• 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.

    Register now to access all the features of the forum.

Seeking a second dentist



Junior member
Jul 10, 2023
Harrisburg, PA
I recently went to the dentist after over 8 years. My delay was not only due to anxiety but also lack of insurance while self-employed. Anyways, I received what I expected - early stages of periodontal disease, cavitities, partial dentures, and a dental crown. While the bad news was expected, I hated my experience at the dentist for other reasons. I felt like a number going through an assembly line. The dentist himself was fine, no warmness whatsoever. The front office financial person seemed irritated by my questions. She was not rude just indifferent. By the time I left I felt awful about myself and the experience. You see I made the mistake of choosing a dental chain because I am new to town (Harrisbur, PA) and could not get a recommendation. If only I knew about this forum, I might have come here first. I digress.

I am thinking of seeing another dentist, a private practice, with three dentists who seem kind enough from their website. I also should mention, I am black and there's always the looming threat that the person who I find may not like me for the shade of my skin. At 55, I've had my fair share of experiences which have left we with a healing, but wounded heart.

I am also concerned about my insurance covering a second set of xrays only days apart - I am waiting to hear back from my insurance. Of course, I can always request the chain dental place forward my x-rays to the new dentist... but at this time, I would rather not deal with them at all. And I don't even know if I will like the new dentist too or if I will feel comfortable there (as mentioned above)... YIKES!

I can't imagine going back to the old place because my feelings are still raw (only two days ago).

Anyhow, this is long so I will stop here. I am wondering if anyone had similar experiences and how did they handle it. I welcome your opinions, experiences, and advice.
@Zaza I'm sorry you had that bad experience at the dental office, it is no good to be treated in a cold, rude, indifferent way. I think going somewhere else is a great idea. I switched dentists last year. I already knew chains were a bad idea, and like you I needed a lot of work. I would suggest checking out google reviews by looking up the office on google maps, as well as yelp. The new dentist I went to x-rayed me for free without charging my insurance. It might have been from kindness, since I made it clear I didn't have a lot of money, but it might be because I needed some expensive treatment, so they knew they would make money in the end. One thing you could do with the chain place to get the x-rays is ask them to email them to you, not to the other dentist. You have the right to have them sent to you, you don't have to have them sent to another dentist. I have my dentist email me my xrays, and I tell them, the xrays are for a dentist I talk to online, meaning the ask a dentist forum of this website. I think if you feel better about the website of this place you were checking out, that is a good thing. I looked at all the websites of local dentists, and started to see patterns, and I could tell which one would be more what I wanted after a while. For me I felt better about the website of the place I am at now, and I was right. Good luck with everything, and I hope you find a better dentist soon!

There is also this stuff which you may have seen already:
Hi @Zaza,

So sorry to hear that your first trip back into the dental world was such a letdown. Dental chains in the US have a reputation for not always providing care that's in the patient's best interest, so maybe you had a lucky escape (despite the trauma that the visit entailed). Really glad to hear that you haven't given up and that you're already in the process of looking for a new dentist!

I was just about to post some pages that might be of interest, but I see that @NervousUSA has already beat me to it :p.

If you want your x-rays but don't want to have to deal with their staff directly - and who could blame you - personally, I find it easier to email places (less personal) rather than phone them, so they can't put you on the spot, so that might be an option. Also, in the UK at least, I think your new dentist can request your past records on your behalf (with your permission of course), so that might be another option.

Maybe you could ask if it's possible to drop in for an informal chat with your dentist of choice at the new place you've found? That way, you could check out if there are any negative vibes, rather than having to commit to anything. We always recommend that people look at their first appointment as an opportunity to interview their potential dentist, and see if they want to hire them as their dentist.

There's also a step-by-step walkthrough here on the website. It's written for those with a very severe fear of the dentist, but I'm sure some of the tips in there will apply to anyone, even people who are only mildly nervous.

Anyway, a big welcome and thanks so much for joining!
@NervousUSA Thank you, I didn't expect such a quick response from this website. This is very helpful Actually, just having someone who "get's it helps a lot. Thank you again!
@letsconnect Awe~ this is awesome advice. Thank you. I never considered just walking in and speaking to them directly. They are less than a mile from me. I will do this tomorrow. At the very least I can gage their reaction to my presence. Thank you again!
@Zaza, that sounds like a plan. Wishing you all the best for tomorrow, I hope they're as good as they appear on their website!
@Zaza it is essential that those of us with dental anxiety like and trust not just our dentist but the whole office team. If there are any doubts or issues it may make it hard for you to keep going. This is a long term relationship we are trying to establish and there is absolutely nothing wrong with deciding that a practice isn’t right for you.
@Zaza you can also ask the new office to request your records. You’ll need to sign a form but they should be able to do the actual talking to the old office