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Not to be dramatic but honestly, I can't do this



Apr 30, 2024
United Kingdom
It's funny, I've been stoic throughout many things in my life, my mother passing suddenly at 57, for one, just as much as I was when I found out the news. I haven't really, if ever, cried in my adult life that I can ever remember. But for the first time in my adult life as a guy (and I'm 35), when it clicked progressively over the last couple days when I realized the likelihood of how bad things would have been had I carried on trying to fight, I just totally broke down today when checking my mouth thoroughly. As I sit here typing with a giant 4 day recent fallen out bottom 1st Molar filling, with the yellow pulp visible, seemingly the entire tongue side missing (I still have the old metal filling actually) and constantly being aware of it being there no matter what I do, with a 12 hour shift tomorrow in just a few hours. Not pain exactly yet, just...awareness.

What's confusing to me about all this is the rapidity of everything, which seems crazy considering the obviousness of the time it would have taken to reach to this point. I don't even know where to start, but once you hear the extent of my dental issues, it would be surprising actually to learn this is the most ''irritated'' I've been by a Tooth constantly. I assume that's because it's actually one of the only times I had something so alive before it died, maybe, with all of my other dental work being either as a kid or so long ago it's all out of memory, back when the dental phobia started and as teen and I still remember the guy saying vividly ''wow all this is just falling apart look at this on a 14 year old...".

In other words it doesn't mean I must have okay teeth, on the contrary, I've got a cracked bottom pre-molar on the other side and, outside of noticing when I lost it 4 years ago because I felt the crunch in my mouth (painless), I never had pain from it once, and there it stands still today. For all I know it was an old emergency filling I got as a kid, and the decay half crept under it ten odd years later, so it was dead long before then. My last adult appointments were in 2009, and that was only very, very reluctantly, and honestly I was in such a blind panic I have no idea what was even accomplished, outside of my mouth full of metal fillings. I get the regular sharp when drinking cold things going on at the top, but I'm never seeing what's causing that.

Regardless, I say it's come about so fast because I've been married (separated now 8 months, a lot bought on by my codeine use which made me numb. surprising) to someone anal about oral hygiene, yet she never once mentioned issues with me. In fact to the extent when I fell face first off my bicycle 3 years ago and chipped my front top tooth slightly, she noticed it within 5 minutes of me walking in the door, and I had plenty issues then, but that is probably testament to how well I kept everything hidden, as she absolutely would have done, not only just for me, but also never seeming bothered around her friends when I'd see them. But, fearing the worse about this recent ''issue'' in my mouth being ever-present every waking hour, I - for the first time like 10+ years believe it or not - really checked my mouth.

And...wow. I turn my head literally 45 degrees off center on top, look both ways, and use a finger to open each cheek and...every single tooth between the gaps is black. I don't think that's just surface level black, I stopped smoking 10+ years ago too, it's ''I can fit floss right in there" black. My front tooth is chipped as mentioned, but it's discoloured on the bottom edge like 1-2mm now too. One of my top incisors has a decent sized, easily visible gumline dot of dark decay from the front, which I knew about and always hid, but the back shocked me more because...it appears just an old, what from memory was a white filling, is taking up a good amount of that tooth, keeping it it in place. Bottoms? Well crap, as I said, if it's not cracked in half already it's filled with old metal, and my bottom front 4...there but are stained on the back, with superficial tiny cavities, but then again the rest of my teeth aren't immune from that either, to add insult.

So in other words the denial, never really checking or having any abscesses or prolonged aches, and kicking the can down the road was so powerful. I actually often brushed (never flossed - fuck), but I never looked really when I did, I just did the fronts I could see, and jammed it down my cheeks to do the rest thoroughly enough until my toothbrush buzzed at me to stop. Never looked into my mouth like this before today, believe it or not.

Why is it so hopeless? One, I can't take time off work. Really, I work strict fixed 12 hour days around childcare of my 3 year old. Since moving out proper 3 months ago, I've had a handful of days ''off'' with just me...and they're all weekends, mostly Sundays. I work exclusively Monday, Wednesday and Thursday (with one Saturday a month) and have her Tuesday and Friday. No flexibility. I do Saturdays I don't have her the weekend. It would be bad enough for one day off.

Two...I have no family up here available (I moved across country to be here), and while my mother in law is great with me, she also works full time and has her one day she's off....when me and the ex are at work. Even if she was always free, I'd still feel reluctant to admit to these issues to her.

Which leads to Three, I can't bring myself to admit to my ex even how bad it is, because no matter how cordial we are, it would not change anything as again, her schedule is around mine.

