• Dental Phobia Support

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So Scared. It's been about 15 years since I last went to the dentist.



Junior member
May 20, 2015
Hello all!

I'm so terrified of going to the dentist because it's been so long. I'm 30 now and I haven't been to a dentist since high school. This long absence made me fear even more about going because I'm uninsured, so I'm scared to know about how much this journey will cost since I've neglected it so long. I keep having visions of thousands of dollars... which terrifies me to no end. So for years and years I've been avoiding the dentist (despite my mom reminding me that I really need to go, to which I would reply, I promise I'll go if something hurts because I really didn't want to go and to be honest, nothing ever hurts).

Well, last Friday, something didn't hurt, but it didn't feel right. I could feel a "rubbing" on the inside of my cheek. So, I got a flashlight out to try and see what was going on, and the tooth in question (my top wisdom tooth) was more brown than white looking on the side. And I'm not talking yellowing, but actual dark brown spots. So... terrified now that my tooth is brown and rotting, I stuck my finger back there (hello gag reflex) and it feels like the entire back side of the tooth is missing! Plus a back tooth on the bottom (not a wisdom tooth though) has a hole in it and looks funny (I'm thinking maybe a metal filling fell out of it at some point? It doesn't look like the other teeth back there.) so it obviously needs fixing too. But call it a blessing (or a curse for not alerting me sooner) neither teeth, or any others have ever hurt. None are even sensitive to hot or cold.

So, I asked my dad about who his dentist is because I wanted to call to see what something like this would cost to fix, because again, I don't have insurance, but it doesn't sound like something that would be cheap. So he gave me the number, but I was already hesitant about going there, because my sister went there probably 5 years ago and had a bad experience and didn't like it. But my dad has been going there for probably 5-8 years at least every three months (that's just the special cleanings, he's gone countless other times for the "hard" work on top of that - lucky him, he's got insurance) because he didn't go to a dentist for around 10 years.

Now seeing that his teeth apparently needs so much work (or the dentist has a lot of car payments to make) scares me, because there's no way I could afford to get that kind of frequent and constant work done on my teeth, but since my absence was even longer, I'm scared that my prognosis will be even worse! And to top it all off, I've got such bad memories from when I went to the dentist of getting talked down all the time to that I'm so scared that I'll disappoint the dentist by the poor condition of my teeth. (Which in my head I "know" are poor, but in reality, I have no idea other than a couple areas which obviously need work). I know I shouldn't feel guilty and ashamed, but I do. It's an irrational fear. Plus, my childhood dentists were never gentle even when just cleaning, so I also fear the pain aspect of dentistry.

Regardless, I gathered up all my courage, grabbed the phone, and while shaking like a crazy person, dialed the number. But no one picked up. Just an answering machine message about their office hours and lunch break schedule, blah blah, whatever. But according to their message, they should have still been open for business. Okay, maybe they are just busy. So I called again a little later and a little later, but nothing. It was a long weekend here, so it looks like they took an extra long weekend. Which meant more irrational fears until Monday. Great...

Monday rolls around (today) and I even can't sleep this morning because I'm so worried to even call the dentist and make the appointment. So, I'm lying in bed early in the morning, and tossing and turning, and finally give up and decide I will try again to gather up all my courage. So, I sort of tip toe to the phone, but before I get there, my dad's girl friend says hi from behind me (which nearly gave me a heart-attack, because I was so focussed on the dental crisis) so I mention to her that I have to call the dentist and she tells me that she went to my dad's dentist before too and also, like my sister, didn't like him at all.

So, great, now I have two people that I know aren't fans of this dentist, which puts my mind at ill ease. So she and I get to talking and she tells me all about this other dentist that she goes to now and about how she really likes him and about how gentle the dentist is and how she got a wisdom tooth taken out there and it was like nothing at all, and how another lady in the office came in and squeezed her hand while she was in the chair because she was so scared. And I was thinking, this sounds like my kind of place! Catering to the cowards. Gentle. Understanding.

