• Dental Phobia Support

    Welcome! This is an online support group for anyone who is has a severe fear of the dentist or dental treatment. Please note that this is NOT a general dental problems or health anxiety forum! You can find a list of them here.

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Recently developed dental phobia... my story



Dec 16, 2020
Well, I joined this forum in the throes of panic at 3am after breaking a bit of tooth chewing a granola bar. Luckily, it’s a root canal tooth i never crowned so there is no pain. But even something small like this, which will likely be an OK fix still sends me pretty far into the darkness. I guess I should start at the beginning.

The dentist was never a big deal to me growing up, I had cleanings, fillings, nothing ever bothered me. I’ve had the same dentist since childhood, he really is an angel and so supportive 100% of the time, knows what he’s doin for sure.

However, I was about 20 when I had an abscess on a lower molar that had an old filling in it. The pain was terrible, and antibiotics weren’t helping at all. When I went to the dentist, he had to make the decision to drill into the tooth to relieve the pressure. The numbing did not take, not even a little. I felt the whole thing. It was traumatizing I guess, because I am now constantly fearful of pain and not numbing. I avoid appts until my teeth break and then I HAVE to go in. It SUCKS. But I respect what my dentist did, because it really was necessary. The pain reduced immediately and the tooth was packed and a temp filling put in until we could finish the root canal. I’ve struggled being at the dentist ever since and the majority of my visits end in absolute tears.

Luckily, my angel of a dentist referred me to a place where I could be IV sedated. I’ve been there twice, for a root canal and extraction and I barely remember the appts. No tears.

I guess that brings me to now. It’s funny cuz the tooth that cracked was the same one he had to drill into “hot“. I really hope it can be rebuilt, rather than another extraction. I think my dentist said there is a cavity in there as well that will need to be fixed. Ugh. I had an appt booked for that, but not until next month and now I have to wait that long with a broken root canal tooth. But it’s not giving me any problems or pain, so I guess I’m ok and it’s not an emergency. I would never want to take any time from a patient who truly needs.

My phobia is getting out of hand but I’m determined to overcome. Joining this forum is the first step, and I have made a goal to finish all my fillings (5) this year. It’s weird, but simply venting also helps a lot. Maybe this journal will resonate with someone who can relate!

The mantra that helps get me through the dark times (like thinking all my teeth will fall apart) is “I am grateful for my teeth, access to good care, and dental insurance”. Keep repeating it until the anxiety backs off a bit.

sending love to anyone who needs it.
Hi Lrobyn :welcome: ,

thank you for sharing your story with us. I believe that dental anxiety is something we get reminded of regularly and gradually (by mean granola bars for example) until things get to a point of "enough is enough." I believe most big life changes come in this way actually.

The visit you described sounds very traumatizing and it sounds like the broken tooth reminded you of what had happened back then. What an awful experience. If I got you right, this was the same dentist that you have been seeing since childhood? And you get your treatment with IV since then?

All the best wishes and look forward to read your updates! :grouphug:
Hi Enarete! Thank you for your reply :) You are so kind!

This was the same dentist I have been seeing since childhood - he really is lovely. Excellent bedside manner, gentle, and understands my anxiety. He just has problems getting me totally numb - probably not his fault. I had Bells Palsy back in 2012, so maybe my nerves are all weird now, but that is now the root cause of my fear (potential shot of pain in the nerve of a tooth).

He has done all my dental work, except for an extraction and root canal. I was referred to another clinic that offered sedation due to overwhelming anxiety (i.e. bursting into tears in the chair when he would try to work). The IV dentist is lovely as well, she took good care of me and I don't remember a thing from either appt.

I went back to my regular dental clinic for a cleaning, which went fine. I had very mild anxiety, cleanings don't bother me at all - just the potential of nerve pain during fillings, root canals etc.

I have to go back in a month to my regular clinic to address this broken root canal tooth and hopefully fix it and eventually crown. Part of the tooth broke to the gum line (but not under) so I am really hoping to avoid another extraction. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

I also picked up a prescription for Ativan to help me get through the dentists door and calm down in the chair to accept the prognosis. If it can be rebuilt, I'm sure I will be ok but if it an extraction, I dunno if I will be able to do it. I may have to get referred for IV sedation, but then more anxieties come about what to replace it with, as it is a first molar on the bottom right (implant? bridge? geez).

All in all, anxiety is ever present and will be until Jan 18, when I go back. I'm on a cancellation list to get in sooner, but I guess I have an opportunity to practice patience.

Gratitude always helps - I am thankful for my teeth, access to good care, and insurance.