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letting some stupid teeth ruin my happiness

S

Spider

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Pacific Northwest, USA
My back story:

I’ve been a member since 2013 and I kind of had my dental anxiety under control. I was going for cleanings every 6 months and on occasion, the dentist would do a small filling. I never was “cured” of my anxiety, but from the outside, I probably appeared normal. Worry crept in immediately after each cleaning, and would worsen as the countdown to the next 6 month cleaning approached. May and November were months to dread because of a single 40 minute cleaning appointment. I managed well because my hygienist was an angel. She was so loving and gentle and would pause during cleanings to massage my jaw muscles (I have bad TMJ). The dentist was okayish, but I didn't see him much because I would only need a small cavity filled on occasion.


Last year we spontaneously moved across the country in October. I had to cancel my cleaning appointment, which was thrilling! It was nice to leave behind the anticipation of an upcoming cleaning, but deep down inside I became even more fearful because I would have to see a new dentist once we settled in. The day finally came, and I made an appointment for myself at a dental practice in my new town. The office was clean, welcoming and friendly. The dentist was gentle and non-threatening. I told them that I have extreme anxiety and I often have panic attacks if I feel trapped or out of control. The dentist had a little camera and he went from tooth to tooth and showed me what was wrong. Every molar has something that needs repairing. Every. Single. Molar. My soul was crushed. I don’t understand how things could go south so quickly. I’m pretty sure the problems have been lingering for awhile, because I haven’t changed my flossing/brushing routines. My last dentist wasn’t very thorough, and this dentist was extremely thorough. I wasn’t mentally prepared to hear that my teeth are decaying away.

Now every minute that goes by is spent with me thinking about my teeth. I'm in a constant state of panic and its ruining my life. I hate being snippy with my kids, and being unable to sleep, and being unable to do anything enjoyable because I'm so hyper focused on my teeth and my physical symptoms.

I made an appointment at the end of the month to have one smaller cavity filled as a “test appointment”, since the dentist wants to show me that it won’t be so bad. I might try nitrous oxide for the first time. I'm also an emetophobe (phobia of vomit), so now I'm worried about the nitrous making me nauseous.

Also, since I'm sharing all my terrible secrets, I'm borderline agoraphobic. My home is my "safe spot" and I suffer from anxiety if I need to stray too far. So in addition to dental phobia, I'm terrified of vomiting, and I don't function well when I leave home. I hide all this craziness quite well :(

I'm also embarrassed that I made a fool of myself by crying during x-rays and nervously babbling on and on about being freaked out. I live on a farm, 20 minutes outside of a small town. I finally talked to some real life people and I made a fool of myself. I feel so alone, scared and overwhelmed and I hate that I let some stupid teeth ruin my happiness.

My goal is to update my journal here and hope that by writing down my fears, I will find healing and peace so I can make it through months and years of dentist torture. If you made it this far, thank you!


 
letsconnect

letsconnect

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Hi Spider :welcome:, thanks for posting about your situation!

It's a well-known fact that if you ask 10 different dentists, you'll get 11 different opinions. Some dentists can be rather too laid-back, while others fall into the too pro-active category. It sounds as if the two dentists you've seen might be on opposite sides of the spectrum. Do you feel it would be worthwhile getting a third opinion? I think this is what I'd be doing for peace of mind, before going ahead with anything. You call the shots in this, and you need to be happy with the proposed treatment.

I take it though that the borderline agoraphobia impacts on your ability to see someone else for a third opinion, and that this might complicate things.

It sounds as if personality-wise, your new dentist is a good match, so don't worry about the crying during x-rays and voicing your concerns about being freaked out :) . They'll have seen it a hundred times before and won't think any less of you. Dental anxiety is extremely common, and it would be rather unusual for members of the dental team to be fazed by it!

Finally, fair play to you for plucking up the courage to see someone new after your move. Most people would probably have gone into avoidance mode instead :respect:.
 
Dg6300

Dg6300

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Thank you for sharing.

You have demonstrated a lot of courage.

Please keep posting.

