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No Turning Back: My Journey to a Radiant Smile

Thank you @mariyam!

Ah yes, the anxiety for one thing will go away, and a handful of others will fill its place. Such is the life of us with anxiety and trauma.

It appears, to me at least, that what’s happened is one of my chronic illnesses has been triggered into a flare by Covid, and one of the symptoms I get when I have a flare is inflammation. This includes (and has included in the past, my gums.) Naturally having just been through a major trauma, the inflammation was probably able to go for a weak spot and it’s sort of an on/off game now. It’s maintaining a certain redness, but I think it’ll be fine. The extraction site that gets red, it’s one where the tooth used to be a big problem in terms of inflammation so I guess the gum is taking up the role now LOL

But I’ll know more next week. I’m just going to assume it’ll be good news. I refuse to believe otherwise.
Oh, I just realized I crossed over 100 posts in my journal! And 4k views. Wow. I didn’t think I’d make it that far to be honest. I really thought I’d just…stop. But here we are! Still going. I want to thank everyone who has followed me along so far. All of you anonymously or not. It means a lot to think of my journey helping someone else, inspiring, making anyone feel less alone.

My mouth is doing more mouth things now. And by that I mean, when you get teeth taken out in the front, on the uppers anyway, your upper lip has to adjust. I’m still having a hard time smacking/rubbing my lips together (the way you do if you wear lip balm or lipstick) because my brain gets a bet confused. Since I’m missing a front tooth, my lip can just curl with no resistance. But then I have my remaining tooth! And it’s a solid thing. So when I curl my upper lip, my brain tries to make sense of the difference and comes up with the idea that my remaining front tooth is going to just pop right out of my mouth. This is the same for the left side as well where my canine is located. The canine on the right side is fine though (small mercies!)

Still. It’s progress because my mouth is moving more like a mouth again. I can make shapes with it more like I used to without it feeling completely off or weird. This is really good! I’m hoping when I go back to the dentist, she’ll be able to put any remaining fear at ease.

Also as an aside: I accidentally hit my front tooth with a tea cup this morning because I wasn’t paying attention. I braced myself for the worst. I dunno, a chip? It just hanging there? Pain? And…yeah there was a flash of an ache (because I mean it was a tea cup) but other than that nothing? The tooth was absolutely fine and perfect.

I’ve hit cups against my front tooth before accidentally (I can be clumsy sometimes LOL) and you know I never thought it ever hurt, but now I’m realizing maybe it actually did but I just got used to it. Because there was such a lack of anything when this happened. Did I feel it? Hell yeah. Did I immediately have to brace to wait for the ache to go away? No.

And now I’m wondering. All these years with me thinking I had no pain…was that just mind over matter? Did I just refuse to see it? Maybe. It’s possible. The brain is a powerful thing as we know.

Anyway. I think I’m ready to try out some more food soon! Like my vegetarian lasagna. My extraction sites have really healed up nicely! So I’m not worried about anything with that.

And I am brushing my teeth of course. I’m still turning the electric toothbrush off on the teeth that are by the extraction sites, but I’m having it on for all the others. It’s great.
I did floss once, but I got quite a bit of blood in one area, so I decided to let my gums heal up a little more first. Hopefully that will be okay. When I go back to Dr.G I’ll ask about it I think. If I remember to.

I’m not sure how this visit will go honestly. My first one since the oral surgery! Woohoo! But also an interesting occasion. I’ve never gone to a dentist after a procedure before. I’ve never had procedures done before. So in a way, this is uncharted territory.

Oh! As for that bleeding gum: yes it’s still red, but sometimes it’s not as red. And I held my toothbrush in a different way and it doesn’t bleed now when I brush it. So it might just be that my brushing or toothbrush was harsh. The gum does not appear swollen in any sense, and it’s really just this little area that’s red. So I’m not sure?

My other canine also has the red ring around it still, but I’m eating with it fine and it doesn’t hurt at all. There’s also no blood when I brush. So we’ll see how it goes, but I’m feeling positive about it. Actually as of right now, I’m not even that anxious about the appointment! Isn’t that something?

Considering how close it is, normally I would be thinking about it already and thinking about how everything is going wrong. But no! Not today!

(Fun ending to this post: as I was writing this, a denture commercial came on the radio. Isn’t that hilarious! I’m already getting my smile back thanks denture ad!)

(Also another fun ending: even with missing some teeth, I’ve been told by family that my smile is radiant. That’s quite fun! There is a bit of a different in the slope of my upper lip on one side now but you can only notice if you look very closely. It appears to be in the area where I no longer have a pre-molar which makes a lot of sense actually. But isn’t that wonderful? I don’t have my partials yet, but my smile is already more radiant, just like I said it would be in the title to my journal!)
I'm so glad you're healing is going well! You're right, considering how much people put their teeth and mouth through (and how much we've put them through) the mouth is pretty tough.

I'm so glad and proud of you for not being anxious about the appointment! I can't wait to get to that point.

