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Really really scared, crying everyday, lost job over this anxiety of being sedated



Dec 7, 2023
Hello all,

I have a lower molar that is infected under a large filling on my left bottom side and has to come out. I also need 10 fillings and another broken molar on my right side but that one isn’t giving me problems yet. I have put off dental work for so long now I’m hysterical thinking of it. My dentist has me scheduled for an iv sedation for the extraction and all fillings on my right side for next Thursday and I am hysterical everyday. I can’t stop crying thinking about it, I feel like I’ll die if I have the procedure done. Like literally I feel like I signed up for my own execution. I know it’s dramatic and the process is overall safe but I cannot shake this anxiety. My job told me to take a leave because I couldn’t even concentrate and get my work done, I’m sure my husband and daughter are tired of hearing me cry and obsess over it, my friends too, it’s overwhelming my whole life…and I’m so scared. Scared of having it done and dying, but also scared I’ll get there Thursday and won’t be able to go through with it and then this infected tooth will continue to be an issue causing me pain and a worse issue or I’ll have to be on antibiotics forever (I’m on my second course because as soon as I finished the first within 24hrs the pain started creeping back in). Has anyone else dealt with this type of intense anxiety over iv sedation before? Like I am writing letters to my daughter and husband in case I die, feeling like every single thing I do will be the last time I get to do it, and thinking about how it’s going to ruin my daughters life to have me die so close to Christmas. I am a wreck 😭
Hi Mrs Murray
We are on this forum for a reason. Maybe same phobia or slightly different but all need help. I am so sorry you have your issue. I know it's easy to say it will be OK but just saying the word Dentist wasn't possible for me till last week. But I avoided going for so long I literally lost my personality. Couldn't smile etc. I'm sure you have heard or read it all before. I had IV sedation and I promise you it was the best thing I have ever done. You feel a slight scratch then go for best sleep ever. Although you are able to hear some of what was being said you feel no pain. In fact you are unaware of anything. As soon as it was finished I was wide awake. Able to get up and happily walk with friend to the car. The relief from all my years of anxiety was gone. I had to have 2 visits within 4 weeks and 2nd time I actually looked forward to going. I could ramble on for hours about my anxiety but please believe me. You won't look back. Good luck. Let us know how you got on x
Thank you for your reply and telling me about your experience. I just keep thinking the odds of me dying from the iv sedation don’t seem that good, like higher risk than I expected to see. Google has been so bad for my brain, and this anxiety has me restless. I really feel like maybe I’m going to have to try to have it done without the iv but that’s so scary to me too. It’s all too scary to me 😭

Oh am sorry too hear how you feel . Im the same , absolutely petrified of anything medical .
I had my teeth out ( two plus some detains root ) out under general anaesthetic as they were badly infected.
I am glad they are out now .
It’s normal too feel the way you do.
@Mrsmurray23 You are not alone. I catastrophize and experience such a sense of dread before all dental work and sometimes even just exams and consultations. I know what you mean about feeling like you have signed up for your own execution. My pattern has mostly been to wait until something is unavoidable because of the dreadful feeling of voluntarily going in and dying when I could have put something off longer and by doing that I could live longer. I also have been so distracted that I can't focus on work. The only thing saving me there is that I work from home with relatively flexible hours so I can simply be available during my work hours even if I have to stop and start all day and often work into the evening to make up time. Phobias are not rational. They just aren't. This thinking has resulted in me losing eight teeth so far in addition to my wisdom teeth. I simply let needed fillings go until they had to be pulled. I'm trying so hard not to lose any more. You will be so relieved once you get that bad tooth out and get those fillings in so that you can save those teeth.

By the way, it's so bizarre - my brother had five extractions this last summer and I drove him to the appointment because he was getting IV sedation. He has a serious dental phobia, too. I was feeling guilty for driving him there and not stopping him from surrendering himself to his own death. The sedation was no problem at all. It was a breeze and he was quite himself almost right away. I thought he would be groggy and stuff, and he wasn't. So I was even catastrophizing for someone else.

