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My experience of overcoming and dealing with fear of dentist



Junior member
Oct 9, 2021
Hi all,
Thought I'd share my experience as this forum has been very helpful to me.

I've always been afraid of thr dentist due to my childhood dentist being very unsympathetic and treatments always being painful.

Because of this I went from 1998 to 2012 without seeing a dentist until a tooth broke and I needed it completely rebuilt with a titanium post. I had this done under local and don't remember being that scared and it was pain free but hadn't gone back until a few months and in that time I developed a full blown phobia.

Since late 2019 the tooth that was rebut gave me constant pain that I lived with along with really bad intermittent pain in some of my other upper molars. Plus my two upper wisdom teeth resembled icebergs they had decayed so much. Basically I knew I needed a lot of work done so did what any good phobic would and ignored it and hoped it would go away ?

Anyway things got too much in June this year when one of my teeth was so bad I literally couldn't sleep for 3 days even taking the strongest pain meds I could find.

So I booked in for a checkup. Even the checkup I was so scared in the days leading up I couldn't think about anything else. I tried meditation, breathing exercises etc, nothing helped. I have no suggestions to anyone to eliminate fear in the lead up to a visit I guess its something we just have to deal with.

Anyway, I had researched and picked a dentist that deals with nervous patients (Brightside Dental, Bounds Green) and the checkup was great, did a full set of x rays and was very gentle examine my teeth (I feared someone jabbing my broken teeth with a sharp pick but there was none of that). He calmly explained that I had level 3 gum disease, needed a porcelain only for my previously rebuilt tooth and 3 other fillings. Plus the two upper wisdom teeth had to come out. This was actually about what I expected. Agreed to have all the work done in two sessions under sedation.

Rather than attacking it head on boomed in the sessions for September which in hindsight was a bad idea as by the time of the first treatment I was a mess. Absurdly terrified and very unclear what sedation meant or would feel like. I was worried the sedation would give me a heart attack or I'd never wake up from it or it wouldn't work.

Anyway, first treatment was both wisdom teeth removed, my previously rebuild tooth prepared for the only and temporary filling and a deep clean for the hygienist. I'll explain how sedation went for me as I would have found this helpful.

In my case they struggled to find a vein. After the second failed attempt to insert the IV I was in full freak out mode saying I want to leave but the dentist kept me calm. The IV didn't hurt at all, they got it in on attempt number 3 and I went straight to sleep. Didn't even feel the room go funny, literally one minute I was talking to the various dentists / surgeons, the next I'm under. I did wake up twice during the procedure, which was 2.5 hours in total, but in both cases it didn't cause any concerns. I woke up mid removal of one of the wisdom teeth - someone had my lip fish-hooked and the oral surgeon was literally digging away at the tooth with something. Now this would usually cause me to have a panic attack but due to the sedation I very clearly remember being very calm and just curious about the whole thing. Absolutely zero fear or pain or panic, just curiosity as to why he was digging about so aggressively! Went back under very quickly (was probably awake for 30 seconds max) and woke again later on, asked if they'd got the wisdom teeth out, they said yes and I went back under! Next thing I remember is waking up and being led back to the car by my wife.

Healing was fine. Wasn't ever very painful, just discomfort and I was back on normal food and smoking after a week and the wisdom teeth extraction sites have healed perfectly.

Had my second treatment today (more hygienist treatments, 3 fillings and the placement of the only). Was waaaaay less nervous in the buildup to this one but wasn't nerve free by any means. Sedation went exactly the same, including a wake up. This time I woke up during the hygienist bit, this time it was a bit uncomfortable, but again there was no sense of panic or fear. One thing that was weird and I may have been dreaming this part but at one point they put a tissue or towel over my face and seemed to be spraying water through it into my mouth. Sounds a bit like waterboarding so I'm sure this actually didn't happen haha!

Anyway this was today and I'm typing this with zero discomfort even, let alone pain.

The main points I want to make I suppose are:

1) no matter how scared you are, book a checkup. The checkup itself will be fine.
2) If you can find somewhere that specialises in nervous patients, it makes a huge difference.
3) If you need extensive treatment and you have no physical issues with it use sedation, it makes the procedures anxiety and pain free.
4) I didn’t find any way to make my fear or anxiety go away before the procedures. I think as phobics we just need to accept we will experience this ahead of time, but
5) I'm on such a high having finally sorted my teeth out. This has made me miserable for years and it's such a huge weight off my shoulders. If I can do it, anyone on here can do it, I guarantee it.

Good luck everyone.
Hi @Ollie1979, thanks so much for sharing your story here and giving hope to others! I hope you don't mind me moving this into the "Success Stories" section, because that's where I feel it belongs?

Congratulations and enjoy your success ?!!!
@Ollie1979 I am replying to your old post because I am booked into the same dentist, strangely enough. And like you, two 2.5 hour appointments with IV. An extraction, fillings and cleaning. Must be their standard practice to do as much as they can while we are out of it. I have had IV once and remember nothing. That was only for 1 hour. I am nervous but not terrified like the first time with IV. My fear is of waking up during these longer procedures - but you say it wasn't terrifying?