Commercials are funny aren't they?
Mm, so today is my appointment with Dr.G. The one to check that everything is healing up okay, and to see what’s up with that one area of my gum. And for me to just ask any questions I have about various things (i.e. my gums bleeding between my teeth on the bottom, if I can really use my front tooth to eat anything and it won’t, I dunno, shatter LOL, etc, etc.)

I woke up this morning to a pit in my stomach. Which wasn’t great, lemme tell you. I was kind of hoping I wouldn’t have any anxiety…but I know, I know, it’s going to take more than a few appointments (including one that I was only able to get through because I was completely unconscious. When I woke up, I was anxious) to get me to a place where my anxiety is low.

I’m just thinking about last time I went in for an appointment and the dentist checked my mouth. The week before E-Day. I was so scared (as documented here) and yet, I was absolutely fine. It went better than expected. I was over the moon with how well I had done.

I think that will happen today too.

I just have to remember what helped last time. My coat as a blanket, the glasses (which I imagine I’ll be giving again), and my stress noodle to tug and grip and play with.

It’s funny though, because while I’m afraid, it feels as though my fears have changed. Sort of anyway. It’s not so much the chair that makes me afraid or even her looking. It’s specific to being prodded and the fear that something else is terribly wrong. I’ll need more extractions. Maybe I need root canals. Maybe I have an infection, etc, etc.

It’s silly. It is. It’s not like she just extracted my teeth three weeks ago and went on her merry way. I am sure she throughly checked out my mouth. And yet the fear, it pervades, oozing into every part of my brain and thoughts that it can.

My only weapon is logic, and truth. Affirmations to remind myself that I’m fine, I’m okay, and my mouth is too. To stay as calm as I can, to lead myself with hope, not with fear. The only way to heal is to continue on the path. Not fire now, not burning coals, but still a smoulder, still something that can hurt if I’m not careful.

I was planning on just making one post today, after the appointment, but I think it‘s become tradition for me to post before hand. So everyone (including myself) can see how unfounded my fears have are. How everything works out in the end and is okay. It’s a reinforcement that I think is important to have. Proof if you will, and not just something my brain can say I made up for comfort.

And off I go.
And I’m back!

All right, buckle up folks because here’s the ”bad news”: turns out, I still need cavities filled. Turns out because of budget they didn’t fill them. Turns out I’ll have to go through that.

I’m a little confused to be honest. Dr. G said it was just a “couple” which to me should have meant they could have done them since we came in under budget in the end? I had over 1000 dollars to work with still. But I guess maybe they didn’t want to risk that I needed like all surfaces filled on some of them, because that would actually take up that amount of money wouldn’t it? Damn, cavities are expensive and yet so many of us have them LOL

Anyway. The good news is they didn’t seem bothered by the fact I hadn’t booked myself in to have them done and seemed okay with me waiting (because finances and also you know, just getting myself together enough to go through with it.) So they must not be too severe if they’re okay with waiting.

Now for the red spot. Apparently it’s fine, it’s just still healing and there is some plaque around the teeth, etc, and since I haven’t had my cleanings yet, that’s also why my gums are bleeding when I floss. Dr. G reminded me that my gums aren’t 100% yet, because they’ve only done a portion of the work. She told me to keep doing a saltwater rinse and I should be fine to brush and everything was healing fine.

Also my front tooth is a-okay. She asked how I liked it and I said I had to get used to it but I didn’t mind it! I really am getting used to it. I mentioned I hadn’t “used” it to eat yet because I was nervous but based on how much she was scraping the thing and how nothing happened, I’d say it’s sturdy and fine LOL

The dental assistant was so lovely. I honestly love her to bits. We chatted for a bit and she said to me “I just have to tell you, truly, you look so much more comfortable in the chair than you did before. Really.” And it made me smile. I said “I think I’m slowly getting there!” And I was. I didn’t have to be asked to lean back, I did that on my own, got out my stress noodle and leaned back (maybe not as far as I could have but progress! They didn’t ask me to do any more.) The chair is actually really comfortable once you get used to it LOL

I did forget my coat in the waiting room when I went in though, oops. I think that would have helped I was cold.

I did feel my stomach drop out under me when they brought a tray in before I saw the dentist though. I was so confused. I was only here for a checkup, what the heck are those trays? And then I reminded myself they can’t do anything I don’t want them to do and then it turned out it was just what they housed an unused scraper tool in LOL So I panicked for nothing.

It really wasn’t too bad, and I’m definitely improving.

Also, I booked my denture appointment for later. Next year, January 12th. Financially, it’d just be way too difficult to make it work for November/Christmas. The only people I’d see are family anyway, and if they judge me for not having some teeth, that’s on them. I’m doing what I have to do you know?
I’m really tired so I’m going to take a nap now. I feel like there’s more detail I could have given, but I need some time to rest and some time to come to terms with the fact I still have cavities that need filling.

