• Welcome! This is a forum for anyone who is affected by a fear of the dentist, dental phobia, or specific dental fears.

    We are lucky to count a number of dentists among our members and moderators. Look out for the "Verified dentist" badges. If you are a dental professional who likes to help, please join our community!

    Register now to access many more features and forums!

Long time no post

T

Tink

Well-known member
Joined
May 14, 2013
Messages
755
Location
UK
Hi folks, very old poster here, it's been a few years! I see a few familiar names still regularly posting (hi! 👋)

You might remember me for my long, complicated, occasionally slightly mysterious story and my long rambling posts in which I overthink everything. Here comes more of the same!

I'm back here because I...could use some support. Having a hard time just now and honestly sometimes I feel like just throwing in the towel because this whole awful dental phobia thing has dragged on for so many years now and it just doesn't ever seem to get any easier.

--

Here's the story:

For those who don't remember me (that's most of you I guess!) - I've been struggling with dental phobia for years, and it's been a rough ride. After a string of early bad dental experiences, I found a fantastic dentist and a therapist who completely turned things around for me. We did all the sorts of things you see suggested on here, it's been all about working together to build up a solid trusting relationship with my dentist, telling him how I'm feeling & what's bothering me. We worked through a process of systematic desensitisation together and it was working great, right up until a Terrible Thing came out of nowhere and blew everything apart. (Terrible Thing is not my story to tell and in many ways the exact nature of it isn't really that important to the story - the important part now is the lasting damage it did.) It was a horrible time. But, after a little bit of time for everybody to recover from the initial shock of it all, we picked ourselves up and brushed ourselves off and put the pieces back together. There was a lot of rebuilding to do and it was a lot of work but we got there.

That all took place back in about 2015. That's the part where we skipped off into the sunset and everybody lived happily ever after, right?

I should be this great success story now, conquering my phobia and all that - I've faced my fears head on so. many. times. My dentist and I have put huge amounts of work in over many years and on paper we've done everything right, in as much as we can with these things.

But then about 6 or 7 months ago a couple of very minor changes happened (stuff like my lovely hygienist left, and a new dentist arrived in the practise who I'm a bit wary of), it all sort of snowballed in my head and everything collapsed! Out of nowhere, nothing much of any great substance happened, and suddenly it all just seemed to come apart in my hands. I'm not even entirely sure what happened, it's like a tiny gust of wind and the whole house fell over. I ran away, for a bit. Haven't been in since, I'm kind of in exile now and feel really alienated from the place.

I probably should have seen this coming sooner - but I realised that things weren't anywhere near as fixed as I thought they were. The red flags were already there, I'm wildly oversensitive when it comes to dentist stuff and get weird disproportionate emotional reactions to anything to do with it - it's been like that all along - and whenever we had to do anything it was always a huge drama and a lot of turmoil (root canal was hard going for everybody).

What I've realised is it's a bit like how people respond to trauma - the patterns are all there. All that went on in the past, and especially the Terrible Thing which hit at a critical time, left me with lasting damage, and that damage is still there. I'm not fixed at all. I've still got the emotional scars. It just took us a long time to realise it.

--

So...now we're trying to fix it. Again. I've been working on it with my therapist guy, and in a couple of weeks I'm due to go in for a chat with my dentist with a view to easing back into it. And to fix the bigger underlying issue, we're seeking out professional mental health support from somebody who has more experience dealing with trauma stuff - got some leads on that I think, but it's early days.

All sensible stuff, I think. We're all doing our best in a complex situation that nobody quite knows the answer to.

But the reason I'm here seeking support is that I'm exhausted, and this is hard. I really really just want to throw in the towel and run away. To stop always having to work on it and rebuild over and over and over again. I could get a referral to somewhere like the special care bit of the local NHS community dental service and just see a different stranger every time. Just go in, be polite, close my eyes, get my teeth checked, tell them I don't want to talk about, and leave. Come back in 6 months, rinse & repeat...white knuckle it through any treatment I might need, demand sedation for anything beyond a tiny filling. I've tried being good and engaging with phobia treatment, and look at the mess that left me in.

I know what you're all going to say. I'm going to let you say it anyway because I don't have the resources left to say it to myself just now.
 
Dr. Daniel

Dr. Daniel

Well-known member
Verified dentist
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
1,938
Location
The Hague , Holland
Hi,

What I understand from your post (please correct me if I’m wrong) that there is no dental problem at the present moment.
You want a new permanent dentist.
Switching to a new dentist can be difficult but that is something we can not avoid. Dentists retire, move to a new city or sometimes even die (Dentists are human after all).
So if there is no immediate need for a dental appointment you can take a pause from looking for one and get back to it later on. There is no rush.
 