I’ll look forward to reports about your courageous journey with interest.

Keep us posted.
 
D

Davee

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Hi Spider. I truly understand how worrying about your teeth can consume your life. But please get a second opinion from another dentist before you have work done. I will tell you why.

At work our dental insurance changed. This led to some of my co-workers having to find new dentists. Two of my co-workers went to new dentists. Both of these dentists found extensive work to be done. One of my co-workers took this at face value and let the new dentist fill 14 of her teeth. Yes that is right- she had no dental issues previously with her regular dentist but took the advice of her new dentist and had 14 teeth filled.


The other co-worker when hearing she needed 12 fillings went back to her old dentist for verification and a second opinion dentist as well. And turns out both of these dentists told her she did not need 12 fillings and her new dentist was basically trying to make money by doing unnecessary work. 3 years later and this co-worker does not have any issues with her teeth.
 
S

Spider

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thank you all so much for your replies and support!! :love: I must not be set up for email notifications because I didn't realize I had replies- so sorry it took me this long to get back! I came back to post an update incase anyone was following and I'm so humbled to see that I had replies :redface:

My last dentist would only peek in my mouth for a second and stab down hard once or twice :o and he would find a cavity to fill every other visit (about once a year). This new dentist had a little camera and he was able to show me each tooth that he was concerned with. One cavity was very obvious on the x-ray (like a missing black area). A few of the molars that he showed me did look worrisome- one had a crack line in it and another had 3 different fillings and there was some gray colored decay between the fillings. A few of the molars looked gray/transparent-ish on the biting surface (alongside previous fillings), and he was suspicious of those. Those particular teeth might be totally fine if I went to another dentist. I do think my old dentist and this dentist are on opposite sides of the spectrum!

I agree, it would be smart to get a second opinion. Honestly though, its very scary to think about seeing someone else at this point. This new dentist might be overly picky about decay (or potential decay), but he is very gentle and understanding. For now I'm focusing on getting the obvious ones repaired and the others will have to wait until I'm more certain that they need drilling. My husband is going to try out this new dentist, so it will be very telling whether or not this dentist is extra picky or if its just me and my bad teeth. Our last dentist never found anything wrong on my husbands teeth.

I came here to say that my appointment for my first filling was today!
:scared: It was on the tooth with the obvious decayed/black area on the x-ray.

The anxiety has been really bad since my cleaning several weeks ago. Its always the first thing on my mind when I wake up and the last when I go to bed. I’ve been trying very hard to not let the anxiety have control over me, but I haven’t been too successful. I tell myself that its only teeth, and its just an hour here and there to have them fixed. Then I try to think about all the blessings in my life (my kids, family, farm, health… etc). This morning I wasn’t any more anxious than usual, so that was good. I felt like I used up all my anxiety and there was nothing left to give.



The dentist and his assistant had fabulous chair side manners. The assistant was so sweet and kind and she asked if I wanted to try nitrous oxide. I was very hesitant, but she said I could try and then stop anytime. I tried very hard to embrace the nitrous and when I did, I definitely felt more relaxed. My anxiety could over power the nitrous though, and perhaps a higher dose would have worked better. I was too afraid of losing control and feeling too weird, so she kept the dose very low. Several times I felt that panicky feeling like “JUST HURRY UP AND DO IT!” but I read that pushing through is not helpful for overcoming dental anxiety so I tried very hard to stay in the moment and breathe. The assistant asked me what parts gave me anxiety- was it the shot or the sounds? I told her that I feared being trapped. She discussed this with the dentist when he came into the room and he said it wouldn’t be a big deal if I needed to run outside. He stopped every 20 seconds or so to make sure that I was okay. At one point the dentist needed to leave the room so I was left sitting in the chair to wait. I could feel the panic rising because I was “trapped” for an unknown time, but it ended up being a great opportunity for me to breathe deeply and let the anxiety lessen naturally. My last dentist was more “wham bam” with his technique, for example, he always ended up getting the etching chemical (?) down my throat. This one was very careful during the procedure.

Honestly though, I'm still afraid of the dentist. I see him again next month for another filling so fingers crossed I don't suffer with as much anxiety like I did this time.

Thank you for reading if you made it this far
:)


 
S

Spider

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Pacific Northwest, USA
A much needed update! I ended up going back to the dentist early this summer to have another tooth filled, and to have him adjust the bite on the previous filling since I was having pain when eating crunchy things.

I ended up leaving the appointment somewhat traumatized and terrified. I tried writing this update immediately after the appointment, but I couldn't find the right words to describe my feelings and just wanted to forget it all and focus on enjoying the summer.

There were some issues that caused me to panic. So first, the super lovely assistant hooked me up to nitrous and then I waited 5 or 10 minutes for the dentist to come in and numb up my tooth. The dentist went off to speak to another patient, and didn't return for 30-40 minutes. I laid there the entire time, breathing in nitrous and alone in my head. My stomach was burning from nerves so then I started getting more nervous about my stomach hurting. I told the assistant that I felt weird and she tried hurrying the dentist along. By the time he returned, I was a nervous wreck. He started drilling and I felt it. He stopped right away and said that he would give me a better injection to really numb up the entire area. He injected more numbing, and then I had to wait again, but only 5 minutes this time. My anxiety grew with the wait. I asked the assistant to turn down the nitrous. I’m not sure I like nitrous. I don’t think its a good fit for me, because its somewhat overwhelming to have the nose piece on my face, and to hear the whooshing air sound, plus I'm constantly over analyzing how I feel. During the cavity prep, he did lots of drilling and near the end I felt a huge zap of pain travel down my jaw. I have never felt intense pain like that before. Thankfully he was done drilling but it was really scary.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) I have an appointment for a crown prep on a back lower molar that is cracked and decayed. The molar that needs the crown is right next to the tooth where the numbing didn't work so well.

I'm terrified for tomorrow and I've been in denial and not letting myself think about it. I haven't even told my family that I have an appointment tomorrow! Its easier to pretend its not happening if no one knows. If I think about it, my brain only tells me negative things and fills me with self doubt so its better to pretend its not happening. I didn't want to update my journal at all, but I hope that one day I can look back on this and see how irrational my negative thoughts were. Fingers crossed I have a successful appointment tomorrow.
 
S

Spider

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Thank you!
I managed to sleep last night! Its 7:20am right now and appointment starts at 9am! I won't have much time to focus on my anxiety since I have to get the kids to school at 8:30 and its always a mad rush!
 
krlovesherkids777

krlovesherkids777

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Hope all is going well and there is no pain this time !! Let us know how it goes!!
 
S

Spider

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Update time! So I went to my appointment this morning and everything went much better than I expected! I have a temporary crown on the tooth and I go back in 2 weeks for the permanent one.

The appointment started with me telling the assistant that I didn't want nitrous, and I might do better if they just chatted to me the entire time to occupy my brain. She said that was a great idea, and she loves to talk so it won't be a problem. She also said that they will take lots of breaks. I also told them that I was really afraid of feeling a sudden jolt of pain, and they reassured me that they will keep giving me more numbing if necessary. The dentist would only do a little drilling and then pause to make sure that I was okay. Early on, I felt a medium sharp pain, so he stopped and added more numbing. Then a bit later, I started feeling pain again, so he gave me more numbing in the gums around the tooth. After that I didn't feel much- just a tiny twinge near the end, but he was almost done so I was okay with it. I had lots of breaks to just chat with them, and laugh. To be honest, I really hated being there, but I wasn't panicking and I never felt the need to escape. I did experience a racing heart after each numbing (which is normal), but the racing heart didn't set me off into a panic. I just chatted to them and it took my mind off my heart rate. I love chatting... can you tell :D

I think the biggest challenge was keeping my mouth open for so long. My mouth doesn't open very wide so I had to hold my lower jaw down to help make some extra room. Even so, he struggled at times to see the tooth. I also was hyper focused on the tooth, anticipating pain. Perhaps will time I'll be able to relax more.