It should be noted though, that I kinda knew that already. When I first woke up and was able to look at my teeth, I saw the same spot on my bottom one and I was sure that was a cavity. So I know that’s gotta be one of the ones that needs filling.

I wonder if it’s just ones on the bottom? I’m thinking they stayed focused on my uppers for the most part but maybe there’s some molars up there that need some fillings too? Hard to say.

I’ll get through it. Like I’ve gone through everything so far. Like I say to others: I got this!
I am so happy for you. You sound like you're at that next level of calm. I hope I can get there. And totally agree with the no judgement and if they judge that's on them. As adults we should be able to understanding someone else's circumstances and realize they are at where they need to be and can be at that time and time is constantly moving.
So, we are a bit back in the waiting game. Which means updates might be a little more sparse. Which is fine! This is the good kind of waiting.

I am making progress that’s for sure @mariyam! I’m no longer afraid of the chair and I can open my mouth pretty well. Not wide necessarily but I’ve had no complaints from the dentist! Which is honestly one of my favourite things. She’s clearly accepting that I’m anxious and also that I just have a naturally small mouth. Sometimes it’s hard for me to still feel the panic/anxiety, because I’m just ready to not feel that, but then I remember healing takes a lot of time, and that I’ve actually only been to the dentist a handful of times so far, despite the work I’ve had done.

Today’s post is a simple one: baby’s first bone spur! I actually call it a bone shard because a) it sounds cooler, come on and b) it looks more like a shard.

Yep! So far it’s only one. And it’s where my premolar used to be, right next to my canine that’s still there. You can barely see it. It’s just this tiny white thing poking down. It only hurts when you touch it. Which I tried to do and right now, oh yeah, it’s not budging at all. I had a moment where my stomach fell out from under me and I started worrying (I don’t think that will ever not happen) but I remembered what I read on the denture reddit! Which was that bone shards are very common, and no, most dentists don’t have to take them out, they come out on their own. Sometimes it just takes a little time.

It reminds me actually of when I would lose baby teeth and I had leftovers in my mouth for a while that took forever to come out (because I, of course, never went to a dentist to get them taken out, oops.)

Also, my poor right side of my mouth LOL I’ve been eating exclusively on that side, and my poor jaw has started to ache with it. So, I’ve made progress! I am eating on the left side of my mouth now! It’s not easy, because my brain seems afraid of something happening (my restored teeth shattering, pain, blood, I dunno, the usual weird stuff) but I’m finally doing it. The weirdest part is definitely that while I have my premolar on the right side, I don’t on the left, so my food will just hit my gum. And my brain will go “wait a second…where’s the tooth?” And it takes a second LOL It feels weird, but we’re working on it.

Oh, and by the way, for anyone getting extractions: phantom tooth syndrome? Yeah that’s real. Not necessarily pain, because I haven’t had that, but I’ve had occasions so far where I’ve sworn I’ve had a tooth in my mouth (almost exclusively my front tooth) that isn’t there anymore. Where I could’ve sworn I felt it. Since it doesn’t involve pain, I mostly just laugh when I take my tongue to the area expecting to feel a tooth and feel nothing.

Here’s my last note: brushing. I’m sort of…relearning how to brush. Not that I was bad at it before, but I was harsh. Because my teeth were so horrid, I felt like brushing harder was the only way to get them even remotely clean. Which is untrue of course. And especially now, is just not a good idea. It mostly happens at night, when I’m distracted or super tired and not paying attention. Yesterday I made my poor gum bleed because I was too harsh on it (funnily enough right where the bone shard was, poor gum!) and it hit me that I don’t have to be harsh on my teeth or gums anymore. It’s okay, they’re okay, they’ll be fine! There’s no reason to worry, the dentist was pleased with my progress, and no one told me I needed to have my cleanings and cavities fixed like right then. Obviously, the sooner, the better, but it’s not harsh enough to warrant immediate treatment. Part of what I can do is be gentle on my mouth and caring. Learn to love my mouth again, and not treat it harshly. It’s doing so much for me still, and is doing so well! I should be kinder to it.

Well that’s it for now!

I do want to make a post in future, hopefully I will, but it’s a bit more detailed about the fact I might be seeing family this Christmas missing four of my front uppers and what that means to me and at large. I know a lot of people on here don’t want to tell anyone about their teeth issues and gum issues because they’re ashamed, and I’d really like to talk more about it. So this is my note to self to do so LOL

I have the urge to sign off with ”ta ta for now!” and I don’t know why ;D
Why hello there! Happy 2023 my fellow phobics! I hope the new year finds all of you well wherever you are in your dental journey.

To be honest, I thought I’d be making my first post in a few months tomorrow, after my latest appointment, but ah, no. It appears I need to journal now, the day before. Tomorrow I have an appointment to get my dental impressions done and—

I don’t think I’m going to be able to do it.

I mean go in? Meet the denturist? Yeah, sure, I can do that.

But get the impressions done?

