've already made a fool of myself to whomever read that email.... Has anyone else brought a list of things to their first appointment?
 
FearfulInMA

FearfulInMA

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Re: Less than 4 days til I go for the first time in years.... really nervous, please read and reply

kittykat,

As much as I know that your head is probably spinning about all of the things that could be wrong with your teeth, worrying about it isn't going to change anything -- it's only gong to make you more upset. I think that taking a list of things with you that you want to ask/discuss is TOTALLY NORMAL. I'm also sure that they did not think you were at all weird for sending an email with your fears. Better that they know, right? Remember, there are a lot of us dental-phobes out there and dentists are way more used to dealing with us than we are with them. What scares you most about meeting the dentist (vs. the hygienist)?. Is it the worry about what s/he might say is wrong with your teeth? You can ask if the hygienist will stay in the room when the dentist is talking with you (and this will likely happen anyway). You can also tell the dentist that, if there's a lot of work that needs to be done (and there may not be!) that you don't want to know about it all at once. I know that all I knew after I left my first appointment was that I would need to go back several times. I had no idea how many fillings I needed and that worked best for me. And, you can also tell yourself that you will be able manage whatever needs to be done -- because you will! You have all of us here for support and you will get through whatever it is -- and I am guessing that whatever you are imagining is WAY worse than what the reality will be.

Try to take care of yourself and hang in there!
 
K

kittykat

Former Member
Re: Less than 4 days til I go for the first time in years.... really nervous, please read and reply

kittykat,

What scares you most about meeting the dentist (vs. the hygienist)?. Is it the worry about what s/he might say is wrong with your teeth?

Try to take care of yourself and hang in there!

I think it's because the hygienists have always been kind to me, while dentists not so much. I see them as an authority figure that I have to obey and I feel like I have to do whatever they recommend, regardless, and that makes me feel like I've got no control
 
FearfulInMA

FearfulInMA

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Re: Less than 4 days til I go for the first time in years.... really nervous, please read and reply

kittykat,

Well, hopefully, you will find the right dentist -- one who is kind and understanding -- and you will be able to have a more positive experience with the dentist. I have also felt the way you do (about the dentist being an authority figure). I have found that, since I've found a younger dentist (one who seems more like a peer), I am much more able to feel like I'm in control. I actually think both endodontists I have seen have been YOUNGER than I am -- that was a little weird, but I definitely felt way more comfortable than I would have if they were old and scary.

Also, once I had seen my dentist a few times, I found it helpful to try to make small talk about things other than dental work (I, of course, had to rehearse this in my head ahead of time because there's no way, with all of my anxiety, that I would be able to figure out what to say in the moment). This helps me to humanize him and I hope, for him to humanize me (and not just seem me as a set of teeth :)). I even asked him once why he decided to become a dentist -- as I was fascinated as to why anyone would choose that as a career path...

I hope some of this is helpful. Just try to think good, positive thoughts about your appt.
 
K

kittykat

Former Member
Re: Less than 4 days til I go for the first time in years.... really nervous, please read and reply

,
I have also felt the way you do (about the dentist being an authority figure). I have found that, since I've found a younger dentist (one who seems more like a peer), I am much more able to feel like I'm in control. I actually think both endodontists I have seen have been YOUNGER than I am -- that was a little weird, but I definitely felt way more comfortable than I would have if they were old and scary.


If I went any younger than I am, he'd have to be Doogie Howser!!! ;););)
 
FearfulInMA

FearfulInMA

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Re: Less than 4 days til I go for the first time in years.... really nervous, please read and reply

Haha! I did think of that. But, perhaps you could find a dentist closer to your age than your parents' age?
 
K

kittykat

Former Member
Re: Less than 4 days til I go for the first time in years.... really nervous, please read and reply

Not sure if I'd be able to find a dentist that'd be experienced in his 20s.... so I'm stuck with Dr. Old Man. But he has been practicing for a long time, so I feel comfortable with that
 
kitkat

kitkat

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Re: Less than 4 days til I go for the first time in years.... really nervous, please read and reply

