• 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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New to the site - looking for support to take the next step.



Junior member
Feb 12, 2023
Hi I’m Helen. I’m 29 years old and haven’t been to a regular dentist in about 12 years – not since I turned 18 and couldn’t be forced to go. Apologies in advance for the massive wall of text, but I feel a backstory might help enlighten where my concerns lie.

So here’s my story. For up to when I was ten years old I had no trouble with my teeth. In fact I actually enjoyed going to the dentist – mostly getting a half day off of school and a sticker.

So all the trouble started when I was 12. Went for a regular check up as was the norm and the Dentist sits back and looks forlorn and breaks the news that I had some cavities on two back molars, and that would require filling and therefore numbing. I have a lifelong fear of needles – I hate them in my arms let alone in my mouth – so cue a panic attack of me jumping out the chair as it was rising up and looking between the nurse, the dentist and my mum and just repeating ‘No! No! No! No!’ and crying. Past that I can’t remember exactly what was said, but I can say he was not sympathetic. He scolded me, which I didn’t really register properly past my hyperventilating. From what I gathered he said something like calm down and tried to explain something, which again I can’t remember. I do remember the SOB getting me to open my gob again as I was sobbing to show my mother the cavities as if to prove he was telling the truth. Since I was was meek and crumbled under authority of adults – I couldn’t say no. It’s a thought that enrages me to this day

Appointment ended and we left, with me a soppy mess and in full view of the other patients in the waiting room. Humiliated and in shock. Worth noting that my mother phoned up afterwards to complain and said she didn’t believe the dentist handled my fear well. He apologised, thinking that the best way to handle hysterics was to be blunt. That was it though – trust was gone and wasn’t coming back.

So the appointment to get the fillings was set and I was on and off with worrying about it. It was the sort of thought that cropped up from time to time and I would get anxious until other things would distract. Roll around to the appointment and I went into the room freaking out, crying, but trying to hold it in. I told them to let me calm down myself – which I did – and then he gently told me they would instead refer me to the dental hospital for xrays and such. It felt like a reprieve from execution.

Shoot ahead a few more months and I head to the hospital. All good mostly, wasn’t too anxious oddly enough and got the xrays. My memory gets fuzzy, but I do recall sitting on a ward bed as they discuss my xrays and crying and that they said I would be better having the teeth out that filled as they were actually pretty badly damaged below the enamel. Turns out they think the enamel was weakened when I had antibiotics as a baby for a bad ear infection and for some reason those teeth just broke under the strain. They also decided to take out the healthy two top teeth above those busted ones so the rest should line up properly and prevent further issues. Thankfully, they decided to knock me out to do it.

Fast forward to the operation day and go in freaking out. Wasn’t too bad in the waiting room, it was the walk to the theatre that led to me crying and panicing. They had put this cream on the back of my hand for putting in the IV. Needle phobic me was not happy with this. Eventually, with mucus and tears flowing down my face, they decided to use gas. I kept coughing and tried to push it away because I was struggling to calm down and they pushed the thing back over my mouth. I remember saying I feel funny and someone going that’s just normal and being pulled down into this black hole. Woke up later in a ward bed with cotton wads in my mouth and high as a kite. Got taken home shortly after that.

So for the next 6 years I ended up going to this same dentist. It was a tense time and I was very wary of him, but it was easier to go with the devil you know because A- he was a nhs dentist and finding another would be difficult and B- despite events, he wasn’t the sort to make you have treatment you didn’t need. Nothing much needed for those years. I had an upper molar that hit directly into the middle of a lower molar and caused some wear – and developed two gaps behind my lower incisors where the teeth shifted. They are in the process of closing up as my wisdom teeth push the gaps closed. I also have a gap between my front teeth, but that is genetic. At some point the dentist recommended putting this uv resin on two back molars – no idea what the procedure is and I’m too shaky to look it up. From then on it was normal check ups with him occasionally scraping off a tiny bit of plaque. Then I hit 18 years old and as a now legal adult, decided I would not step foot in that room ever again.

Mum got angry at me. We usually had block appointments – so one after the other to save on travel and time off from school / work – so she went and I flatly refused. I was under the impression that having literally no work needed to be done after the uv resin and never needing a deep clean, that I would no longer require a dentist visit. Not the wisest choice, but given every visit was anxiety and stress, I thought to cut that cord while I could.