The appointment took 1.5 hours, which is the normal length for a crown prep, although they had me booked for 2 hours. So I did pretty good I think! I really don't want to go back, ever, but perhaps next time I'll be less afraid.
 
S

Spider

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I just came to check in, but I see that I must have messed up when posting my last update (the 2 week appointment after the crown prep)! It went well, although they had a hard time getting the crown to fit, so they had to file down the crown and also take a bit off the tooth above so my bite would be okay. It was probably over an hour long. It was okay though and I think it was good for me to have another long session. I think the more exposure I have, the less afraid I become.

In November I had a regular cleaning and tomorrow (eek!) I have another crown for a tooth that is badly decayed around an old filling. I'm honestly not panicked or scared, but my mind keeps obsessively thinking about it. The not so good part is I haven't told anyone that I have an appointment in the morning- not even my husband! I'm obviously in denial and thats my coping strategy! I suppose its not real until I tell someone, lol!
 
krlovesherkids777

krlovesherkids777

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Spider ,

I hope you have a good appt today for your crown. Let us know how it goes.. I like longer sessions too, as I feel unrushed and like they are taking time , if things go too quick my anxiety really kicks in. as a matter a fact. I get encouraged when a dentist is late for my appt because I figure they were taking the needed time for the patient before. I know others don't like them to be late and that can provoke anxiety as well. and right. you get more experience and exposure .

Seems you are really stepping up in courage ! You are taking care of you to get you to where you need to be and if that includes not telling anyone than you are doing what you need. :). Would love to hear how it goes .
 
S

Spider

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Just got home from my crown prep! This is my second crown and I think it went really well! The appointment was at 9am and I left at 11am, and most of that time was waiting for this or that, so it wasn't 2 hours of pure dental work. This particular tooth had a big old filling that had lots of decay around the filling.

I was strangely not too nervous before the appointment. I took some crocheting with me, and crocheted while I waited and ended up chatting with other ladies in the waiting room about crocheting. Even though I'm an introvert, I do love chatting with strangers (weird, I know) and it always distracts me from anxiety. I saw the same dentist and hygienist (its written in my records that I only see them, hahaha) and we chatting about everything which really passed the time. The dentist has yet to show me an aggressive or agitated side to his personality and he never makes me feel like I'm bothering him. He gave me more numbing at one point, and took lots of little breaks. It was all very calm and paced. He also works very carefully and even though I hate when he keeps going back to "take just a tiny bit more", I know that he wants it perfect. My last dentist was more "wham bam" and everything was such a mess... hence all the cavities around very new fillings :(

So, the tooth is all cleaned and I have a temporary crown and in 2 1/2 weeks I return for my permanent crown. It feels so good to be more than half way there.

Thank you for all the words of encouragement on this thread.. I re-read and it really helps keep me going and helps put everything in perspective. I think today I had a tiny glimpse of how "normal" people feel when they see the dentist... if only I could hold onto that feeling for next time.
 
kitkat

kitkat

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I was strangely not too nervous before the appointment. I took some crocheting with me, and crocheted while I waited and ended up chatting with other ladies in the waiting room about crocheting. Even though I'm an introvert, I do love chatting with strangers (weird, I know) and it always distracts me from anxiety. I saw the same dentist and hygienist (its written in my records that I only see them, hahaha) and we chatting about everything which really passed the time. The dentist has yet to show me an aggressive or agitated side to his personality and he never makes me feel like I'm bothering him. He gave me more numbing at one point, and took lots of little breaks. It was all very calm and paced. He also works very carefully and even though I hate when he keeps going back to "take just a tiny bit more", I know that he wants it perfect. My last dentist was more "wham bam" and everything was such a mess... hence all the cavities around very new fillings :(
I just read your whole thread and I am so glad that you have been able to troubleshoot and didn’t immediately throw in the towel after some iffy experiences. I do feel like there is sometimes an adjustment period where you and the dentist have to figure each other out. I can relate to what you wrote about your dentist’s attention to detail. My dentist is quite a perfectionist too which sometimes means longer appointments and she’s even redone some things when she didn’t like the outcome but the end results are top quality. Before I went to my current perfectionist dentist, I had been bouncing around to a lot of different dentists for several years due to insurance issues and they all took a quick look and told me all is well. She did full x-rays and a thorough exam and told me I had like 12 cavities..I almost fell over! :o I remember thinking, how can that be?! But after many years, she’s proven to be honest with good intentions so I guess it can happen!
 