I really don’t think so. And that’s not even just the fear talking, that’s just a logical basis I have after watching various videos of impressions being done. And I mean the traditional ones, not the newer ones with the wand because those, I think I’d be fine with those ;D Someone make that the standard please.

Even without anxiety and trauma, my gag reflex is high. No exaggeration. And it gets astronomically worse when I’m anxious. I basically can’t have anything that I’m not controlling anywhere near my mouth (the trauma if you read my first post, informs of that.) So I dunno how I’m going to get that tray in my mouth. I was looking into it, and I noticed there are some impression trays that don’t have a palette included, and I wonder if they have those and if those are an option for me since I’m just getting upper partials? Or will I have to have the whole shebang, in which case, good luck to them because yeah—I mean watching the video made me start shaking profusely with my muscles tensing up and wanting to cry. Actual tears have been forming in my eyes.

I keep reminding myself, that I have the power. I can say no. Even it makes me a difficult patient. When I was 15 and went to that god awful dentist, I flat out refused to put the bite wing in my mouth for x-rays knowing it was too big and I would gag. It wouldn’t work. They were angry, called me a baby and said terrible things to me, but I held my ground. If I could do that then, at 15, I sure as hell can do that now as a full grown adult. And this dental place has been so kind to me so far. I can only hope, they’ll understand if I tell them no. At least this time. I only have so long before my teeth start shifting you know. And I got mine out in October.

Speaking of which, everything is going pretty great with my teeth! I haven’t done anything else yet, no cavities filled or cleanings done, but that is going to be a thing that happens this year, I’m sure.

Eating is fine. I do have to eat in smaller bites, but it’s really nothing. I can eat salad again! (Something I actually keep forgetting LOL)

The biggest thing is really that I’m not using my remaining front tooth like, at all. It’s been restored and it’s fine, but I keep worrying about biting down with it because I fear it will just shatter or crack. The paranoia is real.

I still get the phantom tooth feeling with my other no longer there front tooth area. It’s such a funky feeling. Mostly it seems to happen with air, the gum gets a bit sensitive and it feels like my tooth is right there, even when it isn’t.

Overall, my quality of life has improved so much, and that’s before the partial restoring my smile. Like I’m shocked at how much better it’s been.

It’s amazing how I can eat food now and not worry it’s going to give me bad breath by getting stuck in rotting teeth or holes that can’t be prepared. I mean sure, garlic and onion still provide a taste LOL but nothing a breath mint doesn’t fix! Isn’t that amazing? When I wake up in the morning my breath isn’t so bad.

And I haven’t missed a day brushing my teeth since I’ve gotten my teeth out and been able to brush them again! There are occasions where I’ve missed the morning, but never the evening. So at least once a day, though I’m trying to be consistent with twice a day (the big problem is waking up late and being hungry and knowing if I brush my teeth, I have to wait 30 minutes until I can eat LOL) work in progress, but definitely progress.

Honestly I don’t even really notice a difference in not having those four teeth. Maybe with the premolar missing (because it is there on the other side) but with everything else, it’s pretty much like business as usual. One side of my lip (with premolar and front tooth) is a bit higher than the other but nothing noticeable. It’s really something. And I’m so proud of myself for doing this.
I just wish I wasn’t so terrified about tomorrow and wondering how it was going to go. Like I don’t know how it’s going to happen. I don’t foresee it being a thing I can realistically do if they’re using a full tray of that size, full goop, and leaving it there for a few minutes. But I guess we’ll see. No point looking at videos on the Internet and making anything about that as a reality to what will happen to me.

I’m reminded in my first appointment (way back in March of last year when the dentist said I needed extractions) that she went to talk to the denturist, to ask what might happen with my gag reflex. She never told me what happened with that (perhaps she didn‘t get a chance to meet with him or some such, it was a bit of a mess at the end of the appointment), but that gives me some hope. Like clearly my gag reflex was registering as an issue and they wanted to do everything they could to make me comfortable or find ways around it. I have to trust they’ll do that here. And if they don’t? I say “thank you but I will not be continuing with the appointment today.” It’s as simple as that. Power, power, power. I have it.

I really wish this post as a comeback were a bit more positive, but to the community: hi, I’m back and I really hope you’ve been taking care of yourself!

I’m off to take some painkillers (stress headache damn it), and to have a little positive vibe circle for tomorrow. Wish me luck everyone! (And if anyone has reassurance, yes, please, I’ll take that too.)

P.S. I know breathing through the nose works wonders, but I couldn’t stand all these videos acting like that would “fix” a high gag reflex on its own. Sorry to say, if you’re like me? It really doesn’t LOL
Ask to be seated upright while having the impressions it will help . When is the appointment ?
@Jackieallen Mm, I read about that tip online and plan to do that!

And it’s in three hours ;D
Ah, here we are, the post appointment write up. Let’s get the big thing out of the way: I did not get my impressions done today. They’re rescheduled for the afternoon on the 26th.

The denturist, Albert, was the sweetest man. Truly, and really. And I’m so proud of myself for how I handled the appointment that ended up being a consultation. Part of me wants to take this as a “failure” because I didn’t get the impressions done, but the other part of me, the bigger part of me knows this is a win. And that the consultation needed to happen before anything else. So let’s discuss.

I was so anxious in the waiting room. This time I didn’t feel the anxiety leaving me. Pretty standard I thought, I’d never met Albert before and doing impressions invokes pretty much all of my dental trauma from when I was eight. And this was important: I needed to meet him, see the room I’d be in, and get comfortable. I needed to get that impression. And like I said, he was so sweet. I told him I was anxious and he asked “oh no, why?” And I just flat out went “extremely bad dental phobia” and he was like “ohhhhh.”

So his office is further into the maze that is this place. It really is a maze? Like a labyrinth. I’m glad he walked me out or I would’ve maybe gotten lost LOL Anyway. I sat down on the edge of the chair, and he told me I could hang up my coat and purse. I took my coat off but held it in my lap and later used it as a blanket (which he totally understood) and I put my purse on the floor for some reason rather than hanging it up. I‘ve learned that sitting on the edge of the dental chair when I’m in a new room with a new person is apparently a thing I do. Makes sense. Easier to escape. I’m in control then.

And I said hesitantly: “can this be a consult?” And Albert immediately went “yes of course. It can be whatever you want it to be for now.” So he instantly picked up on what I was saying.

I ended up explaining to him the incident when I was eight, the hygienist and even the “I threw up in a store later” part. He was so horrified and could not believe that someone would do that. It was so validating. He also understood that the humiliation of getting sick in public contributed to my gag reflex, etc, etc. So instead, what we did is he went through the process with me.

Yes it is a full palette they put in, and yes, they have to do top and bottom. But he said that he makes the paste differently to how most do it. He uses a different temperature with the water, and makes the paste thicker. 1 minute, tops. That’s all it takes to set on each. It’ll set faster so I’m not as uncomfortable. And he said “if you feel like you’re going to gag, and you feel really anxious, you’re going to raise your hand and I’m going to talk you through it and you’re going to be fine.” He assured me as well that he was in control of the situation and anything that came up, we could handle it.

We had a lovely chat too, and he looked in my mouth and oh lone and behold, my natural bite is a bit off LOL No surprise there. He asked if when I was biting down, if that was where my teeth naturally fell and I said “I think?” But it was a bit hard to know because I was so anxious and I never really think about where my teeth go ;D but he said he could work with it and didn’t need anything extra except maybe notches done by the dentist on the teeth that will have the hooks on them to hold them there and provide an anchor. He said he’d make sure I saw Dr.G for that and not someone else (they just hired a new dentist, a young man, very sweet apparently.)

But he assured me that a lot of people come in and swear they’ll gag, and they don’t. He reassured me again, just how quick it is. And said he’d do the bottom first so I know what’s happening and there’s less chance of gagging on the bottom. I also told him of the last time I had taken x-rays when I was 12 and he said “Oh the technology has come so far! They aren’t those huge things anymore, I promise.”

And he said “if you can put a spoon on your tongue with ice cream and not gag? You’ll be fine.” He explained that in a lot of cases, it’s not so much that anything is hitting the back of the throat at all, but that it hits the tongue, and then it causes the tongue to send a signal to the brain like “oh no. This is bad. Nuh uh.” Which causes the gag reflex to kick in. It was nice to understand it. And understand how long it would take to for everything. Now I have an idea what I’m working with which is really helpful.

When he took a look in my mouth, which I was fine with by the way, though I didn’t open my mouth wide but that was fine, he didn’t need that, he said after the big thing is maintaining brushing.

Also interesting, he said he thought all the fillings on top were done. I thought I still had some, but it looks like it just might the bottoms that need fillings? If that’s the case, that’s great! Less fillings than I thought then.

But anyway, we had a lovely discussion, and he was so nice, and he said “it’s not just my time that’s valuable, but yours too.” And I really appreciated that.

So January 26th, in the afternoon, I’ll be getting my impressions done! But today was a good day and definitely progress in my journey.
Bravo! Bravo!

This is all great, and I’m super stoked to hear about your experience on the 26th.
Hello, hello! Just a quick post today to report that anyone who was eagerly awaiting my post dental impressions breakdown is going to have to wait a bit longer!

Mother Nature decided I needed some more time and has snowed me in today, the day of my appointment. I’m hoping there won’t be a charge despite it being less than 24 hours notice but if it is…well I suppose that’s just how it is. Can’t really control the weather can we?

I actually wanted to phone yesterday to reschedule as we were being hit by a massive storm, but my family told me they thought it’d be fine. Well lone and behold, it was not fine LOL so it is what it is.

I haven’t phoned yet, as the practice doesn’t open for another half an hour, but I might make a quick post for my new appointment day when it happens. But, in any case, onwards, and upwards my fellow phobics.