Then she finds me the number for that dentist and I have another mini-freakout, but make the call and the girl who answered was very nice and though I was shaking and nervous, she seemed very pleasant and I left the call feeling good because soon all this drama will have an end. I'm happy to report - my appointment is for next Thursday. (which honestly, I've been thinking about all day, the waiting is brutal - it's weird how I haven't gone in 15 years, yet I'm worried now about what if things get worse in a week and a half?)

(By the way, they quoted me about $190 for a consult with full x-rays and an explanation of future plans for what will be needed to get my mouth back to happyland. I might have paraphrased a bit there.)

Anyway, to calm my nerves after the call, I enjoyed a nice hot shower. My relief was short-lived however, because right when I came out, my dad was home (he was out when I made the appointment) and he was all harping on what a mistake I had made not going with "his" dentist. About how my sister and his girlfriend didn't know what was what and how this other dentist is going to be so much more expensive than his dentist who never charges him anything. I tried to explain to him about how he doesn't pay because he's got good insurance... but he wouldn't listen and just kept talking over me about how I should have just gone with his dentist from the get go, but I'll "figure that out" after I'm so disappointed during my first appointment at this other dentist, which will apparently make me want to automatically switch to my dad's superior dentist. He even asked me if I wanted to cancel the appointment I'd so fretted over making, and go make a new one with his...

Gotta love it, I'm still more than a week from my appointment and already feeling regrets about starting this whole mess up. Again, I know they are irrational regrets, but still, they nag at me none-the-less.

Also - sorry for being so long winded in this, but I really needed to get some of this off my chest.
Wow, well done for making those calls. The phone calls of doom! I can't believe you managed it like three times. I had to get my mother to call for me. Not my most adult moment!

Your dad is being a bit of a pillock, if you don't mind me saying, but if he goes regularly then there's probably no way he can comprehend how anxious you are over this, and probably doesn't understand how much worse he's making it. And parents can be so bloody stubborn when they think they know what's best! I think you definitely did the right thing by listening to other's bad experiences and going on your dad's girlfriend's advice.

So hang in there! Tune your dad out, and look forward to an end in sight! When it comes to cost, you won't have to agree to getting all the work you might need done immediately. You can have them sort out the most pressing issue, pay for that, and then deal with other funds later - if it's needed at all.

I wish you the best of luck on appointment day. Don't feel bad if you're freaking out or crying. Dentists see that *all the time*. They're cool with it. It's not even slightly a big deal to them. And I shouldn't be worried about pain either. Dentistry has improved a lot in these past years!

You should keep us updated on your journey, especially because you've got a knack for storytelling. Best wishes :hug4: x
Thanks Sevena for the response!

Yea, I hate making phone calls on the best of days (I don't even like calling to order a delivery meal!) so for me to get up the courage to actually make those calls were quite the accomplishment. I probably would have asked my mom to call too if I lived at her house, but I'm sure you can understand why I didn't want to ask my dad. He's a rather stubborn and confrontational man lol...

On the plus side, I told my mom that I made an appointment and she was much relieved, since she'd been trying to get me to go for a long time now. When I was worrying to her about how much money it would cost, she even said she'd help me out if things are really bad, which is reassuring. I've got some savings, but I'm scared about what happens when that runs out. I don't really want to eat into my mom's savings for something that is ultimately my fault for avoiding. But like you said, this work isn't going to happen over night and they can work to my schedule.

That's a reassurance I'd forgotten about. I somehow had it in my mind that I would go in there and hear this giant price tag associated with all the work that I "obviously" will need to be done. (I'm hoping I'm over-reacting, because us worriers tend to jump to worst case scenarios). Really, all I'm going there for on the first appointment is to get everything looked at and to create a plan for what needs to be done. All I'm on the hook for right now is $190 and I know I've got that covered no problem.

Nice thing too, my dad even pretty much offered up his "car savings" money that he's been saving up for about half a year now. There's no way I want to use that money and honestly his fund isn't even much, but I know his current car won't make it through another winter, so I want him to keep his money. It's really the thought that made me happy after all the things he said yesterday. Maybe he just needed a day to clear his thoughts. He didn't mention anything else about how much of a mistake I'd made today, so that's nice. He does have a supportive streak in him, when he's not being all stubborn and standoffish. :)

All-in-all, I'm feeling better today than I was yesterday about this whole ordeal. Did have a mini-freak out when I was driving and saw a dental office (not even the one I'm going to mind you...). but it was still like, the bad memories and the perceived future horrors were all represented by that one unknown office. Stupid fear really, since I've never even been there. For all I know, they are the best dentists in the world. Funny how even the word, 'Dentist' on a sign brings up such bad feelings lol.