Hi Kittykat!
We have soo much in common (even down to our names :giggle:!). I too was raised with crummy dental insurance which means all of my childhood dental experiences were with the dreaded "dental chains." These things make no sense to me...people don't go to physician chains...with a general practitioner people choose a doctor that is solely theirs and they do not just see whoever happens to be working that day at the office. I also never had a dentist to call my own that I could build any rapport or trust with and they never communicated with me which led to major control issues. It was not until I went to an office privately owned by a single dentist that I began to have good experiences which was when I was about 14 or 15. I'm 24 now and I'm still with said dentist. Good for you for standing your ground with your mom and not going to her dentist...she does not sound like the right dentist for you and good for you for finding someone for yourself. No need to further traumatize yourself by forcing you into a situation you aren't comfortable with. My mother forced me to her dentist when I was 14 or 15 because she did not understand my fears but lucky for me, she turned out to be a very kind dentist and made an effort to work with me through my fears. I think part of the authority issue comes from our younger age...when we were kids (which was not too long ago) they were the authority figure along with our parents. My dentist had to tell me that I was in control before I realized that I was the authority figure (now I'm drunk with power and drive my dentist crazy with interruptions and questions! :)). Kidding aside though, this new place sounds very promising. I'm also a fan of younger healthcare providers (and I too work in the healthcare field-speech therapy). I feel like they may be more open to new techniques/technology/ innovation and have better training etc. but there is something to be said for experience. My dentist is not particularly old (she's probably in her 50s) but she knows a lot of tips and tricks from her experience and has developed the confidence/personal skills over time needed for handling me so I'm grateful for a seasoned practitioner in this case. I think it is a good idea to bring a list of things...then you don't have to worry about forgetting anything. Best of Luck for Tuesday! Let us know how it goes!
 
P

Patti

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Re: Less than 4 days til I go for the first time in years.... really nervous, please read and reply

Hi Kittykat,

I totally understand. My parents never took me to a dentist. My mother had dentures at 18 so you would THINK she would have taken me, at least for a checkup, but she didn't. I will be 49 in a month and the first time I ever saw a dentist was 6 yrs ago for 2 emergencies. Imagine how scared I was all those years and never EVER sitting in a dentist chair! It wasn't bad and I should have kept going, but I didn't. Then in April I had another "emergency" and was told root canal & crown. (I was expecting to hear filling again.) I doubled up & hypervenilated in front of the dentist and she pretty much acted like I was wasting her time and her assistant was rude to me. She suggested just pulling the tooth (a back molar) and referred me to an oral surgeon. I did it--and again it wasn't bad--but it was traumatic for me to say the least. I knew I needed to have my entire mouth looked at but was SO SCARED! Luckily a family friend is a dentist. I've known him since I was 10. I'd have gone to him in the first place but he's kind of a long drive but now I don't care how far he is. I went to him, he was so good with me and he now has my trust. He prescribed ativan for me for appts, offered nitrous, whatever I want/need. I needed 10 fillings, one filling fixed and 2 wisdom teeth out. I had my first filling appt and I swear I didn't even feel the shots! (I took ativan for the appt, but didn't use niterous). I have another appt Tuesday (another of many!) and I'm not even concerned about going. Once you find someone you trust, it will make all the difference. Good luck with your appt!
 
K

kittykat

Former Member
Re: Less than 4 days til I go for the first time in years.... really nervous, please read and reply

Thanks for replying... and KitKat, I love that our names are so close! :p And so are our stories. Finally, someone who actually understands... I will not ever send my future child to a "chain dentist". That's a good way to ensure you'll be getting crappy treatment.

I'll let you all know how it goes... starting to feel a little bit better about it now that I've had other peoples' opinions\stories\encouragement. And surely I'm just expecting the worst... And I'm not sure how I'll adjust to actually being in control this time now that I'm an adult and can make my own choices...
 
kitkat

kitkat

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Re: Less than 4 days til I go for the first time in years.... really nervous, please read and reply

Thanks for replying... and KitKat, I love that our names are so close! :p And so are our stories. Finally, someone who actually understands... I will not ever send my future child to a "chain dentist". That's a good way to ensure you'll be getting crappy treatment.

Yeah, they really should shut these places down. The only thing worse than general dental chains, are pediatric dental chains..I have had the unfortunate luck of attending both. I was in a pediatric dental chain to start with and graduated to a general dental chain :rolleyes:. While they are both contributors, I found the pediatric chain was more traumatic. The two chains I attended for the longest time frames have saturated the area in which I live, and I still shudder to drive by their signs.

And I'm not sure how I'll adjust to actually being in control this time now that I'm an adult and can make my own choices...

Embrace it! You will be so glad you did! A great thing to do to exercise your new control is to establish a stop signal with the dentist/hygienist in case you are having discomfort or just feeling overwhelmed and need to take a break. My dentist/hygienist encourages the use of a stop signal even for simple routine cleanings and exams which is just raising my left hand. Although I don't usually need to use it during those appointments, it's nice to have it handy and gives me peace of mind.
 
K

kittykat

Former Member
Re: Less than 4 days til I go for the first time in years.... really nervous, please read and reply

The two chains I attended for the longest time frames have saturated the area in which I live, and I still shudder to drive by their signs.