And Four, I'm in the UK, and no local NHS dentist within 50+ miles exists, so I'm having to do this Privately locally, I can't travel here there and everywhere either to various teaching places even they had places (because of the above) and just the cost alone for 3 implants is the entire budget...for a multi year commitment (yay for low wages too!), and I'm still at the age where as vain is it is, which seems stupid considering my mouth, I absolutely do not want to encourage bone loss.

So how the hell do I even begin to navigate this? Massive issues with multiple procedures, can't take time off work short notice, even if I do take time off work for a few days here and there, I'd still have to have my daughter and no childcare to rectify that, limited funds and a 5 year commitment just to raise what to a layman is the bare minimum....

I can't juggle this for a happy outcome, can I?
I've not slept since writing that, so it's now past 7am here.

I panicked and rang in work sick, because well I didn't have the balls to do anything to myself overnight, yet I couldn't not call in if that was the case, so I've just bought myself 3 days reprieve as by fluke I'm working a random Monday, Wednesday and Saturday week.

It's funny, I've never had so much trouble as I have with a half a tooth filling to the gumline that has fallen out, even with all my issues, yet prior had no problem going into work less than an hour after chipping my front tooth slightly. Nothing else has really been so abrupt as this and something i'm constantly aware of. It doesn't hurt, I just know it's there at all times, but it feels constantly wet and my mouth is dry as hell because I'm scared to swallow, and I can see the Dentin almost at a side swipe down to the the gumline.

So I'm at this ridiculous fork...call our National Emergency Line all day today and tomorrow to get an Emergency Appointment at whatever random dentist I can get to that has a quick no thrills slot under the power of my bicycle and public transport (and I live pretty rural so ha) without the pleasantries of addressing phobia and being able to say ''yeah everything else is screwed, but I actually do want to sort the rest of this", try and deal with it somehow until work in 3 days on the gamble that I'm 90% sure I'm losing it either way, and I'd at least be able to aggressively pursue private options, or well, there isn't really a third other option here other than making my peace with the world.
Nearly 2 hours later, still not moved, still not sure what I'm going to do. It's that same cycle of inaction that led to me to kicking the can down the road the previous times, just back then I could become blissfully ignorant quickly to the consequences of it. I don't have much road remaining for the proverbial can.

I'd even had 20mg of some Diazepam I found earlier from around the time of my mothers funeral while seeing if I had the Orajel just in case that I bought someone else, the irony. Always been overly tolerant to Benzos even though I've only used them just a handful of sporadic times in my life and...nothing. Not even a vague sedation, and I've not slept all night, that's how hyper this cycle of crap is keeping me already, and I've not even tried to get an emergency appointment. In fact I feel even more anxious that it's been a whole hour of the working day already that has ticked by.

It's paradoxically the fear of being investigated with scrutiny (while knowing I already have so many evident issues and that's only what I can see) and then knowing for certain in writing something that confirms my worse fear, and maybe even then some, but also the fear of knowing that even if I kept impeccable care of things from now on...it doesn't really make much of a difference either and isn't going to get any better, and thus far I've avoided major pain or swellings in my life, and that's going to come eventually.

Still doesn't really change the fact my choices today are ring all day today for any quick emergency slot I can get with no time or prep to discuss things to deal with the most acute issue of what is new and could easily end up worse, or do nothing.
So in 5 hours since my last post I've somehow managed to get an Emergency Appointment tomorrow through the National Health Service / low cost service to look at this "immediate" tooth (like the rest aren't...), and they said the practice will ring me from 8:30am onwards. It's just 10 minutes up the road on my bicycle, I was expecting to be either told ''pain manage best you can till you can get a dentist bye" or "there's a place but 2 hours on the train". Nobody I've seen has been so fortunate to have an emergency appointment allocated through the NHS so rapidly, if they're even seen at all and aren't just left for weeks bounced between urgent cares and local pharmacies so...I dunno how I managed that.

Weirdly it's at the same exact dentist that emailed me back just an hour before, with them saying that's something they can think about (a credit plan to take me on after an initial 70£ charge for the Emergency), and they start taking phone calls for emergency private appointments from 10:30 each day so ring early, and it's first come first serve. It's one of the only local practices that even seems so flexible on credit. Even weirder is this was the last Dentist I ever went to. At this point I can't not go. I work every Thursday 99% of the time, it's my fixed schedule, but I'm off, and I'm child free for it. The stars have aligned too much for me to waste this, as much as my body is already screaming out FUCK someone is going to see this mess tomorrow

I'm not going to complicate matters and e-mail them back saying ''oh I've been offered a NHS/public cost appointment", I'll just wait their call. I'm just indecisive on if I mention our brief email correspondence prior when I arrive, just so I stand a little bit better in their graces to offer to pay the private cost still, or just play dumb and pay the 30£ NHS emergency cost, with - more than likely - just enough to take pain away but unlikely to be much more than that.

