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Sol's Journal

Sol

Sol

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 26, 2010
Messages
264
Location
USA
Sorry, I couldn’t think of a clever title.;)

Starting this journal to help process my thoughts and hopefully leave some of the anxiety behind in these words. I’m looking into changing dentists and it has really stirred up my nerves. Caught myself being more forgetful this week, zoning out at work and not sleeping as well.

Hopefully recounting my experiences will remind me of the good experiences and the things I’ve learned so far. I remember the last time I wrote something like this I felt a lot of relief so maybe I can repeat that.

Backstory

http://www.dentalfearcentral.org/forum/showthread.php?22762-Thank-You-For-This-Site

If you want to start from the beginning check the link above. This old post from the success story forum recounts my childhood experiences and first visit in 2013 after avoiding going to a dentist for 8 years. After rereading this post, it’s a fairly good summary but I now realize there are a few things that were left out or that I understood better in retrospect. I basically plan on catching up from that post to where I am now. (It will probably be awhile until I catch up to present time.)

The source of the phobia in the last post was listed as unknown, still don’t know what experience caused it exactly, but fairly certain now it was passed on to me by my parents. My father is a redhead and has the issue with getting properly numb. (Thankfully he didn’t pass that gene on.) He has never talked to me about past experiences but I can only imagine the difficulty he had with getting treatment. My mother on the other hand, will gladly share her stories about bad experiences with dentists. In her case its almost like those fears have now morphed her opinion. She can’t understand why anyone nowadays is afraid because the experience is better compared to when she was younger. Guessing this combo is what lead to my fears and why my parents weren’t more proactive in making me go to the dentist until I was ten years old.

The prior post also left out some other memories from childhood and additional bad experiences. I wasn’t ready to share those stories then. However, I’m coming more to the conclusion that I won’t be able to improve from where I currently am if I can’t acknowledge these old memories and how they impact my anxieties.

Two memories from childhood that are similar are from when I was in the first and second grade. The details are fuzzy, I’m not sure if this dentist was the father of a kid in class or if he was just doing this as a public service, but he came once a year to speak to the class about hygiene. Remember wanting to sit as far away as possible and hoped that I was invisible among the other students. I guess this was awkward because unlike the other kids I didn't have prior experiences with dental appointments. In my mind, I also needed to keep my mouth shut. I was terrified the dentist would see my teeth and comment on them. I know that is completely irrational but it shows how deep rooted the embarrassment fear is and how self-conscious I felt about my teeth even at a young age.

Skipping ahead a bit with this next memory but it follows in suit with feeling embarrassed/self-conscious about my teeth. From age 12-15 I had braces. Didn’t really enjoy the experience but the last appointment with the orthodontist office is what really wrecked any confidence in my smile. The prior appointment, the braces were taken off so they did molds for a retainer and took a photo of me smiling with the orthodontist to add to their wall of patient photos. During the following appointment to pick up the retainers, I could hear the nurses talking in the hall. They were laughing at the photo of me smiling. “Can you believe its that girl over there?” Obliviously, I was mortified and wondered what was the point of me having braces in the first place. I did see the photo later; my big toothy grin wasn’t flattering in the photo. The experience made me so self-conscious of my smile I stopped smiling in photos for a very long time. In more recent years I have started to try to smile in photos but it’s still difficult for me to look at the photos. It’s one of those things where I’m trying to actively fight that feeling but I feel teary eyed even as I write this.

I wish the “fun” memories stopped there but they don’t. The dentist from my teens, think age 13-19, was a jerk. I guess I will call him Dr. J for short. (Now I’m thinking of Harley Quinn and “Mr. J”). This dentist is the source of most of the bad dental experiences. In my “success story” I mentioned that I didn’t trust Dr. J and his behavior matched what a lot of people would probably describe as an “old-school” dentist (feeling like the dentist is hiding/not talking to you). The original post left out a lot of detail so I will try to summarize.