P.S. My entire journey has been a series of having to wait and rebook appointments so I shouldn’t be surprised really.

@Dg6300 Thank you! I’ll be sure to break down my experience (when it eventually comes around) in as much detail as I can…I feel like I haven’t seen a lot of people talking details on the impression experience and I want others to be able to look at my post and get a real idea for what it’s like.
First HAPPY NEW YEAR (a bit late sorry) you've made so much progress. You've got this! The impressions are super gross tasting they really need to make a non gross flavor because then maybe we wouldn't want to hurl the thing away as soon as we see it. Hope things go well!
@mariyam Thank you!

Mm, I actually saw a video from a practice where they do put flavouring into the paste! I’m wondering why that’s not commonplace ;D

My new appointment is Tuesday at 12:30 so fingers crossed that it all goes well and I’ll be here to tell everyone all about it.
Have you ever watched a sports event on TV like track or speed skating? Have you ever watched it and thought after one false start, surely there couldn’t be another, only to be surprised when there is?


Guess what? A false start again! Turns out my appointment is being moved because, lone and behold, my only way of getting to the dentist decided to go out of commission with an issue ;D

To be honest, I’m truly worried the dental practice is going to think I’m just making up excuses, or that I’m trying to put off my appointment. I’m really not! I mean don’t get me wrong, part of me, the anxious, traumatized part is jumping for joy, but the other part of me is like “I really do need this done and over with.” Whoops.

In any case, looks like it’ll be a while longer yet. I’m starting to think perhaps it’s destined for me to have my impressions appointment exactly a year after this whole journey began. Sort of full circle (full circle would be getting the partials themselves but you know.)
@APhobicQueen the waiting is the worst especially if it's not actually your choice to prolong it. Hope things transportation wise are sorted out now
Hi, hello, I promise I didn’t forget about this journal! It’s just that things are less frequent now, as the major dental work starts to wind down.

It’s just going to be a quick update today because I did go back to the dentist! For what I thought were dental impressions, but were not.

So here’s the rundown: essentially, my dental team has done things “out of order” so to speak (or, they didn’t say that to me, but it seems as such); because they did my extractions first, and then they were going to do the impressions but realized I hadn’t had any cleanings yet, which oh no! Can’t do that.

As was explained to me by Albert, who is still as lovely as ever. They don’t have a way of really knowing just how much plaque I might have built up in there. It might not be that much or it could be a lot, it’s hard to say (considering it’s been 10 years since my last cleaning, I’m going to go ahead and just assume it’s probably a wee bit you know? ;D) Anyway, because of this fact, if they were to do impressions, make my partials and then do my cleanings after, my partials wouldn’t fit and then that’d be a waste of money.

I also asked if they wanted the teeth to be stronger for supporting the partial and he said “yes, exactly!” He then explained to me how they’re going to put “rests” on my teeth, which are completely superficial, don’t hurt, and take about five to seven minutes to do…pre-dental impression. it’s just like a little shelf so that I can use my partial as I would use my normal teeth, opening, closing, biting. And he assured me, it’d be sealed when I had my partial in and I’d only ever feel it with my tongue when the partial was out.

He also told me not to worry about the metal, because it’d be invisible which I was never worried about (since they seem like they do excellent work there) but was nice to hear all the same.

I then let him look in my mouth (with ease!) and I think I’m downplaying how huge that was.

No fear. No anxiety. Despite the fact he touched some of my teeth and had gloves on and felt around (he also had me bite down a bit and I was so anxious my jaw kept shaking LOL oops. Fun fact: when I’m anxious, I apparently have a hard time biting down or having a “natural” bite! Who knew) But I did it! And it was okay! Fine in fact. No issues there!

Anyway, he was very sweet, and the first thing he asked was “do you have any anxieties about hygienists?” And I, being me, told the truth that I’d gone to them before, but then I sort of forgot to mention that yes, I do.

Still. I’m mostly okay with hygienists and what they do as long as I can take breaks and they talk to me. And aren’t pure evil like the one who told me my jaw was going to rot and fall off.

So because their practice is so popular (rightfully so!) they’re booked up solid. And a lot of their usuals are also off so they’re looking to hire temp hygienists and that’s what they’d probably do for me. Which eh, not my favourite thing, with a temp who might be rude or some such, but I also don’t think they’d hire just anybody even as a temp considering their shining reputation. Plus I feel more confident in that place than I have in previous places. I will not allow anyone to ever talk to me like that one woman did again.