Not that anyone in the UK will know and post so soon, but if you're reading...what do I do? Act dumb like it's just a randomly allocated low cost public dental emergency appointment, or say I actually spoke with you via email and was happy to pay the Private Emergency appointment cost, hoping down the line some honesty counts.
Hi, sorry for not being able to reply properly right now as I'm in a bit of a rush. Regardless of whether you pay 30£ or 70£, I think the more important thing is to find a dentist you like and trust. So first thing to do would be to check the reviews for this dentist and practice, and others in your area, and see if you spot anyone who appeals to you. We've got some tips for finding the right dentist here:

Sorry for this being so brief - hang on in there!
It's 5am my time, I've slept 3 hours but that's still only 4 hours in 48 including the hour the night before. I can't even work out that basic calculation in my head right now. Ugh, I feel like crap. Not sure if that's because I've barely eaten in 2 days, I've barely slept, I'm dealing with an 'acute' situation or what, but so cold and nauseous. To make matters worse I've got my daughter from 6pm tonight and all day the next day, so I hope whatever may come to pass doesn't do a number on me.

Thanks for the reply, really. Basically I have no dentist right now, and I've been offered an Emergency appointment today via our public healthcare line (allocated at any random practice) to attend to the ''biggest'' issue and prevent pain, and they'll ring anytime from 830am with a spot. Reading online it's pretty unusual to get something local so fast, some people are bounced around for weeks, so I can't not go, and it's only public health prices for the appointment (30£), which can be anything from extraction, fillings, a temp filling, to saying ''yeah here's some abx's" if you had an infection.

Just happens to be the same place that also said an hour prior that they could do private Emergency appointments, but I would have to ring myself in the morning to compete for spots, and pay 70£ just to be seen. But this is the only local practice that offers flexible/reasonable credit, and it's close enough to me to be about the best option, so I feel like divulging the fact we had corresponded that afternoon independently of public health and I was happy to pay a bit more feels like a better start somehow.

Annoying part is it really depends on what they do at the emergency. It's a balance between wanting to pay as little as possible right now as a single dad with the most bang for my buck, but also wanting to pay a bit more if there's an option of doing something more substantial.
My feeling is that they tend to just offer pain relief/antibiotics at emergency appointments, rather than dental treatment per se…. Still recommend you have a read of the links above 😊
They called me and said I'm booked in for 16:55....so in 7 hours. They close at 17:30, so I think you're likely right. Now I'm second guessing myself that going through that and getting down there just to ultimately throw 30£ away for the pleasure of pain relief that I probably have in the house just seems stupid. Then again some reviews have said they were seen as Emergencies not registered there and had teeth pulled or fillings so...I dunno.

I'm not sure what to do -- I found out I am actually on their waiting list to be seen as an NHS patient, they mentioned it to me on the phone...for the last 4 years. So long ago I don't even remember filling out the forms and taking them there, but I looked on my e-mail and had actually chased it up to make sure they got them.

Then just after the 'private' place next door (it's all one self contained thing really) called and asked if I still wanted to be seen as an Emergency, I explained I've just come off the phone with their NHS office who have offered to see me late afternoon. Then I explained I have a lot going on and I'm getting nowhere with NHS lists, so I still want to sign up privately, and she gave me the outline and said I can sign up now or by e-mail. I'm tempted to just e-mail and get it out the way today, 160£ upfront, a hit to be sure as a single Dad on a not fantastic salary, but I can finance whatever I need in stages and they're flexible so, it's that or...wait on NHS lists forever.

I feel even more confused than when I started!
That certainly does sound confusing, what is the £160 upfront fee for? Is it some sort of dental plan? It sounds too steep for a new patient appointment?
That's what I thought. The New Patient fee and examination with 2 X-rays is 75£, so I'm wondering if she misheard what I wanted and was adding an Emergency appointment fee on top. I've emailed them back to confirm that.

Regarding my appointment...man, I'm getting those feelings again. I've had a look in my mouth and I'm a mess. I can't believe someone is going to see that while looking just at a specific tooth. I feel like I'm complaining about broken window moments before a house demolition, on top of the huge dental phobia I already have.

I dunno if I just abandon this Emergency appointment and apologize profusely, and just deal with all the stress of someone seeing into my mouth when it's actually certain what the outcome could be. I dunno. But also I've wasted a slot someone else could have needed.