  • The probe: Don’t think I’ve mentioned it on these forums but I am afraid of the cavity check during exams. Having painful or uncomfortable experiences with this for 6 years makes it so that I still tense when I think about it.
  • Disconnected: Where as the dentist I saw in my childhood explained things, Dr. J did not. I feel like I remember most of my appointments being in silence. Not much chatter from the dentist or staff so I felt disconnected from what was going on around me or like they didn’t want to bother talking to me about my teeth. (Example: not knowing I needed a filling until I got to the front desk after a check-up and the receptionist asked my mom when they could schedule the next appointment.)
  • Freezing: Pretty sure my habit of freezing up at appointments started during this time as a way to “cope” with what was going on. I didn’t fully understand what I was feeling or experiencing as a teenager. It wasn’t until later appointments as an adult that I was better able to grasp what was happening.
There is one specific memory of having a filling with Dr. J that does a good job covering the things wrong with this practice. To give an idea of the setting, this was one of those dental offices in America where there is little separation between each dental chair, basically a set of cabinets on each side. (With the things I now know about HIPAA, I don’t understand how dentists can get away with this set up.) Why does this matter? During the appointment the person sitting next door started to talk with Dr. J while Dr. J was working on my filling. The chatterbox neighbor asked the dentist what he was working on, and Dr. J mentioned he was doing a filling. This prompted the chatterbox to go on about how well they take care of their teeth, that they hadn’t a cavity in a long time, they didn’t understand why other people didn’t care for their teeth, etc. I was being shamed by someone sight unseen with the dentist just going along with it.

In addition to that, I remember my jaw feeling very sore during that appointment and having difficulty keeping my mouth open. Dr. J asked if I wanted a “bite-block”. Now, understand I didn’t know what this term meant at the time so of course I nodded no. Dr. J’s attitude was basically well that’s your loss and he continued on. It wasn’t until much later that I learned what this term actually meant (more on that later).

I’ve said enough about Dr. J so I’ll leave it there and go over one other fear of mine. I have anxiety about needles. Its not dental specific, but I definitely freeze up when injections are happening (this is another thing that I will explain later since it links to other later memories). Keeping my eyes closed and being talked through the process helps quite a bit but its still a challenge.

TLDR: I have anxieties about needles, the probe and shaming. This causes me to freeze up at appointments. I’m looking into changing dentists so this has stirred up some bad old memories that I haven’t really addressed properly.

Feel like I have written enough to get this started…next time I’ll recount things related to that visit from 2013 because my original post was really vague.
 
krlovesherkids777

krlovesherkids777

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Glad you are doing a journal Sol! really hope you can find a good kind dentist. You are such a strong encouraging part of this community!
 
F

frostgirl

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I hope you can find a good and kind dentist, Sol! Keep us posted!
 
Thereallgone

Thereallgone

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Jul 18, 2019
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5
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California
Sorry, I couldn’t think of a clever title.;)

Starting this journal to help process my thoughts and hopefully leave some of the anxiety behind in these words. I’m looking into changing dentists and it has really stirred up my nerves. Caught myself being more forgetful this week, zoning out at work and not sleeping as well.

Hopefully recounting my experiences will remind me of the good experiences and the things I’ve learned so far. I remember the last time I wrote something like this I felt a lot of relief so maybe I can repeat that.

Backstory

http://www.dentalfearcentral.org/forum/showthread.php?22762-Thank-You-For-This-Site

If you want to start from the beginning check the link above. This old post from the success story forum recounts my childhood experiences and first visit in 2013 after avoiding going to a dentist for 8 years. After rereading this post, it’s a fairly good summary but I now realize there are a few things that were left out or that I understood better in retrospect. I basically plan on catching up from that post to where I am now. (It will probably be awhile until I catch up to present time.)

The source of the phobia in the last post was listed as unknown, still don’t know what experience caused it exactly, but fairly certain now it was passed on to me by my parents. My father is a redhead and has the issue with getting properly numb. (Thankfully he didn’t pass that gene on.) He has never talked to me about past experiences but I can only imagine the difficulty he had with getting treatment. My mother on the other hand, will gladly share her stories about bad experiences with dentists. In her case its almost like those fears have now morphed her opinion. She can’t understand why anyone nowadays is afraid because the experience is better compared to when she was younger. Guessing this combo is what lead to my fears and why my parents weren’t more proactive in making me go to the dentist until I was ten years old.

The prior post also left out some other memories from childhood and additional bad experiences. I wasn’t ready to share those stories then. However, I’m coming more to the conclusion that I won’t be able to improve from where I currently am if I can’t acknowledge these old memories and how they impact my anxieties.

