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No Turning Back: My Journey to a Radiant Smile

A

APhobicQueen

Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2022
Messages
57
Location
Canada
It’s happening.

I emailed Carrie. I have the green light.

I’m booking the GA date either for September, or the next available.

I’m…I don’t know what I am to be honest. Excited? Terrified, of course; wondering if anyone has invented a time machine yet?

Now that being said: budget is limited. I have only about 5k I can spend in one session, so in my email (I chose to email because on the phone I tend to get jumbled up and I wanted to be clear and concise) I was very clear about that and how some things will have to be left to a later date. Mainly, the fillings. And also paying for my partials themselves (I asked if it was possible to pay for those closer to the date I’d get my impressions, in other words, after the three months of healing and jaw bone shrinking is done.) But still. Extractions, x-rays and the two restorations would all be done. Under GA.

I’m not sure how I feel about the fact I’ll have to approach fillings without just being unconscious because man, that really was the best option! No worries about hearing a…you know…drill, or seeing things coming towards my mouth. I might see about IV sedation in that case though. I don’t know if they’d be willing or if they’d say that for fillings I should just try laughing gas and see how it goes. I do have an anxiety prescription for lorazepam as well so perhaps it would be a case of having some of that before I go?

But I mean that’s far in the future. Right now, we have to focus on the treatment. The treatment that will be getting done in a few months. The treatment I kind of never thought I’d book but here I am. I’m doing it. I’m on this path, it’s happening.

I think I’m in too much shock to make a lot of coherent sense right now which oops. But I’m sure I’ll have a recap of my back and forth with Carrie later.

Also! Update on the whole “are my wisdom teeth making their appearance?”: in short, I don’t think so, other than maybe some shifting, but what ended up happening was a spiral where I freaked out about my molar being sore (which I mean, might be because of the cavity it has, perhaps getting a wee bit worse?), and then my gums felt sore and then my jaw, and oddly enough, it’s mainly been my inner cheek? Me being me, I was like “WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?” And then I went down a rabbit hole of nerve pain on the face and was halfway convinced it was happening.

Not my proudest moment but I poked and prodded at my jaw so much it now hurts quite a bit because I think I bruised it, in my attempts to see what was wrong with it :ROFLMAO: Why am I like this?
But in any case, it does hurt like a bruise, and the pain gets worse with stress and anxiety which makes me think It’s probably not being helped by the immense muscle tension. I think I must be holding my jaw and the muscles of my face stiff without even realizing? That maybe I’m so used to it, I don’t remember what it’s like to not. That happens when you’re constantly paralyzed by fear.

The other thing of course, is holding my jaw stiff is another way for me to be conscious of my problem teeth, you know the ones that need to be extracted. I think I said this in a previous post, but it’s like I don’t know how to hold my mouth because I’m worried about causing myself problems.

What a relief it will be to not have to worry about that! At least after the initial healing is done. Honestly, I’m pretty freaked out about that. Pain, blood, possibility of dry socket, all the things I can’t do. I know I’ve seen a lot of people on here who have gone through it and come out the other side, and there are so many YouTube videos too. But right now it feels like a lot and so much.

Confession: my dental trauma, my severe PTSD, is probably the first trauma I ever had. It might have been the catalyst for my anxiety disorders, and my mental illness (other things have happened since then but still, it remains.) And now…years later, over a decade…I’m confronting it. I’m coming full circle, back to the beginning and it’s just…yeah. It’s something.

Like I said, it’s a lot right now so I’m not the most coherent, but hopefully I will be in the future.

Let’s go!
 
A

APhobicQueen

Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2022
Messages
57
Location
Canada
Ah, it seems it’s another bad day for me, which is only to be expected isn’t it? I need to vent and here’s my journal so here we are. (As an aside, I haven’t heard back from Carrie yet either, which I won’t lie is a bit frustrating. I want to get this booked!)

It sucks that I can’t be strong right now, I really hate that. Somehow I feel like I want to be the one showing everyone how to not be afraid, etc, etc. But that would be inauthentic. So here we are, raw and exposed.

My fears are such a confusing mess at the moment. It really is ”rock meet hard place” because I’m afraid of seemingly everything. Right now, I’m worried about my cracked tooth. Yesterday, I noticed the crack at the top of the tooth (right before the crater that is the hole in it) and I hadn’t noticed it up there before. I mean, it was always there, the dentist said so, but this was the first time I saw it at the top, so I freaked out. And then I got more anxious when I became aware of it. I can just feel it there, in my mouth, this big ‘ol cracked and decayed tooth and it‘s a lot. Feels like a monster under the bed honestly.

Truthfully, this is what has me terrified. If it’s getting worse, what if that continues and I don’t make it to the next general date? What if I have to go in before then and have it out under less than ideal circumstances? As in a deviance from the plan. What then? I don’t know how I can handle that and I’m so scared of that happening. I‘ve been assured so many times that it’s really not that bad but I…I don’t know, the tools, the needle, the numbing, the blood, someone in my mouth, I just don’t know how I’d be able to cope.

Of course, this hasn’t happened yet and there’s not even any saying that it will, but it’s left me paralyzed. Today, I haven’t even been able to get out of bed except for bodily needs. I’ve had nothing to eat, haven’t taken my vitamins, haven’t done anything joyful. I have a headache too but I can’t even bothered to get up to get some painkillers.

It’s like if I move, something awful will happen. I feel like I can feel bits and pieces of the tooth coming off in my mouth and me swallowing them. I know that’s not actually happening (at least to my knowledge it isn’t) and it’s just my anxiety giving me this poison to feast on so it can grow and grow and grow.

There is a part of me that wonders if I should have just tried it with IV sedation because it would have been cheaper and I could have gotten an appointment much sooner, but then…I couldn’t have actually. My family explicitly told me I’m not to have an appointment (barring an emergency situation) before August because of a family member’s wedding in July. That was a blow. Not to go into family dynamics on here but they are messy in my family and this? This was the real icing on the cake to something long suffering. Apparently not having any front teeth would be a problem. Never mind that I can’t show off my teeth now so it’d be pretty much the same thing, the only difference would be that I wouldn’t be paranoid about something happening to a tooth.

Leaving the house right now, which I have to do plenty of in the upcoming week and then for the wedding for a few days feels like too much. The wedding is three hours from home, which while not the longest distance is still a ways away. I’m also in the wedding party. So I can’t just sit quietly in a corner or anything, no. I have to be social and pretend I’m fine. Maybe by then I will be, but right now I am really not fine.

I do have a counsellor to talk to, because I do want to help my mental health. Unfortunately, she had to cancel our appointment and it’s not till next week. She doesn’t know about my dental phobia yet but I plan to tell her and open up about it. I really hope she can help.

I will say something to you all though. A revelation of sorts did happen. I’m not sure if I mentioned
this in a journal entry (I think I must have but…) I’ve never had a dental procedure done in my life.

The only thing I have ever had done at a dentist’s office was cleanings and some version of exams.

And I always wondered, why I was so terrified of procedures. Of course, the fact I’d never gone through one could make it scary, you hear the horror stories, you build it up in your head. And I think my trauma from the hygienist as a child made my brain, in attempting to protect me, associate anything dental with trauma. However, I did leave one little part of that whole thing out. My brother was traumatized too. Well, not in the way I was, but the dentist drilled his teeth with no freezing as a child during the same appointment in which I was physically assaulted. My brother didn’t know what freezing was so he refused it and my parents weren’t allowed in the room so they didn’t know, until my brother was calling for my dad and staff went to get him, telling him to help “hold my brother down“ since he was being “uncooperative.” (If I remember right there were, in fact, multiple staff members holding my brother down so he wouldn’t get out of the chair and would stay still. To this day, I said we should have contacted the Dental Association in Canada to report the dentist‘s practice. There is no way what happened to my brother and I was acceptable.)

Now my brother is older. And I have always had a problem with my brother crying or being upset. He’s the older brother, and he never cries or gets upset, not like I do/did. I was the sensitive one, the baby, the crier. Knowing what I know now about PTSD, I wonder if witnessing my brother have such an experience (I can’t remember that day well from my own PTSD but I do think my brother might have been crying? Or…something. He was upset, that was for sure) gave me PTSD. It made me think dentists and dental work was like that, and that’s one reason I never went to a dentist and why I became terrified. My little brain saw that and was traumatized on top of my own experiences.

Anyway. I don’t really know what to do. I’m scared of having my this tooth still in there for at least another three months, and I’m scared of having it out under any circumstances less than general. I’m scared of having to go through other procedures without general and scared of leaving my house to go anywhere that isn’t a dentist’s office for my appointment to get them out. I’m scared of the healing process. I’m scared of something happening, because my crack is a vertical one and I don’t know what that would mean if it breaks or something happens. What if the tooth is just there and dangling? What if it ends up twisted or something?

Rationality is so hard when you’re severely phobic and riddled with PTSD. And it’s hard too because I keep running my tongue over the back of my tooth and feeling the crack and thinking it feels much worse than it did before. Thinking that it‘s more delicate and will just shatter soon.

Ugh. I hate it. This sucks.

(P.S. in case you’re wondering, my brother doesn’t have any lasting trauma from the incident with the dentist. He has one where he lives now that he adores. I mean he’s never been comfortable with dentists, but he has no phobia or anything. Which is hilarious because objectively what he went through was far worse than me and yet…here we are.)
 
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A

APhobicQueen

Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2022
Messages
57
Location
Canada
Just a quick update today to say that I think I’m moving in the right direction. Sort of. I’ve been trying to gather information as much as I can, but hmm, it hasn’t been the most encouraging (when I say information, I mean, in case I do end up having to go to plan b and not do general.) IV sedation apparently doesn’t work all that well in those who have a lot of adrenaline going. It burns through the system too quick.

That of course, would not be ideal. But since I’ve never had it, I wouldn’t know what my reaction would be, of course. And this is only assuming that I’d need my four teeth out before the next general date I can get.

I did watch someone get a filling done under IV sedation which was good! It was a Youtube video. It actually helped in identifying for me what made me nervous. For example, I wasn’t really bothered at all by the sounds? Or even the instruments. In fact, it took me a long time to realize I was watching the dentist drill into their patient’s tooth. That bodes well doesn’t it? Honestly, the parts that really made me anxious where when the chair was initially being tilted back, when the assistant (very kindly) kept telling the patient to open their mouth wider and the block that keeps the jaw open. That thing looks huge, how on earth do you get that in there without gagging? o_O

But in any case, the filling for the video took less than 20 minutes and I was shocked at how easily it was done. So that‘s good! Since I do need so many done LOL

I also bought a manual toothbrush and a tongue scraper! First time buying a tongue scraper but I’m hoping it can also help my gag reflex if I can slowly work it back further and further. The reason I bought a manual toothbrush was to test it out and relearn the proper technique for brushing (by the way, was anyone else taught the circular brushing technique as a child? I swear I used to the do the recommend strokes method, but was told I was wrong. How funny is that? My life is a lie.) Anyway, I plan to use a manual and a denture toothbrush once I have my partials, and just retire the electric. I think long term, it’ll be too much money to maintain an electric toothbrush, a manual and all my denture supplies. Plus, you can’t brush your gums with an electric toothbrush so it’s simply easier for me to use a manual for my whole mouth.

As for food, it’s sort of hilarious to watch me eat now. I put food in the corner of my mouth right? Well I also put it in the corner of my lips too to avoid my front tooth as much as possible and I’ve ended up getting stains on the corner as if I’m a baby. I’m sure I’ll be very glamorous as the wedding in July :ROFLMAO: I can still say I’m not eating as much as I used to, but I‘m trying to be better. It’s very diffcult at the moment though. I never realzied how much I took my teeth for granted until now. Those little guys really have been working their hardest, and I suppose I owe them the favour to work my hardest to get them back in shape (well, the ones that can be saved.)

