• 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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mental health, EDs and oral hygiene



Junior member
Jul 12, 2022
TW: eating disorders, bulimia, anorexia

hi. i’ve had a rocky few years of dental care that have caused me to develop pretty serious anxiety around seeing a dentist/getting help. today i reached a breaking point and pretty much spiraled into all the worst case scenarios, which led me here. most everything i’m about to write about are things i’ve never told anyone in my personal life, even my parents, medical professionals, and best friends. i wanted to find a safe space and hopefully the reassurance and feedback of likeminded people, people who have been in similar situations, and people who know more about all this than i do. i also want to preface to say i’ve reached out to get a dentist appointment in the near future :) honestly i just wanted to talk openly about my experiences before i go to help ease the stress or get any advice.

growing up i was never afraid of the dentist. but when i hit my mid teen years the local dentist in my town changed and my childhood one retired. the new dentist was a little less nice, but honestly i never really noticed. however, at the time i was living alone with my abusive father (i cut off all contact with him a little over a year ago) and he decided the new dentist was a problem and basically didn’t let me go to my appointments or make any new ones. this was not unusual - i also haven’t seen the doctor since i was 10, have had to pay for my own eye care and mental health care for years, and even when i was young i had intense shame/guilt if i ever had anything wrong with my teeth, like being punished for having cavities. from 2019 on, i did not go to the dentist. i was too young to get access to my insurance to make my own appointments, couldn’t convince my father that i needed to see someone, and my mother’s side was couldn’t afford for me to go uninsured.

in 2018, i developed severe anorexia that then merged into bulimia. for two years i took really good care of my teeth, to make myself feel like i was “making up for” the bulimia’s effect on my oral health (i know how stupid this sounds but in my ED-brained head it was all i could do). after the terrible family situations, my mental health had very steadily declined, and i relapsed with bulimia at the start of 2020 - but this time, instead of using my fingers to make myself throw up, i used the end of my toothbrush. i can’t really explain what happened in my head, but after i made my second ED ‘recovery’, i went almost six months without brushing my teeth. it was like the toothbrush/any thought of dental care was a trigger, so i just kind of buried the problem. i am very aware of how horrendous this is and trust me, i regret it every day and wish i could change it.

i am now over a year clean from bulimic purging. i got help for my mental health and am slowly on an upward trajectory! and i’ve been brushing my teeth twice a day for nearly that whole time. it was extremely difficult at first, but i’m so happy to say it’s getting better.

the question here is - is it too late? i’m of relatively good health lately, am doing my best to eat a balanced diet (although i let myself eat sugar and such as not doing that is a slippery slope), and have started to take care of myself, and today had the anxiety-spiral-induced final push to book a dentist appointment. i’m prepared for cavities, gingivitis, or tooth damage (whilst trying not to absolutely terrify myself with thoughts of worst case scenarios), but i’m not prepared to be told it’s too late to turn it around.

i know my circumstances are individual and there’s no formulaic answer for a question like that. i also know this isn’t a substitute for professional help - i’m seeing a dentist ASAP. i guess i just wanted to know if anyone is/has been in a similar situation and hear some voices of reassurance that are more educated on the topic than i, or even advice from others who have dealt with mental health/ED blocks relating to any type of physical health. just hearing anything would make me feel less afraid.

thank you so much for reading. if you’ve been or are in a similar headspace know that you’re not alone <3 sending love, hugs, and good health! thank you.
Hi Sadie! And welcome :welcome:

So happy you decided to make such a step and make an account on here to get support. That’s a huge thing to do, and an accomplishment you should celebrate. I also want to say congratulations on your recovery! What an amazing feat you’ve accomplished!

I can assure you that it doesn’t sound like it’s too late at all. In general, unless you have other conditions, it can take years and years for your teeth to get to the point where it can’t be turned around.

As a reference, I have to get partial dentures because some of my teeth are too late to be saved (around four, maybe six), but it took over a decade before they got to that point. And all my other teeth can be fixed, which is pretty amazing. With brushing twice a day and eating a balanced diet, it sounds like you’re doing everything possible on your end which is really good! And you’ve gone ahead and made that first appointment. That’s so huge, good for you! I think you’ll be just fine, and yes, you aren’t alone at all. None of us are. We got this!

Something else I’d like to say: I have severe, severe trauma relating to a dentist incident when I was a child. Because of that, the sight of a toothbrush or anything dental would cause me to panic, so I myself was not taking care of my teeth daily. It happens. Don’t worry about living in regret for what you did (or didn’t do in the past), all you can do is focus on what you can do now. I’m brushing my teeth twice a day, flossing and using a tongue scraper. It’s hard to imagine I could ever do that, but here we are.

Teeth are actually pretty strong, like really ridiculously strong. They can stand up to a lot (believe it or not. It often seems like not but it’s true.) So like I said, I think you’ll be just fine. It’s really never too late in any case. For you, even for me. There’s so much dentists can do for us now, and that’s really what matters.

Best of luck to you! :grouphug: