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Need Major Dental Work But Afraid to Go/Too Many Choices



Junior member
Mar 9, 2019
Hey everyone, I have a bit of a Problem regarding my current dental situation. I'm in my late 20's (29) and have already had major dental work, but continue to need major dental work. Past failures of dental work have made me afraid to go at all, lest I choose the wrong procedure and eventually lose all of my teeth because nothing is working. I have a severe phobia of being toothless. I can deal with implants, but being toothless is kind of a nightmare scenario, so much so that I have nightmares about them falling out, or nightmares about going to the dentist.

A bit of backstory: The reason I have such major dental problems is because, as a teenager and in my early 20's, I was on antidepressants that likely caused dry mouth, and with depression, I did not take care for my teeth for months at a time/drank lots of soda/and I suspect the anxiety caused me to grind, either in my sleep or during the day.

Since then I have had generalized tooth decay on almost every tooth. There's probably 7-8 that don't have cavities, but miraculously I still have 28 of them. I recently made the move of having my last wisdom tooth removed, since my wisdom teeth had worse infections than the rest, and I had been advised by nearly every dentist to get them removed. However, the tongue nerve on that side was damaged and I am still recovering. : (

The pattern of decay I have on my teeth is somewhat similar to meth users, and I don't mind dentists asking about it because I understand that the causes were probably similar, and one needs to understand that I'm not using before giving treatment. They do not look as bad as the stereotype (People can't tell by looking in social situations, but obviously a dentist can tell). The reason is because my cavities are all on the tooth "necks," near the gumline. They are a bit fractured and yellow, and I have increased sensitivity in these areas.

I have had the fronts of my teeth repeatedly filled on the top, and the fillings have been lasting progressively longer each time that I return due to my improved habits, but I have been quite disappointed to learn that a few of them have had the tendency to "leak" around the fillings, and the leaking seems to happen fairly quickly. Because ALL of my teeth are like this, I'm quite afraid of all of my teeth being drilled into oblivion. I quit drinking sugared soda several years ago and now have quit diet soda as well, and only drink non-water beverages 2-4 times a week, always with a straw. I generally try to take it easy on the sugary snacks, and always rinse my mouth, brush 2-3 times a day, and floss every day. I also use fluoride toothpaste/chew sugarless gum often.

I have seen three dentists recently to address the cavities, but have not decided on an individual or treatment due to fear of choosing either the wrong treatment plan or the wrong dentist, or both. All dentists have suggested veneers on my most problematic teeth (I only have cavities on the fronts/sides, no cavities on the chewing surfaces or the interiors), but my most problematic teeth are...a lot of my teeth, so I worry about that as well. One dentist suggested crowns on my worst molars and veneers on the problematic non-molars. The dentist that suggested that also suggested root canals for those two molars (bottom lower left). Before I saw my last two dentists, everyone thought that the plaque I had there were just stains, until a recent dentist did a very good cleaning and realized the cervical cavities there. They were much worse than necessary because no one had known they were there for years.

However, none of my teeth give me any sort of pain unless the cavities come in contact with something highly cold, highly sugary, or physical pressure is exerted on the cavity specifically (NOT the rest of the tooth, the non-cavity parts of the tooth experience no pain).

One of my other concerns is that, although I am a United States citizen, I do not live in the United States, I live South of the border. This is not for health or dental tourism reasons, my spouse lives here so whichever dentist I go to I will be able to go back to repeatedly without flying, and it will hopefully be a long-term relationship. But, I need to trust someone.

The dentist who first discovered that I had cervical caries in my molars is a younger dentist that I was referred to here by a neighbor. He took photos of my teeth using some kind of video screen that he had mounted above the chair to show me my exact problems. I thought that was nice, and he did a very nice cleaning that finally cleared away all the plaque hiding my cavities, that everyone else thought were stains. He wanted to put on 11 veneers, including molar veneers, which I've heard may fall out easily. I had my wisdom tooth out with his specialist.

The other dentist wants to root canal + crown the molars, and do veneers on the rest of the problem teeth. He's a little bit older, but not old. He's a dental surgeon who has worked with my spouse's family for ~5 years. Although there haven't been that severe dental problems in the family as mine, he has apparently done a crown or two for them and they have not reported any problems. I liked his bedside manner a bit more as he was less pushy about treatment options and assured me that I didn't need to rush anything. He works with US-made crowns as well for a 50% price increase.

I do not mind if my teeth are a bit yellow or not super super aesthetic, but I want them to be there, and I really wanted to stabilize them health-wise. Can anyone give me advice on this? I need to do something (obviously) and I want to start my journey for real, but I feel really paralyzed due to choices, horror stories, things that could go wrong, and an infinite a number of concerns that I'm always making up in my head. I suffer from OCD, which usually results on my focusing negatively on a specific problem in my life, making it difficult to function normally or make decisions in relation to the problem (this time it's focused on my teeth).

Thank you everyone!


Super Moderator
Staff member
Sep 18, 2017
Hi Timbuktooth (what a lovely nickname, by the way) :welcome:,

It‘s good to read that you are about to change your situation and if you managed to see different dentists already, then this is a good sign of you getting back on track. I am sorry to read about your damaged nerve and hope you recover soon.

While I can’t tell you much about the real treatment options your dentists offered you, generally speaking, finding a dentist you can trust is the most crucial thing and this applies not only for the part of having good chemistry with your dentist but also to the treatment plan. You mentioned being afraid of chosing the wrong treatment plan several times in your post and I have to say that carrying the responsibility for chosing a treatment option if you are not a dentist yourself sounds like a very hard thing to do. That‘s why a good dentist should be able to help you with this and tell you what is happening in your mouth, what needs to get done, what are your options (and you always have options and they have pros and cons etc.), what are the different consequences coming from those options and what would be your dentists preference and why.
A good dentist should also be interested in finding ways to help you with your anxiety instead of just treating your teeth. If you have concerns about anything, your dentist should be happy to talk to you about this and explain to you all that you need in order to feel confident to start the treatment. Last but not least a good dentist should also be willing to find ways to prevent future problems and keep your teeth healthy long term. I can only encourage you to keep on looking until you find someone who you feel is supportive and trustworthy..

Hope you find someone you feel happy with soon