Well time for me to go to bed, I’m exhausted. Anyway, let’s hope Carrie gets back to me soon (I can’t believe I’m hoping for that. But you know, times are changing.)
 
letsconnect

letsconnect

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 1, 2005
Messages
5,712
Hi @APhobicQueen, hope you don't mind me chipping in, but whatever you read about adrenaline interfering with IV sedation is simply not true. Virtually anyone who needs/wants IV sedation will have sky high adrenaline on the day, and the whole point of sedation is to make you completely calm and relaxed. We've got some more info on IV sedation here if you haven't already come across it:

https://www.dentalfearcentral.org/help/sedation-dentistry/iv-sedation/


The video you saw (which seemed to feature a bite block) is not representative of a "typical" filling appointment. It's quite rare (in the UK at least) for a bite block to be used, and even if it was offered, there's no reason why you couldn't decline. Some people find it easier to hold their mouth open with a bite block, but that's a matter of personal preference.

Finally, going back to your very first post, you mentioned that both your mother and your father suggested getting a second opinion. I would strongly encourage you to heed their advice and get a second opinion before making any decisions about your treatment. We have some pages here with tips on how to find a phobic-friendly dentist:


Wishing you all the very best :grouphug:
 
A

APhobicQueen

Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2022
Messages
57
Location
Canada
@letsconnect Thank you so much for the resources! And I don’t mind you chipping in at all, especially with accurate information!

I’m glad to hear the adrenaline part isn’t true. To be honest I felt a little suspicious of it myself because if someone were already calm at the dentist, would they need IV sedation? But I saw so many people insisting it didn’t work for them because of that that I just went with it and thought “all right then.” I’ll definitely read the post you linked me to!

Yes, I believe it was a bite block or a “prop” I think they called it in the video. They didn’t ask the patient if she wanted it or not, and simply put it in her mouth. Personally, I think the lack of consent of the patient is part of what made me anxious. I’m glad to know I can refuse if need be, because I really wasn’t fond of how it looked.

I’m not sure that I will get a second opinion but thank you! I don’t think the dentist was lying about what I needed done, although I think there was a bit of confusion and crossed wires (mostly because she didn’t have a chance to really see in my mouth at all, so she was sort of guessing what was going on.) This is the first dental practice I’ve been to where I didn’t have awful vibes as I sat in the waiting room. And they did seem understanding of my needs so I think I’ll be sticking with them! (They’re also the only dental practice that has ever offered GA to me, and I’m grateful for that option.) I could request a different dentist at the same practice to look at my teeth, but I think I (and my family) have come to accept what they’ve told me I need done. At first, it seemed unlikely to me, how could my teeth be that bad? But now that I’ve become more aware of them and started to really pay attention, I understand it. I also think when the dentist got a slightly better look at my teeth and changed her estimate of six extractions down to four, it showed me that she was willing to try to save some of my teeth if she believed it could be done. That went pretty far in my trust department of not just thinking she was going to pull teeth she couldn’t be bothered to try to save.

Thank you! Can’t wait till I come out the other side of this with a brand new smile! :)
 
A

APhobicQueen

Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2022
Messages
57
Location
Canada
Well. It’s Day Eight since I emailed and I still haven’t heard back from Carrie. I should call, but I’m a little tuckered out after today (first time I’ve really left the house since I got the ”diagnosis” and I was so worried something would happen. It didn’t, but the anxiety was a lot and I need to rest now.) And honestly, I’d rather try phoning first thing in the morning. I’m also annoyed that I haven’t gotten anything back. I mean, if there was a holdup of some kind, the polite thing would be to tell me so at the very least? I dunno. Emails are always a risk, I know that, but I felt so much more confident in sending the email than calling. But I guess we’ll see?

But yeah, I can definitely tell that stress is making my teeth feel worse. I got a random shooting pain in my cracked tooth, that only happened when I started thinking about it and got stressed. My brain is too smart for its own good, I swear! I have to travel even further in a few days than I did today and I really hope I don’t get that while out and about. That’d suck. Maybe it’ll be better now that I’ve done it once and had nothing bad or catastrophic happen.

Anyway, onto better things! Yesterday, I finally got the chance to open up to my counsellor about my dental phobia and everything that happened. The hour’s session flew by! I also mentioned this forum and she told me how great it was that I’d found a supportive community like this. She told me that instead of living in fear of the worst case scenario, I need to think about it and how I’d handle it. Not that it will happen, but if it did, what are some techniques I could do to get through it?