I was driving with my parents and we got lost and had to pull over off the side of the highway to check the GPS and we were in the middle of the ghetto... I was already freaking out and then I saw a building with the name of the chain dentist I went to and they had bars on the window... glad to know I went to such a fine establishment! (Seeing this building then added to my anxiety about being in the ghetto and I nearly hyperventilated) The one I went to never had bars on the window as it was in a safe neighborhood, but the fact that this chain has other places that DO have bars on the window makes me wonder what the hell my parents were thinking sending me there...
 
kitkat

kitkat

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Re: Less than 4 days til I go for the first time in years.... really nervous, please read and reply

I was driving with my parents and we got lost and had to pull over off the side of the highway to check the GPS and we were in the middle of the ghetto... I was already freaking out and then I saw a building with the name of the chain dentist I went to and they had bars on the window... glad to know I went to such a fine establishment! (Seeing this building then added to my anxiety about being in the ghetto and I nearly hyperventilated) The one I went to never had bars on the window as it was in a safe neighborhood, but the fact that this chain has other places that DO have bars on the window makes me wonder what the hell my parents were thinking sending me there...

Wow! I know what you mean! I'm shocked at some of the places my parents chose for me as well. I think the general chain I went to was only a small improvement because they were tolerating treatment at the same establishment, therefore, it had to be to at least their own minimal standards.I don't really have very many memories of the pediatric chain other than that they terrified me. I have a lot of memories of waiting at the pediatric chain but only a few fleeting memories of actual treatment but don't recall anything particularly awful (which I guess is a good thing). I recently looked up the reviews for my old pediatric practice just out of curiosity and turns out they have a reputation for scaring children and creating phobics. Nice, right?! I at least felt justified in reading that.

My mom always thought the best strategy to find a dentist was to open the phone book and pick a name or randomly select from a list provided by the insurance and we changed pretty frequently for awhile. Given the lack of thought put into her selections, I would try to make her or my dad go first when we started at a new place so she could "screen" them in a sense and if she survived the appointment, I felt a little more open to trying them out. I figured, if you picked them, you can be the guinea pig! I ended up being the guinea pig for both the exam and treatment with my current dentist that she forced me to as a teenager. I looked at her like "you CAN'T be serious?! You don't know who you are sending me to. What if this person is a total sadist and I end up scarred for life (moreso than I already am)?!" :o If I ever have to choose my own, if god forbid my dentist ever retires or moves, I'm going to have to do a ton of research beforehand before putting even one foot over the threshold.
 
F

franklinm

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Re: Less than 4 days til I go for the first time in years.... really nervous, please read and reply

Kitykat, I think you will be fine.:) I'm really sorry that you had these bad experiences at a dentist office, this should have never happened. This happened when you were the same exact age you were back then as I am today. I don't have any say in my dental care whatsoever(well at least from my perspective), but now that you're an adult I think you'll be delighted to find that you'll be more respected by your dentist and whole dental team than if you were a kid.:respect: It sounds like the office you e-mailed sounds very nice and they'll be able to ease your fears. Just take it very SLOWLY and you'll be alright, think baby steps, a little at a time. Just curious, what exactly do you fear about visiting the dentist.? I really think laughing gas will help you, you don't care what anybody is doing to you. JUST BREATHE THROUGH YOUR NOSE. I've had laughing gas a couple of times, most recently when I had some baby teeth pulled, it really helped. They won't judge you, if they do remember you can just straight up leave, you're an ADULT. Use that to your advantage. If they don't remember to give you the laughing gas please ask for it, you won't regret it. It's nothing to be ashamed of, I'm sure they'll understand. I'm sure all go well for you and everything will go smoothly, good luck.:clover: You'll be in my thoughts on July 10th, what time is your appointment?
 
K

kittykat

Former Member
Re: Less than 4 days til I go for the first time in years.... really nervous, please read and reply

Just curious, what exactly do you fear about visiting the dentist.? You'll be in my thoughts on July 10th, what time is your appointment?

I'm not entirely sure why I feel this way, but I think it has something to do with trust mostly (Trusting some random stranger who I've never met before to touch my mouth sounds a bit sketchy) and the fact that said stranger is invading my personal space. It's uncomfortable to me to have someone that close to my face. Also, I feel very vulnerable while lying down and don't like lying down while a complete stranger puts their hands in my mouth! Not sure why lying down makes me feel so panicked and like I have no control... maybe it has something to do with some sort of animal instinct about getting attacked while lying down and sleeping? I remember when I went to my old orthodontist, they would keep me waiting forever lying down while they ran off to do something else and I always ended up sitting up in the chair because it freaked me out so much.

Hopefully while I'm in panic mode, I'll remember to breathe through my nose! Probably will since breathing through my nose helps me calm down anyway. And yay drugs :hic::hic::hic: If they don't remember to give the laughing gas to me, I might be able to work up the courage to ask, but not sure if I'll have the balls to do that yet! I did include in my (3 page long) list of worries\concerns\questions\suggestions that I'll bring to my appointment before I even sit in that chair, that I feel like sedation would help me a lot, so if they didn't remember maybe they'll give it to me anyway!

My appointment is at 11:30 am central time... When I called they told me 11:15, but the email confirmation said 11:30 so that's what I'll be going with
 
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