Now, we get to the part I think all of us hate, the “oh god they’re telling me of what I should be doing with cleaning, I am feeling judged.” I want to make it clear that Albert was not actually judging me, and it was only my perception that made me feel low about it. He said I could benefit from an electric toothbrush and I said “Oh I use one.” And then he asked me (a little sternly but not unkindly, just sort of firm) if I use it every day, and I said “yes” because I do! and then he said “okay so here’s how I think of brushing my teeth, and what’s really helped me.” And he said rather than scrubbing back and forth which I admitted to doing and he was very quick to tell me was totally fine! and not to worry; what he said was to think of each of my teeth as a pearl. Now if you’re cleaning and shining a pearl, you have to get the whole of it right? You’d move your brush around, cleaning it gently and making sure you got every angle wouldn’t you? And if I do that, I should get a better clean. And I felt a bit awful, just a bit, like even with brushing my teeth every day, they still don’t look great? Am I really doing a bad job? But then I remembered it’s been a decade since I have had a teeth cleaning so like, any brushing I do at this point isn’t going to be 100% because I need to get that plaque outta there with the help of a professional.

And also I felt bad because I knew I should be doing better considering the money that’s gone into my mouth and yet some days I’m so fatigued or low energy, I just don’t bother with a great brush, it’s more subpar. And that wasn’t a great feeling to think about either. But I refuse to ruminate in it. It is what it is. I can make a difference with my teeth and maybe it’s just starting small. Maybe it’s putting on a dance playlist while brushing my teeth so the time doesn’t seem like it’s dragging, maybe it’s just doing one quadrant at a time as a pearl to get used to it, but either way, I believe I’ll get there, because there’s no giving up in this household!

(There’s also the fact I still need to get a Water Pik LOL they’re not too expensive but I‘m sure as everyone knows, economic times aren’t the best right now.)

In any case, I’ll be getting a phone call at some point to arrange a date and time for my cleanings and then after those are done, that’s when I’ll be going forwards with the impressions and the like! Onwards my fellow phobics, onwards!
Does anyone remember the scene in Disney’s Mulan, where Mushu rises up and says “I live!” in that voice of his?

Well hello, I’m here! And I have an update!

After months of essentially waiting around, I have a deep cleaning appointment for next Friday! :grin: (That is a sarcastic smile because haha, I’m terrified.)

I’m not sure if I’ve had deep cleanings or not before, but I think I might have because last time I had a cleaning (*cough, cough* a decade ago), they used a scraping tool and didn’t do much else? Which sounds similar to a deep cleaning. My gums were also very sore afterwards but I didn’t need any numbing or anything. So who knows? Not me since that dental practice never explained a thing to me.

In any case, I’m pretty much avoiding thinking about it which isn’t recommended I’m pretty sure, but in this case, there’s not much else for me to do? I am thinking about how I have power in this situation. Which is a good thing. Something that my trauma never lets me believe.

I’m worried about the length of time in the chair mainly. The only time I’ve been in the chair for longer than maybe 10 minutes, I was unconscious. Also I’ve never met the hygienist who will be working with me. Which makes me think it might be more beneficial to ask for a shorter appointment, or to play it almost by ear. Like maybe we do one quadrant and if I’m feeling good, we can do another, but if not we save that for another day. Or maybe I don’t do anything, maybe it’s just a meeting and discussion and then I go back.

I’ve already been told by various others that it’s “just a cleaning” and to “not be a baby” which does wonders for validating the trauma I experienced when I was literally physically assaulted by a hygienist at eight years old, but I digress. People just don’t understand. And I hate that when I have painstakingly explained why it’s not “just” anything. Is it really that hard to have empathy these days? I suppose so.

I know that deep cleanings sound far worse than they are, and they’re really not that bad but still! It does sound scary. And I’m also worried about the things that will be said about the state of my teeth. What if the hygienist is rude? What if they say something awful?

Logic dictates that my power is to get up and leave and not be treated in such a manner, but doing so would be an entirely different matter.

In any case, this dental team so far has been so kind that I’m optimistic for the hygienist. I’m also hoping maybe my teeth aren’t as bad as I make them out to be in my head…considering I floss and brush twice a day! And I do try my hardest. Isn’t that all I can do?

Anyway, this was a bit all over the place, so you’ll have to forgive me for it. But wish me luck and I’ll be sure to update after my appointment (or maybe before, we’ll see how much venting I need with the anxiety ha!)

And with that…my first deep cleaning appointment is in the books!

What a whirlwind yesterday was!

I’m still feeling pretty wrung out and exhausted today, but I’m going to try to make this cohesive because I know how many people need to just know the details of things that go on in the dentist office to make themselves feel better for their own appointments (me included.)

Firstly, I don’t think I’ve ever been this anxious before an appointment! Not even with my extractions. I think it’s obvious that I haven’t spent a lot of time in the chair conscious, and it was really pulling me over on that one. Also my PTSD was related to a hygienist, so you know, recipe for disaster! I truly felt like I was going to faint. Just pass right out. My legs were lead, and barely moved, and I was so jumpy in the waiting room.

That being said, the staff were extremely friendly and I’m glad I made an appointment first thing in the morning. As I was waiting a few different staff came out, one of which I didn’t really like the look of (can’t explain why? I’m sure she’s lovely, but there was just something I didn’t like) and I was worried. What if she’s the one I’m supposed to go with? Luckily she was not.