Fast forward a few more years and that dentist moved out of the UK. He was replaced by a man whom my mother was not pleased with. He was an NHS dentist, but wasn’t too gentle with the tools. So she switched to a private practise.


Backstory aside, so why am I here on this forum? Well, a couple of years ago I noticed some significant build up on my lower teeth on the inside – thick white build up which was either plaque and/ or a build up of limescale – because I live in a hard water area. Before that I have had no issues or at least didn’t notice. I took this as a sign to buck up my dental hygiene and have managed to remove all that build up myself through careful cleaning with pick brushes, flossing and brushing. Since then I have been hyper aware of my oral hygiene - brush twice a day – floss every evening – started using a water flosser recently as well.

My weakness is coffee though. I usually have a cup a day, heavy on soya milk and drunk through a straw. Afterwards I would rinse with mouthwash most occasions – but I will admit to not being diligent as should be. This has caused some discolouration on my teeth – very slight yellowing although that appear almost grey white in low light. Although I’m also wondering if this could be my age/ genetics that means I have naturally more translucent enamel. Anyway, I have tried whitening strips which seemed to ease the colour distortion – at least as far as I know – as the changes are very subtle. I also have some slight discolourations in the centre of a couple of back molars – the ones that had the uv resin coating – which I wonder if is to do with the resin wearing away or becoming stained. Now I am also worrying that it could be something worse.

The trouble is, I can only really know if I bite the metaphoric bullet go to an appointment – the thought of which scares me s***less. What also scares me though is the thought of missing the window of opportunity and go now when I have no pain / that obvious tooth decay and if things need to be done, then they can catch things early.

My fear stems from going to an appointment and getting ‘bad news’ which trigger back to that 12 year old me who while the dentist ‘tried to be gentle about it’ really failed in understanding. It’s not the reaction of the dentist in general that frightens me – it’s the wave of anxiety that comes with receiving that news that I need fillings and that involves the dreaded needles. Alas this has also extended to me fearing getting a tooth drilled and being awake for that. In fact any real messing with my mouth or person in general is distressing. To even write this and open up to others is something I have avoided doing as the mere thought causes me bad anxiety.

I suppose I want to reach out to fellow dentist phobics for support and maybe tips on how they’ve got over this mountain. This damned dentist phobia is something I just can’t bring myself to face – but ignoring the problem and pretending it doesn’t exist isn’t great either. The worry of what could be wrong is also getting to me more recently and that’s no good.

I don’t think I can bring myself to having a male dentist again. There would be no trust. The only bright side is as an adult I do feel more in control than as a kid who is at the mercy of their parents/ the authority of the dentist. Other than that, I just don’t know how to make myself take that first step and make the appointment in the first place…

Kudos to those who read my wall of text lol. Thanks in advance.
Hey, maybe you could email dentists and ask if they're taking on if you're thinking of going NHS first of all. If they are try to explain your fears and see how they respond, explain you'd prefer to see a female dentist. It probably doesn't mean much but I've recently had fillings without the numbing injection and it wasn't bad at all. Sorry to hear about the past though, just know no dentist will judge you for it, make sure to look at their reviews too. You've got this
Hi Helen. There's a technique - if you can find a dentist or specialist sedationist who uses it, look online - that uses nasal sedation. That would cut out the needle phobia. After you're sedated, you wouldn't know about the treatment or any local given.

This is my first post here, but I've been reading this forum for years (as a fellow phobic, but of being numb not of needles) and I'm sure other people will be able to offer you the extra support you need. One of these days I'll pluck up courage to do a post about my own problems!
Hello and thank you for sharing. I’m glad you got this all out.

How are you feeling now?
Hello, well done for sharing. You’re braver than you think. I was in a similar situation bad memories phobias, hid letters to avoid visits. Rewind back to 2020 I had pain and had to register with a dentist. By registering myself I felt a sense of control as I was able to choose a practice, I went with the one my boyfriend attended and it was a total different experience how kind and supportive the staff were. I know it seems impossible now but one day those bad memories will be replaced with care and kindness from a new dentist, a one that is right for you. You have made the first step by posting here. Well done