T

Tink

Well-known member
Joined
May 14, 2013
Messages
755
Location
UK
Thanks Dr Daniel.

You're right that my teeth don't have any immediate problems that I'm aware of so there is time to figure it all out, thank goodness.

I don't know that I do want a new permanent dentist though - my current dentist is still there and still willing to work with me. There's been a lot of water under the bridge, at the moment I feel my choices are to rebuild things with this guy based on all the work we've already done and keep pushing through...or run away to somewhere where I get a different dentist every time so there's no need to get to know anybody.

I feel too fragile to open up to somebody new just now and I've got a feeling a lot of the existing psychological problems I'm dealing with would just follow me over there anyway. I'd just transfer it all onto whichever new dentist I ended up with and repeat the cycle.

Hoping calling in additional support from some sort of mental health professional will shed some light on things.

You're right about there being no rush though.
 
Sol

Sol

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 26, 2010
Messages
262
Location
USA
Good to hear that you don't need to rush into anything right now. I hope you aren't beating yourself up too much about not going in 6 to 7 months.

...or run away to somewhere where I get a different dentist every time so there's no need to get to know anybody.
I think if you re-read your original post you will know that a situation like you described above is not ideal or the answer. The white knuckle/clam up option just makes things more difficult for you and the staff. You mentioned taking the time to build up a relationship with your current dentist and how that helped you through. There is nothing to say that you couldn't do the same thing again (with the current dentist or a new one). It's not always easy but its doable with the right help.
 
letsconnect

letsconnect

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 1, 2005
Messages
5,269
Hi Tink, great to see you here and :welcome: back!

Sorry to hear that things have been rough. You said that it was some minor things that hit you seemingly out of nowhere.

I'm not sure if I'd describe things like your lovely hygienist leaving as minor (then again, I seem to act as a magnet for "The Hygienist from Hell" and "Jekyll and Hyde Hygienist" :D). Did your hygienist retire, or did they move? If they are still working nearby, perhaps you could continue seeing them (see this info on direct access).

You didn't really say what it was about the new dentist who joined the practice which perturbs you (it might be too personal to mention on the forum). Presumably you can continue to see your own dentist, so is it his mere presence that is unsettling? Depending on how many days a week he works there, perhaps it might be possible to avoid the practice during those days/times... Just thinking out loud here.

As Sol has said, you've done it before, and there is no reason why you won't be able to do it again. It sounds as if you've assembled some great people around you who will support you through this :)!

There is no rush, and you WILL get there eventually. Right now it might be a good idea to take a small step back, pamper yourself and get your energy back :grouphug:
 
krlovesherkids777

krlovesherkids777

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 26, 2017
Messages
2,934
Location
Minneapolis, MN
Tink,

I've only been here about 2 years, well maybe close to 3 now :).. so you may not know me,. just want to encourage you. You seem to have some great dental and personal resilience! I agree with the rest you seem to build up a great relationship and trust with your dentist and hygienist before and so believe you have everything it takes to do it now..

I know it is extremely hard losing a good dentist or hygienist , I know I panicked when my dentist left the first practice I met him, I calmed down and actually found him later at another practice.. but also good hygienists are a treasure so that is not easy, and allow yourself to grieve a bit. I really hope you can find another to build that trust up.

It is really hard and it is really emotional.. you definitely have company right here!! :grouphug:
 
M

Mugz

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 21, 2014
Messages
1,050
Location
Anywhere but "The Chair"
Hi Tink!

Welcome back! It’s great to “see” a familiar face...I totally remember you, your stories along the way and the amazing progress you made.
I’m so sorry to hear you’ve had a bit of a setback. Rest assured, though it may feel like it, you’re not completely back to “square one” . You’ve learned and TAUGHT many of us so much about perseverance, the process of desensitization and the ability to communicate your needs effectively. Be kind to yourself, you’ve done A LOT of real work successfully conquering a whopper of a phobia. I wish I had a quarter of the determination you’ve shown over the years.