M

Mugz

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Hi Spider,

I remember you from 2014 and have to say how impressed I am with how much you’ve accomplished - not only cleanings but fillings and CROWNS and all with a new dental practice, no less! Thanks for your informative and encouraging post - you give the rest of us hope ;)!
 
S

Spider

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Hi Spider,

I remember you from 2014 and have to say how impressed I am with how much you’ve accomplished - not only cleanings but fillings and CROWNS and all with a new dental practice, no less! Thanks for your informative and encouraging post - you give the rest of us hope ;)!
I'm flattered to be remembered :) I was in dental phobia denial for many years- hence the gap in my posting here :D

Update on my crown. All good news! I went back to have the permanent crown cemented in place. Before the appointment I wasn't really nervous, but I just felt "done" with being at the dentist. I wasn't in the mood to go, hahaha, but I sucked it up and went anyway. I brought my crocheting and I had a nice time chatting to the dental assistant. She doesn't know it, but she's my only friend in my new town (sad, lol!) The only time that I felt my anxiety and panic creep in was right before they cemented the crown on. He cleaned off the tooth and told me to keep my mouth open and I heard them discuss applying the bonding to the crown, and then I immediately felt "trapped" since running away was not an option because I HAD to cooperate or else the crown wouldn't be cemented correctly and it would all be a huge disaster. I managed to control my anxiety for that split second and very soon after they started chatting to me again and then I calmed down. I definitely have a ways to go with that fear!

There are a few more teeth with issues and we discussed having a smallish cavity filled next. They told me it isn't a rush, so I may wait until the end of March to schedule it and take a little break away from dental work.
 
kitkat

kitkat

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I'm flattered to be remembered :) I was in dental phobia denial for many years- hence the gap in my posting here :D

Update on my crown. All good news! I went back to have the permanent crown cemented in place. Before the appointment I wasn't really nervous, but I just felt "done" with being at the dentist. I wasn't in the mood to go, hahaha, but I sucked it up and went anyway. I brought my crocheting and I had a nice time chatting to the dental assistant. She doesn't know it, but she's my only friend in my new town (sad, lol!) The only time that I felt my anxiety and panic creep in was right before they cemented the crown on. He cleaned off the tooth and told me to keep my mouth open and I heard them discuss applying the bonding to the crown, and then I immediately felt "trapped" since running away was not an option because I HAD to cooperate or else the crown wouldn't be cemented correctly and it would all be a huge disaster. I managed to control my anxiety for that split second and very soon after they started chatting to me again and then I calmed down. I definitely have a ways to go with that fear!

There are a few more teeth with issues and we discussed having a smallish cavity filled next. They told me it isn't a rush, so I may wait until the end of March to schedule it and take a little break away from dental work.
That’s great news that everything went well with the crown! I know what you mean about feeling “done” with dentistry. I went through a period where I had several fillings followed by a root canal and by the time I got to the crown prep, I didn’t really care what they did to me anymore. I don’t even recall being that nervous..more tired and just over it. I put on my headphones and zoned out throughout the crown prep and I’m usually the control freak that wants to know every detail of what’s going on. Breaks can be a blessing and a curse, when I have lots of appointments close together, I get less anxious and more used to it. When I have been away for a little bit, I have a harder time staying calm.
 