My hygienist came out though after a few minutes. I wish I had a name I could use here, but I don’t think I got it actually? Oops. Next time. As per usual, she asked how I was and I replied anxious. When we got to her “office”, she asked me why that was and I sat on the edge of the chair and explained about my PTSD. She was, as everyone in this practice has been, absolutely horrified that anyone could do something like that, especially to a child. It’s funny because I tend to brush off these things, since at the time that’s what everyone around me did, and yet nowadays, it’s like…validating to see how many people in the dental profession are actually disgusted by what someone did to me.

Anyway, she said that we’d go slow, and reassured me that I was *always* in control. Anything I didn’t want? That was fine, just let her know! If I needed breaks, that was fine, if I needed to completely stop, all good. There were other things said, but I’m trying to keep it to the most important bits ha!

She looked at my x-ray (I’ve only had that one done, not the full lineup) and it was hilarious, because she immediately went “Oh you have such beautiful teeth! They’re gorgeous!” And I was like “Just from an x-ray?” And she said yes! When I took off my mask (I still wear one out and about), and showed her my teeth and explained why I had extractions, she was sad to hear about my poor ‘lil front tooth and how it had been too late to save, but she was so happy to hear that I was doing well with maintenance, and that I’d been using an electric toothbrush since the early 2000s.

Then she asked if I wanted to watch TV and I said yes, because it would help me measure time and I figured would be a pretty good distraction. She also said she loved my little stress noodle I have (it has the texture of a stress ball but is in the shape of a noodle, it’s very effective for anxiety LOL); and that made me grateful too that I wasn’t being made fun of for needing a stim item for my PTSD. At this point, I think I started to kind of disassociate because to me, I couldn’t believe it was happening? Like when I went into that office, I truly thought…well I thought I’d be there five minutes, say I had too bad PTSD and we had to do it another day.

But my hygienist? *Amazing.* She was so sweet! She gave me breaks, we laughed at Seinfeld together (I don’t particularly love the show or anything, but as a child when I couldn’t sleep, it was one of the only things that I could watch late at night on my rabbit ear TV in my room LOL) and these episodes were funny, and she kept asking if I was okay, and encouraging me. She said she was so proud of me, and that I had to be proud of me too! She said “don’t worry about not opening your mouth wide, I‘ll just tell you often to do so.” And that was so very nice because I’ve been yelled at at other practices for that reason.

And the cleaning. So I got my whole mouth done! Here I was fearing I had severe periodontal disease or whatnot, but nope! First she went in with the high pressure water and vacuum which was pretty hilarious because she told me “Oh don’t worry, you don’t have to swallow any of the water!” but then I ended up doing that anyway, rather than using the vacuum and sucking on it because my instinct was to just, you know, swallow. It was funny! The water flew up a bit, and I got uncomfortable with some of the heat from the spray/tool? That’s when I panicked a wee bit and took a break and that was fine. She actually went back to her computer and sort of turned around so I’d have some privacy, which I thought was really amazing. The physical act of putting distance there and trusting that I’d say “okay let’s go again” was really, just incredible.

So then we went in with the scraper and I won’t lie, ooh there were some sore spots! But it wasn’t too bad, about 90-95% of the time, I had absolutely nothing. And I only got some pinpricks of pain and some aches. No local or topical freezing required! Which was good, I was worried about that.

Then she went in with a polish, and then a fluoride treatment which she told me I absolutely did not have to do, but she said “this is painted on, so I’m definitely not shoving anything in your mouth” and I said “you know what? Yes, I’ll do it!” So I did that too.

And then we were done.

That was it.

My whole mouth, deep cleaned! There was some blood, but honestly, it was no worse than when my lip splits open if it’s dry and I taste a bit of blood on my tongue. My teeth were tender but mostly fine, my jaw ached a bit, but again it was all manageable.

And the best part was, one of the black spots on my teeth I had so was gone! It was just plaque buildup. And off it went!

My teeth look much healthier and whiter now! Not perfect by any means, and there’s still other fillings and more cleanings to do (my next cleaning will be in October, for six months.) But all in all, it was not at all bad!

If anyone is scared of a deep cleaning, don’t be. Just make sure, make doubly, triply, sure, you have a hygienist who understands your needs. Believe me when I say, you’ll know as soon as you meet them.

(Also found out at the end, this hygienist was a new hire. Clearly my dental place doesn’t mess around with who they hire. They want informed professionals who understand how to handle patients with anxiety, trauma, etc.)

In any case, they took the cost of the polish off for me too, just to help with the money, and it all ended up costing me less than 200 dollars. Amazing!

The next step is to now call Carrie, my treatment coordinator and see if I need more cleanings before I have impressions, or if we’re good to go now on that front.

Ah, I’m still so tired, but so elated. What a huge step this was! I’m so proud of myself. Another thing checked off my list!