That being said, I think you’re on the right track reaching out for help from a trauma specialist. I’ve done the same this past year. While I still can’t get to the dentist, I’ve learned a lot about trauma and triggers. It makes complete sense that a change in hygienist combined with another big stress would make you feel like everything was crashing down. It isn’t, but it can sure feel that way. Understanding why you feel a certain way because of past or present trauma is helpful and hopefully that’s what you’d experience with the right therapist. Please go easy on yourself. You’ve come so far. One step forward two back is OKAY...it really is.
 
letsconnect

letsconnect

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 1, 2005
Messages
5,269
You’ve learned and TAUGHT many of us so much about perseverance, the process of desensitization and the ability to communicate your needs effectively.
So true :respect:
 
T

Tink

Well-known member
Joined
May 14, 2013
Messages
755
Location
UK
Oh my goodness, you're all here! Honestly, it's so good to see you x

Mugz, thank you so much, I really needed to hear that. I'm in floods of tears over here, but in a good way. Thank you, really, truly.

I'm tired and I don't really know what to say but it's so good to have this.
 
T

Tink

Well-known member
Joined
May 14, 2013
Messages
755
Location
UK
krlovesherkids, not sure our paths crossed that much before, but I do remember you! Thank you for your kind words, company really is the thing I was looking for I think x
 
T

Tink

Well-known member
Joined
May 14, 2013
Messages
755
Location
UK
letsconnect, you're right, the lovely hygienist leaving was a heavier blow than I bargained for I think. She moved away, unfortunately out of range of public transport for me. Her replacement is lovely, and happens to be her best buddy, but it's still a bit weird and an adjustment for me.

The new guy - well, I'm probably doing him a disservice, but he's really, really heavily focused on the cosmetic surgery stuff & does a lot of botox and the like, and that stuff really freaks me out. (There's a whole massive can of worms there which I may go in to some day. It's caused some major friction with my regular dentist too). You'll laugh at this, but new guy is also exceptionally handsome & muscular & gives off a sort of showy Instagram vibe that freaks me out too 😆 (I know, I know, you all want to have the "oh no the new dentist is too pretty" problem!). I have some issues in this area I think. Not his fault, I'm told he's a really nice guy.

Yeah, he's just a new person arriving in the practise who I will likely never meet, the whole thing seems like one of those cases where a toddler sneezes and suddenly your whole house falls down.

--

I don't know how it's all going to play out. It's not entirely clear if things will work out with my current dentist, it may be that with the best will in the world, they simply don't have the expertise to provide the support I need now it's clear we're dealing with some pretty deep-seated messy trauma stuff. But, I have very very good people on the case, and a new person coming in for the mental health bit, so I will be ok in the end.

For now I need to sleep. Rest is definitely something I could do with.


Thank you all x
 
Dg6300

Dg6300

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 27, 2017
Messages
636
Location
US
You’re doing great. Keep it up. Keep posting here.
 
letsconnect

letsconnect

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 1, 2005
Messages
5,269
Sorry to hear that the lovely hygienist has moved out of range, though it's great to hear that her replacement is lovely :). And it sounds as if you've got a great support team in place :thumbsup!:!

The new guy - well, I'm probably doing him a disservice, but he's really, really heavily focused on the cosmetic surgery stuff & does a lot of botox and the like, and that stuff really freaks me out. (There's a whole massive can of worms there which I may go in to some day. It's caused some major friction with my regular dentist too). You'll laugh at this, but new guy is also exceptionally handsome & muscular & gives off a sort of showy Instagram vibe that freaks me out too 😆 (I know, I know, you all want to have the "oh no the new dentist is too pretty" problem!). I have some issues in this area I think. Not his fault, I'm told he's a really nice guy.
I see what you mean :D... (just perused what I believe to be his facebook page :p).

Yeah, I can see how this would be disconcerting - of course the overall choice of staff tends to reflect the ethos of a practice. So if your own preference is for minimally invasive dentistry, there will be a conflict between your own preferences and values and the ethos of your dental practice (even if that ethos may not be shared to the same extent by your own dentist).

On the other hand, you've had a very good run with him for the most part, and the standard of his work is excellent, which is a big bonus.

So I suppose it boils down to the connection you feel with him on an emotional level at this stage of your journey, and whether that rapport can be (re)built?
 
krlovesherkids777

krlovesherkids777

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 26, 2017
Messages
2,934
Location
Minneapolis, MN
krlovesherkids, not sure our paths crossed that much before, but I do remember you! Thank you for your kind words, company really is the thing I was looking for I think x

Tink, I hope things work out for you here , and trust and understanding can be built strong again ! I was just thinking as I was reading your post about new people coming into practice, even if you are not seeing them , its a little anxiety producing , especially if they are somehow triggering in one one or another. thinking of when my dentist was at a previous office, the first I met him at , there is no one at that office I would want to see, they were all triggering, and my anxiety would tell me "what if " you had an emergency or they switched you for some reason. aghh. the last guy that came into the office had been at another office and had a real nervous energy and looked like the awful dentist that traumatized me as a child. From what I understand he was a nice guy but I just really got anxious at the thought alone.. Thankfully .. never had to see any of the other dentists and when my dentist left I left too.. and happily found him several months later at another practice :). but just saying I so understand even seeing another dentist and the anxiety with the what ifs of this new person... Hope if you ever cross paths more it will be pleasant and positive

Until then I hope you get the full understanding, support and competance you need for your teeth and direct needs..
 