S

Spider

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I can't believe I haven't updated here. I'm pretty certain I did, but perhaps I closed my computer before I posted! Since my last post, I took several months off from dental work. My excuse was that it was lambing season and I needed to keep my schedule open... for several months... just incase I had lambs that needed delivering ;) I did deliver lambs, but only 5 total, but I can pretend that I have a bigger flock if I want to ;) I had my regularly scheduled cleaning appointment during the springtime after the nice dental break, and they reminded me that I needed a few more things done. Cleaning appointments cause me SO much stress. The most terrifying thing is when the dentist walks in and "has a little look" and then starts calling out teeth numbers and issues. Thats the part I dread. The hygienist was new, and she went over my medical history. In it, I have written that I faint occasionally and often get dizzy when I'm anxious. She asked me if I still faint and get dizzy, and I said yes, I still have anxiety. She seemed confused and didn't think anxiety would cause that. Ummm, yes it does. She must not have anxiety.

So, 3 things left. 1 small filling on the bottom left, 2 fillings with decay around them that need replacing (top right) and 1 more crown on a molar with a huge filling and decay around the filling. I scheduled the small filling first and that went okay. Nothing unexpected, no pain, no anxiety. I don't have many friends in my new town (actually, none), so I consider the dentist assistant my closest friend, which is very lame and sad, but I see her the most and I enjoy chatting with her. We both have kids around the same age and our kids go to the same school, so we have lots of talk about. I was looking forward to the appointment somewhat, so I could chat with my "friend" :)

Tomorrow is the double filling on the upper right. I'm nervous for sure and have been counting down the days. Not crazy nervous, but I know it will affect my sleep tonight thinking about all the "what ifs". I'm trying to stay positive and trying not to think about it. I still have the awful habit of not telling anyone or writing it on the calendar. I haven't told my husband or my family. It becomes too "real" when people know and when I make child care arrangements... so tomorrow morning I'll wake up, text my mom "Dentist appointment in an hour! I'm bringing the kids over in 20 minutes!!" and rush to my appointment which starts at 9:30 am. I'll try to update tomorrow while its all fresh on my mind. Thanks for reading :)
 
S

Spider

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... I got 2 more fillings done! It all turned out okay, although I was definitely full of anxiety before and quite tense during. They took me back at exactly 9:30, but I didn't walk out until 11:00. It was a long time to be sitting in the chair with people fiddling in my mouth. Near the end, they asked if a student could help assist and I said it was fine. She was very new and they were teaching her how not to gag me with the sucker thing, lol! I didn't mind at all- it actually made my anxiety lower knowing that I was helping someone learn (kind of weird as I think other people would get even more tense). Anyway, both teeth have their old fillings removed and the decay cleaned up, and new fillings in their place. Fingers crossed these last more than just a few years. I'm mentally exhausted but glad its over. I scheduled my crown (3rd crown) for the end of September. So I'll have plenty of time to start worrying about it...
 
krlovesherkids777

krlovesherkids777

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Spider,

Sounds you were quite brave, did very well with the treatment despite it being a while in the chair and even a great help to a student dentist through it all.. just a wow. and good to hear they were teaching her not to gag you.. sounds like they were concerned for your comfort and others . Good you scheduled your crown visit too!
 
kitkat

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... I got 2 more fillings done! It all turned out okay, although I was definitely full of anxiety before and quite tense during. They took me back at exactly 9:30, but I didn't walk out until 11:00. It was a long time to be sitting in the chair with people fiddling in my mouth. Near the end, they asked if a student could help assist and I said it was fine. She was very new and they were teaching her how not to gag me with the sucker thing, lol! I didn't mind at all- it actually made my anxiety lower knowing that I was helping someone learn (kind of weird as I think other people would get even more tense). Anyway, both teeth have their old fillings removed and the decay cleaned up, and new fillings in their place. Fingers crossed these last more than just a few years. I'm mentally exhausted but glad its over. I scheduled my crown (3rd crown) for the end of September. So I'll have plenty of time to start worrying about it...
My dental office often takes on dental students and I also seem to be calmed (or at least distracted by their presence). I often can sense their nerves and it’s nice to not be the only nervous person in the room! LOL I find that if I focus on their nerves, I get busy trying to be reassuring towards them (by assuring them that I’m ok, they aren’t hurting me, etc.) and then I feel calmer.
 
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