Anyway, things are good at the moment. I'm feeling (moderately) positive. Hopefully this lasts :)
Well, a new day and a new story... I'm pretty sure that my wisdom tooth is continuing to crumble away little by little... I came to this conclusion because I hadn't eaten anything yet today and I could feel these little gritty pieces between the chewing surface of my back teeth on that side. I picked out the pieces (because my paranoia told me they must be tooth pieces, either from "that" wisdom tooth or the other tooth back there with a hole in it), and though they were pretty tiny, they looked tooth coloured on the one side and dark brown on the other side - the same kind of brown that I can see on the side of my wisdom tooth. (The "hole" tooth looks unchanged.)

It's freaking me out though... what if more of it falls out in the mean time? What if it completely crumbles away? It's still a week before I have my first consultation!

I guess I shouldn't care too deeply about what it's doing at this point, since it will probably be pulled anyway. It's not like it's even a valuable tooth that I can use. There's no connecting tooth to help it chew with. It's just kind of sitting there on its own with its chewing surface pointing at an angle towards my cheek... Didn't stop me from chewing my lunch on the other side of my mouth though, because now I'm too scared that the rest will break off if food so much as touches it.

Trying to stay positive, but now I have this nagging fear that I'll find more tooth fragments....
Well, if you're accepting of the idea it will probably need to be pulled anyway, there's no use worrying over it too much! It doesn't matter if it crumbles down to the gumline, it won't make it any easier or harder for them to remove. Though I know fine well the feeling of dread if you find tooth fragments.

If the tooth is set apart from the others, that might be why it decayed so much in the first place. Crooked teeth can wear unevenly, or be harder to clean as well.

Chewing on the other side of your mouth is a good call anyway. :) x
As the days count down to my appointment, I find myself worrying again about silly things. Specifically about just who I'll be seeing at my appointment. The recommendation I have is for a specific dentist and though I called his office, his practice is called "His Name and Associates". Naturally, I'm worried about the what ifs.

What if there's other dentists at the office as 'and Associates' would imply. What if I don't get to see the recommended dentist I'm expecting. And what if I don't like this other "mystery" dentist that my head is telling me that I'll be stuck with.

It's silly, but I'm worried sick about getting stuck with a "dreaded associate". (Not that there's probably anything wrong with this other mystery person should I end up with them instead, but these nagging feelings are telling me to run for the hills, because I'm once again faced with the great unknown.)

Anyway, part of me is saying to just forget it, things will work out. I'll deal with the situation when and if it comes at the office on Thursday. But still, my stomach is in knots. The other part of me just wants to give the dentist's office another call and ask who it is that I will be seeing, but I feel like the most ridiculous, high-maintenance patient ever to call over something so trivial.
So I have 2 thoughts:
-- I think it's totally ok to call if it is going to put your mind at ease. It's not at all unreasonable to know who you will be seeing and go specifically request to see a particular dentist.
-- The dental office I go to is also called '... Associates' and there is only one dentist. There is a periodontist who is there part time and at other times there has been an endodontist there part time, but there has only ever been one dentist. So, it's possible that there is no mystery 'associate' despite the name of the practice.

Best of luck to you... Please let us know how it goes!
Thanks for being that rational voice in my ear, FearfulInMA.

I did end up calling them, but I'm still sort of on edge because though I tried acting all nonchalant on the phone while I was talking with the receptionist, I felt like such a doorknob the whole time and stuttering over my words lol

Regardless, she told me exactly what I wanted to hear. I will be indeed seeing the dentist I had hoped for. Now if only my stomach would stop doing flips... I can't believe the appointment is tomorrow already.