T

Tink

Well-known member
Joined
May 14, 2013
Messages
755
Location
UK
I see what you mean :D... (just perused what I believe to be his facebook page :p).
😆 Yeah, that's probably the guy!

Trouble for me is that I find that kind of person utterly terrifying & would normally avoid at all costs. It's just not my world at all. I just could never, ever live up to what I feel like is "their standard".

I've been reliably informed that he's actually a lovely guy, a lot of this is my issue, it's just really unfortunate that there's this massive 6ft phobia trigger wandering loose around the place now.

If I end up putting the pieces back together (that is the current plan) then I think I know how to fix this specific thing...if he's as nice as they all say, then all I really need to do is get them to introduce me to him so I can see that he's nice really, make him less of a threat. It's really really unlikely that he's going to recoil in horror and immediately start listing all the surgery he thinks I need to have to stop me from frightening children in the street 😆


Yeah, I can see how this would be disconcerting - of course the overall choice of staff tends to reflect the ethos of a practice. So if your own preference is for minimally invasive dentistry, there will be a conflict between your own preferences and values and the ethos of your dental practice (even if that ethos may not be shared to the same extent by your own dentist).
FWIW my own dentist has never once pushed any kind of cosmetic treatment on me at all, hasn't even suggested it, and he does tend to take a minimally invasive approach, especially given my phobia. He's mostly a "watch and wait" kind of a guy & will do it when it needs done.

He is a cosmetic dentist and describes himself as such but he really, genuinely only wants to do it if you want it. He wants to make people happy. His heart's in the right place. It honestly doesn't enter his mind that even the presence of this stuff in a place might make some of us feel bad about how we look. It's just not in his worldview. (Well-meaning cluelessness is kind of his thing.)

So that ethos is definitely there in the practise, but they really don't mean it in a "we think you are hideously ugly and need to be fixed" way. Nobody has judged me, ever, not once.

I still feel like some sort of hideous creature that shambled in by mistake & thought "this is nice, think I'll stay" though. It's just that they haven't noticed and thrown me out yet 😆

It's not just this practise these days though, it's all of them. I spent a while looking and it's very clear that an independent dental practise without any cosmetic stuff being marketed at all just doesn't exist any more. Even the NHS ones are increasingly like that. So my dentist is a product of the culture he works in, this is just normal now. The entire dental culture is kind of messed up.

It sucks, and it's a shame because there's this extra unnecessary barrier for me to get over to access dental care. It seems to be just the price you pay now.

(I know there is one more option - those NHS community dental service places I mentioned upthread are pure healthcare and completely cosmetic-free - that's plan B if plan A doesn't work out, I can get a referral if I need it.)


On the other hand, you've had a very good run with him for the most part, and the standard of his work is excellent, which is a big bonus.

So I suppose it boils down to the connection you feel with him on an emotional level at this stage of your journey, and whether that rapport can be (re)built?
Yes, it really does.

That, and whether he feels equipped to support me now that things have got so complex with my mental health. Seeing a mental health specialist that might help on that front, it's not my dentist's job to fix my mental health, he's just supporting cast.

If it doesn't work out, it won't be for the lack of trying, and at least we could shake hands and part on good terms.

Current plan is to see him in a couple of weeks and give it a go. It's not written off yet, and as you say I have great support in place. There is always a safety net.
 
T

Tink

Well-known member
Joined
May 14, 2013
Messages
755
Location
UK
I was just thinking as I was reading your post about new people coming into practice, even if you are not seeing them , its a little anxiety producing , especially if they are somehow triggering in one one or another.
[...]
the last guy that came into the office had been at another office and had a real nervous energy and looked like the awful dentist that traumatized me as a child. From what I understand he was a nice guy but I just really got anxious at the thought alone..
Thank you.

Yes, exactly this! It feels silly to be so bothered by somebody I'm unlikely to ever even cross paths with but then almost all phobia stuff feels a bit silly I guess. It doesn't matter how silly it is, it's still a real problem to be solved.
 
Top