I'm not holding up well to be honest, I've spent the last 4 hours researching dentures and half the people there don't even seem that bad relatively speaking in their before. I won't be able to cope with that with certainty.
It's easy to catastrophise as a layperson and find stuff on Google that confirms our worst fears... many of the things you've described might be hugely improved even just with a professional cleaning... if you can get yourself to go and meet with a dentist, you'll probably feel a lot better afterwards. Even if the news is not brilliant, they're absolutely used to seeing people with all sorts of dental problems, and it's their job to fix them. Make sure thought that they're aware about how you feel about visiting the dentist - we've actually got a handy patient form here that you're welcome to use if you like:

Do you think I should still go to this Emergency appointment in....2 and a half hours to see to this immediate issue? It's not for a checkup, it's just to look at a single tooth and even then probably at best patch it up.

I know unless I get X-Rays they can't really tell anything concrete, but I dunno if just going in completely blind and explaining about the one tooth issue, and how I'm registering private next door and know I have tons of work to do.
Impossible to say... if patching it up may prevent more extensive treatment later on, then of course it's worth it, if not, then it may not be worth the fee... but you'll have no way of knowing unless you actually see a dentist. Sorry for being so unhelpful!
I suppose it's "only" 30£, but considering the fact my appointment is at 17:00, and the place shuts at 17:30, realistically what are they going to do in that time?

I dunno if I'm just putting myself through 2 sets of ''stress'' having this appointment and the one with a more regular dentist.
I suppose even if they didn't end up doing anything, seeing them might at least give you some peace of mind and guidance as to what to do/to avoid until you can see a "regular" dentist. And that, in turn, might have a positive impact on being able to sleep and feeling less stressed, and letting you deal better with work and childcare (depending on when they were able to offer a new patient appointment for, of course) :). So that could be a potential advantage. The potential disadvantage is that you won't be able to choose your dentist (I presume you'd have some degree of choice if you were registering as a private patient).
Yeah that's the thing, I'm on the fence. I'm really worried I'm going to make the damage much worse if I leave it on that tooth, but I'm not entirely sure they will do anything anyway until I can see a proper dentist. At least nothing other than try patch it up, but looking at it there's like nothing on the inner side, the outer front is there but it just / diagonal down toward the inner gumline. If anything is there it's a dark 1mm ring max around the gumline, but like the entire back half is gone. Anything I can do to try protect it myself from further damage?

God I've just had another layman investigation into my mouth and honestly it's so screwed up. Looking at it I can see probably 4 molars that will need to come out, couple premolars, front tooth sorting, other old big silver fillings not looking good, decay around the few white fillings I got in 2009.

How do you go from eating pretty much normal, chewing a pack of gum a day and thinking nothing really of it, to actually having teeth just as bad as the worse teeth? I knew I had issues, but I've gone from knowing I had a few issues to like, I'd be shocked if 75% are salvagable?
I didn't go to the Emergency. I feel incredibly guilty because I know how hard these are to get, especially locally, but on balance I'm not entirely sure what they could have done for me in 30 minutes before they closed, and the pain is now a 2-3/10. Kinda manageable. I really hope I haven't fucked myself over.

I have however booked in as a New Patient in the private practice, which made that decision much easier, and paid for an appointment on the 8th May. So next week. Any ideas what I can do at home to try and mitigate any further damage to it until then? Regular salt rinses I suppose and not eating on that side?
Hey, good job on making the first appointment which is often the hardest thing to do.

I had a pretty large hole in my tooth that I had to wait about 3 weeks to get filled. I avoided eating on that side at all and gently clean it as well as you can until you can get it sorted.

Try not second guess what the dentist will find, some teeth seem not salvageable but you might be surprised what can be saved even if they look bad visually.
Great advice from @Neos there :)

Brilliant to hear that you managed to book an appointment, the 8th of May isn't far away either!
@Neos the uncertainty is what I can't stand. I've had another unsettled sleep again, my daughter came over at 7pm, and both my ex and her mum (who bought her) said something is clearly going on and what's wrong with me? In 3 days I've eaten...2 protein bars, cereal, and 3 digestive biscuits. I can't focus on anything but this issue, not even switched off once. How I'm supposed to go to work tomorrow, and then Monday, and also Wednesday (when I've got my appointment but I'm just gonna have to tell them I need a couple hours free)..I dunno.

The worse part is also having no idea how I'm going to balance childcare, work, the potential cost and recovery, but all alone. I've all but accepted this is probably going to be a multi-year, credit & a loan situation, setting me back financially ten years+. I can't take any long periods of time off, and even the absolute worse case nightmare scenario of everything being ruined, I don't even have the luxury of just ''okay knock everything out and I'll see you in 2 months".

@letsconnect really I had to book something urgent. It's weird because first they said they had no availability till June, then all these other dates, and I was like please can you fit me in soon as I've got a lot of issues going on. I'm incredibly nervous and already feel sick but I'm past the point of no return already. I don't have a single molar without a filling already, what happens over the next 5 years when this happens again and again.