My only question is if you were the one who chose the IV sedation or if you would prefer local anesthetic? I had an extraction last December, two extractions in March (together) and two fillings in April (together), all under just local anesthetic, and I am one of the biggest dental phobics you will ever see. Each time once it was done, I was in a state of relief and wonder at how I feared it so much. Then, of course, I was in utter dread for the next one. It's just the way it is, and I try not to beat myself up about it. The only thing I have to do is make sure I only ever do one quadrant of my mouth at a time so that the rest of my mouth feels as normal as possible. I just wondered if local anesthetic instead of IV sedation would help to allay your fears of dying.
@Anne2021 thank you so much for your reply. It’s helpful to know someone else feels the same way to I do, not that I would ever wish this feeling on anyone 😭

My dentist recommended iv sedation because I have such a hard time even going to the dentist, and the idea of the bottom half of my mouth being numb sends me into full hysterics. I’ve had it done twice before (for two other extractions I didn’t have a choice but to get because they were so far gone) and I made it through those…but it’s been a few years so now I’ve catastrophized it so much even the thought of being numb, I’m scared I’ll have a panic attack once it happens and then not be able to go through with the extraction and have wasted that numbing and traumatic experience for nothing.

Have you ever had IV sedation or you just do the local every time?
@Mrsmurray23 I see. I have never had IV sedation and always do local. There are two reasons:

1) I have a rare mitochondrial enzyme deficiency. Not much is understood or known about it and the best information I can get is from information that is focused on mitochondrial disease in general, even if not my specific enzyme. Sometimes, people with mitochondrial disease don't handle anesthesia/sedation well due to an exaggerated effect on their respiration. They would need someone more skilled to monitor them under sedation (like a good anesthesiologist). I haven't ever needed anethesia/sedation yet, and I hope I won't ever need it.

2) For me, part of coping with the anxiety is feeling as much in control of the situation as possible. Being sedated would be too much of a loss of that coping mechanism. Some of that may be related to the mitochondrial disease because I know more about it than the health care professionals I encounter since they've never heard of it, and I don't want them to put me out and then treat me like everyone else they work with and expect my body to work the same way. Psychologically I just need to be fully aware of everything that's going on. My brother is the opposite. Once he knew he had to do the extractions, he wanted to be offered as few options as possible. When the oral surgeon's office assumed sedation, he went with it.

If you think you are more likely to follow through with it if you get IV sedation, then I would go for it if I were you. I often wish I didn't have this unusual health situation so I could approach things like a "normal" person and just relax into the sedation, let go, and wake up with it all over with.
@Mrsmurray23 My heart goes out to you! I just had my 7th trigger finger surgery and now face all teeth being pulled and dentures. I paid for years and now qualified for Medicaid. I just wanted to remind you that dentists, like doctors, go for continuing education and hear about the latest developments to do fast, painless long-lasting procedures for us. Just don't listen to horror stories! Aunt Sally's procedure even two years ago is just her story. You and your dentist will write a better one!
I just wanted to chime in to say I also relate. I have OCD and health anxiety is a massive trigger point. I had to have my gallbladder removed a few months ago. The way you described it as "signing up for your own execution" is literally spot on. I, too, was writing letters to my wife, telling her how to access things if I died. I was CERTAIN I was going to die, and I was certain I was choosing it. But I also knew I was panicking.

How did I cope? I did what youre doing... leaned on supports, sought reassurance. Mostly: I just kept going til it was here and then it was done. I knew realistically how unlikely I was to die. That didn't lessen my fear but it kept me moving forward. I acknowledged my anxiety, why I had it, did not judge it, knew it was understandable. I held space for it, but kept going forward. I tried to access the core me that was not freaking out. Therapy helped. I needed to take control, I needed to take the risk for a happier life, I needed to avoid worse medical issues from not doing the thing now, since those were statistically more likely than dying in surgery.
@rockitorknockit Responding to both you and Anne, I might be thrown off for bringing this up, but sometimes past lives make problems. I went for umbilical hernia surgery like a robot because I was hurting and the repair had to be done. When a little Filipina woke me up at the end, I said, "Wow! I'm alive!" but now I've figured out I may have been -- maybe too violent -- I might have been killed that way in the immediate past life. Murdered in the bath. It may also explain my lifelong reluctance to undress and bathe. As to anaesthetic, the anaesthesiologist for my recent trigger finger repair had an M.D. and LOOKED LIKE A SWEDISH CHRISTMAS ANGEL!!! Young and super-competent!
@rockitorknockit thank you for sharing your feelings - it’s so helpful for me to know others feel this same way, and that it’s not inituition (because it feels so real) - it’s anxiety. Im so happy your surgery is done and you’re still here!
Had a family of narcissist then after years of going- finally got a big fear of dental work later in life....
which is now going away again...
@newone3227 that’s great that your fear of dental work is going away! Wish you all the best of luck in any future procedures