Will definitely let everyone know how things go tomorrow.
Excellent news! That's one less thing for you to worry about :)
:jump: Well... I did it!! :jump:

Today's appointment was so much easier than I thought it would be! A lady there took a bunch of x-rays and the dentist poked around in my mouth for a bit. The x-rays were probably the most uncomfortable part, but not entirely bad. Minimal pain from them (they used these plastic things that I had to bite on that seemed bigger than my mouth could hold - she even got the "baby" ones to use later on. She apologized for pretty much every x-ray she took. I was starting to feel bad for making her feel bad lol... But all-in-all it wasn't bad, she was super nice and I couldn't even feel the pain by the end of the visit.)

As for the dentist, he looked around with his mirror and "poker" for lack of a better word, marking down information about my teeth (sounded like he was listing off my previous fillings) and then he poked on some of the chewing surfaces of my teeth, which I was afraid would hurt, but even though I could feel the pressure, there was no pain.

Then he poked around my gums counting off numbers which I was told represented pocket depth. Super minimal pain for that - I've hurt myself worse when I'm flossing and "slip". He read off lots of 2s, with some 3s and 1s mixed in. There were a couple 4s at my wisdom teeth, but he was surprised how healthy everything seemed after not seeing a dentist in so long. He told me to keep doing what I'm doing, because it's working! (It was great to hear that praise. I was so worried I'd get the guilt trip about how I shouldn't have waited so long, and how my mouth is ruined because I did. But nothing like that!)

Anyway, he said that all of the wisdom teeth really should go, but they are all badly impacted and would be very hard to get out. He apparently does wisdom teeth extraction himself, but not ones that are as hard as mine would be, so he referred me to another dentist to have that done. Kind of worried about going to a new office, but I will have a couple weeks before I need to really deal with that as that consultation is scheduled for the middle of June.

I already made the appointment for the wisdom teeth (I'm becoming a pro at scheduling appointments now), and the consultation will be about $180. That includes the extra "jaw x-rays" that they will have to do. The x-rays from today will also be sent over. They will talk about the cost of the actual extractions during that appointment, but my dentist told me it would likely be over $1000.

Other than that, the dentist said I had a couple of small cavities (I was expecting him to say 5 or 8 or something, but two sounds like nothing!), but he's going to work on those probably like three or four weeks after the wisdom teeth come out. And then I'll have a cleaning done and then I should be all up to date!

Oooh... I feel so relieved now. Things are so much better than my mind was expecting. :love:
That's fabulous, well done you :welldone::welldone::yay::yayy:

Really glad it all went so well for you; the worst thing is not knowing the state of things and that last long wait to go in.

$1000 sounds like a lot but for saying you haven't been for quite some time that's pretty good as a per year rate (I have been going regularly for the lSt 25 years and in the last 12 months it's cost me well over $5000).

again, well done for facing what is an incredible fear for us phobics, what you have done takes a lot of courage,much respect:respect:
Yay! So glad your appt went well!!! $1000 sounds about right to have 4 wisdom teeth out by an oral surgeon. BUT, if you are going to an oral surgeon because they are impacted, your medical insurance (not dental) may pay for a good part of that, it's worth at least checking into.
That's definitely something worth asking - about the health insurance. Though I've read that it's only covered if it's done in a hospital, so I'm not very hopeful on that front. Then again, they did ask for me to bring my health card to the consultation, so who knows :hmm:
You can also call your insurance company (number should be on the back of the card) and ask them. If they do cover the wisdom teeth extractions done by an oral surgeon, you'll want to make sure the oral surgeon you were referred to is in network with your health insurance.
You can also look into something called Care Credit - it's a credit card (you can get it even with bad credit). My husband got one when our cat was suddenly sick and we needed help paying for emergency care - hubby had horrible credit at the time and still was given $500 of a credit line.

I have good credit credit and was able to get Care Credit to cover my whole $11k worth of work if I need to get it done now.

What's awesome is that it is an interest free loan for any where between 18 - 24 months. As long as you pay that treatment within the time, you won't owe any interest. If you don't pay, you will have all of the interest tacked on after the time runs out and they have high interest rates.

I'm making $175 monthly payments on about $2400 worth of dental work (at least). $175 is something I can afford right now compared to $2400.

Just something to look into if you need help paying for your dental care!
I didn't even know such a thing existed. Will definitely have to look into that depending on how much all of this is going to cost me.