There’s a lot of mess with this trauma of mine. I’m sure a lot of others here can agree that our dental phobias and/or trauma is often tied to other things, and I’ve had a lot of realizations about some people in my life thanks to it. It’s a hard journey but I do think I’ll emerge from the other side a lot better for it.

Now, I did get my tongue scraper and my manual toothbrush! Lemme tell you, holding a manual toothbrush after so long was a weird experience. I’m so used to an electric, it was like a baby learning to brush again. According to my family, my teeth don’t look as good as they do when I use an electric, though I suppose that’s to be expected as I get the hang of doing it again. I’m having to remind myself too not to scrub the teeth but to be gentle. Also my mouth gets so much foam from the toothpaste with a manual, I look like a rapid dog, I swear! It’s kind of hilarious. I have yet to really feel a difference on my teeth between the electric and manual which I think is a good thing? I hope that means I’m getting at least most of the plaque off.

The tongue scraper though? Oh man, what a game changer! I’ve been working it back on my tongue and I actually haven’t gagged yet! I get the feeling of wanting to and then I just stop, close my mouth and breathe and continue. Which is great. And the amount of stuff coming off my tongue, like wow. Who knew there could be so much buildup on a tongue? I really like doing it now and I’m establishing a routine of doing my skincare and then my teeth. Like before I’d try to do it as quickly as possible and now it’s taking my time and all that. Making it a part of the pampering routine you know?

(I’m also using a stop watch on my phone to make sure I get the full two minutes in with brushing and 30 seconds at least per quadrant. Honestly you don’t realize how fast 30 seconds is until you’re manually brushing your teeth.)

Anyway, I’m really tired so I’m probably going to go have a nice cup of tea and then take a nap for the rest of the day. Until next time (keep fit and have fun! If you get that reference, you’re my hero)
 
A

APhobicQueen

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Joined
Mar 2, 2022
Messages
57
Location
Canada
It’s booked.

I just got off the phone with Carrie, turns out my email was lost in the sea of messages. At first she was a little curt when I said I had definitely sent it, but then she apologized when she found it and read it over.

So, here are the details: my maximum budget right now is 5000 dollars. We can’t go over that, that’s like...everything. Carrie made sure to restate to me that the estimate she gave me was a rough one, as they haven’t done a full diagnosis yet. Which scares me. I, of course, have visions of periodontal disease and more extractions and root canals and god knows what else happening in my head. But anyway.

Right now I’m being booked in for the four extractions, the x-rays and full exam, and the two restorations (fillings, she called them.) Afterwards, once we have the full x-rays and they can see each of my teeth, they’ll be able to go from there and say more specifically what I need done. Then while the healing process is going on (I will not be getting immediates) that’s probably when I’d pay for the partial and all that entails. Wisdom teeth will only happen after everything else is done. Then I can get them out. Not sure when cleanings would happen (as I do need deep cleanings) but I’m sure we’ll work that out at some point. So the total price right now for what I’ll have done is 3500. That gives us about 1500 dollars of wiggle room that will hopefully be enough.

So the date: September is unfortunately all booked up, but I’m on the short call list if it becomes available. I’m booked in now for November 18th at 11 am. And I’m feel embarassed because according to Carrie, they normally do kids in the mornings and that means I will be an adult surrounded by children and I will feel so ashamed because I just know, I’m going to get looks. I mean I can’t think about that right now, though I’m sure it will weigh in my mind.

The other thing is that they need a deposit of 500 dollars within the week to save my stop. Basically ensure I actually show up and don’t pull a runner. Which I get, but it seems so final, it’s quite scary. Anyway, from there, I’ll also be getting my medical history forms to fill out, as well as my pre-op forms. That’s fine. I had a major operation before, so if I can look at this as being the same, I’ll be okay. This is a procedure, a surgery, and it’s meant to give me my life back and make me healthy. It’ll take me a while I’m sure to get to the point where I can really believe it, but I believe in myself.

(Also Merry Christmas to me. I’ll be spending it a month out from dental surgery LOL)

I’m kind of in shock right now, but I suppose I should be proud of myself. I called, I did it! I booked the appointment! Full steam ahead!
 
A

APhobicQueen

Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2022
Messages
57
Location
Canada
Short update again today because I need to rest. So, I have some good news! Deposit is paid, and my appointment is now confirmed to be November 18th at 11 am.

EEP. It’s go time everyone!

Unfortunately, I didn’t get the paperwork for medical history and pre-op care, but that’s probably because I wasn’t actually in the office. My mom went in (bless my parents for helping to pay) and paid the money, but I couldn’t go in. Not because I didn’t want to! But because earlier I’d had an unrelated panic attack (it was truly unrelated) and after that, I thought going into the dentist’s office would set me back. I waited in the parking lot instead. And guess what? No anxiety! It actually eased. That means step one of what would be a normal fear ladder is complete. Step two would be going inside and waiting in the waiting room (while someone else has an appointment.) I’m sort of trying to do as much by the work of good exposure therapy as I can before my date but we’ll see how that goes.

It was a bit hard though, because I didn’t exactly feel anything but ashamed when I didn’t go in. Without going into details, my mom wasn’t happy, which I get, I mean I’m thirty years old and I can’t even go into a dentist’s office? Like, not easy to deal with as a support person. That being said, I do wish she’d thought a little more in the moment perhaps and shown me a bit more support than she did. But people make mistakes. All I can do is teach her how to show me what I need in those moments.

Also asked my brother about my theory that he was upset after his incident and witnessing that helped lead to my PTSD and severe trauma/phobia. He confirmed he was indeed upset and I feel like I’m playing detective! This is the first time, I’ve ever tried to solidly construct a memory of what happened That Day and now I feel like I’m getting some answers, I didn’t have before. For example, I know my mom was there at the appointment but I don’t remember her being there at all. I only remember my dad and brother. Interesting when I consider that as a child, when dealing with anxiety, my mom was go to reassurance person. And yet I don’t remember her being there in that horrid time in my life. Definitely, I think, says something about what might have been going on in my little brain.

Anyway, that’s enough about that. I’m off to go rest now (and do more work, ugh), but we’re all green lit and ready to go! (with only the mild sense of wanting to scream as though I’m jumping from an airplane and I don’t know that my parachute will work)
 
A

APhobicQueen

Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2022
Messages
57
Location
Canada
No major updates to report but I do want to say I’m feeling a little downtrodden because all I’ve been seeing lately are more and more people getting implants, talking about implants and even saying that removable dentures are a “temporary solution.” They aren’t, of course, and I find myself angry at the implication.

A woman I follow on Youtube who said she wasn’t getting implants is now getting them. And it makes sense! She had all her teeth removed and her dentist was concerned about bone loss happening in her upper jaw. She said it was the best decision for her, and she’ll always advocate for dentures. I was happy to hear that, because I feel like way too many people get implants and then act like that’s all there is.

The truth is, I’ll never be able to afford implants. Not unless I win the lottery. But even if I did, I wouldn’t want them I don’t think. The thought of having rods in my jaw is…really freaky to me. It wouldn’t be something I could just sign up to do, that’s for sure. Not to mention how invasive and intense the procedures are to get one to that point. For some people (a lot of celebrities LOL) it works best for them. They’re fine with it, they enjoy it, and it was the best decision. I feel a bit like the odd one out, sitting here and saying that partials are the best option for me (I mean right now it’s all I can afford anyway.) And that I prefer having something removable.

I know bone loss could be a concern, but as of right now I’m really hopeful. My uncle has full dentures and you cannot tell, his bone loss clearly isn’t too bad since his dentures continue to do the job of lifting his tissue/facial skin the way they should. I hope I’m the same (especially since I’m only getting four upper fronts extracted. Hoping that keeping as many of my natural teeth as possible really will help prevent a lot of those issues people are so worried about.)

I just wish I guess that more people didn’t act like removable dentures were a temporary solution and were awful and terrible. It’s discouraging and I’d rather have all the positivity I could right now.
 
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