Two memories from childhood that are similar are from when I was in the first and second grade. The details are fuzzy, I’m not sure if this dentist was the father of a kid in class or if he was just doing this as a public service, but he came once a year to speak to the class about hygiene. Remember wanting to sit as far away as possible and hoped that I was invisible among the other students. I guess this was awkward because unlike the other kids I didn't have prior experiences with dental appointments. In my mind, I also needed to keep my mouth shut. I was terrified the dentist would see my teeth and comment on them. I know that is completely irrational but it shows how deep rooted the embarrassment fear is and how self-conscious I felt about my teeth even at a young age.

Skipping ahead a bit with this next memory but it follows in suit with feeling embarrassed/self-conscious about my teeth. From age 12-15 I had braces. Didn’t really enjoy the experience but the last appointment with the orthodontist office is what really wrecked any confidence in my smile. The prior appointment, the braces were taken off so they did molds for a retainer and took a photo of me smiling with the orthodontist to add to their wall of patient photos. During the following appointment to pick up the retainers, I could hear the nurses talking in the hall. They were laughing at the photo of me smiling. “Can you believe its that girl over there?” Obliviously, I was mortified and wondered what was the point of me having braces in the first place. I did see the photo later; my big toothy grin wasn’t flattering in the photo. The experience made me so self-conscious of my smile I stopped smiling in photos for a very long time. In more recent years I have started to try to smile in photos but it’s still difficult for me to look at the photos. It’s one of those things where I’m trying to actively fight that feeling but I feel teary eyed even as I write this.

I wish the “fun” memories stopped there but they don’t. The dentist from my teens, think age 13-19, was a jerk. I guess I will call him Dr. J for short. (Now I’m thinking of Harley Quinn and “Mr. J”). This dentist is the source of most of the bad dental experiences. In my “success story” I mentioned that I didn’t trust Dr. J and his behavior matched what a lot of people would probably describe as an “old-school” dentist (feeling like the dentist is hiding/not talking to you). The original post left out a lot of detail so I will try to summarize.

  • The probe: Don’t think I’ve mentioned it on these forums but I am afraid of the cavity check during exams. Having painful or uncomfortable experiences with this for 6 years makes it so that I still tense when I think about it.
  • Disconnected: Where as the dentist I saw in my childhood explained things, Dr. J did not. I feel like I remember most of my appointments being in silence. Not much chatter from the dentist or staff so I felt disconnected from what was going on around me or like they didn’t want to bother talking to me about my teeth. (Example: not knowing I needed a filling until I got to the front desk after a check-up and the receptionist asked my mom when they could schedule the next appointment.)
  • Freezing: Pretty sure my habit of freezing up at appointments started during this time as a way to “cope” with what was going on. I didn’t fully understand what I was feeling or experiencing as a teenager. It wasn’t until later appointments as an adult that I was better able to grasp what was happening.
There is one specific memory of having a filling with Dr. J that does a good job covering the things wrong with this practice. To give an idea of the setting, this was one of those dental offices in America where there is little separation between each dental chair, basically a set of cabinets on each side. (With the things I now know about HIPAA, I don’t understand how dentists can get away with this set up.) Why does this matter? During the appointment the person sitting next door started to talk with Dr. J while Dr. J was working on my filling. The chatterbox neighbor asked the dentist what he was working on, and Dr. J mentioned he was doing a filling. This prompted the chatterbox to go on about how well they take care of their teeth, that they hadn’t a cavity in a long time, they didn’t understand why other people didn’t care for their teeth, etc. I was being shamed by someone sight unseen with the dentist just going along with it.

In addition to that, I remember my jaw feeling very sore during that appointment and having difficulty keeping my mouth open. Dr. J asked if I wanted a “bite-block”. Now, understand I didn’t know what this term meant at the time so of course I nodded no. Dr. J’s attitude was basically well that’s your loss and he continued on. It wasn’t until much later that I learned what this term actually meant (more on that later).

I’ve said enough about Dr. J so I’ll leave it there and go over one other fear of mine. I have anxiety about needles. Its not dental specific, but I definitely freeze up when injections are happening (this is another thing that I will explain later since it links to other later memories). Keeping my eyes closed and being talked through the process helps quite a bit but its still a challenge.

TLDR: I have anxieties about needles, the probe and shaming. This causes me to freeze up at appointments. I’m looking into changing dentists so this has stirred up some bad old memories that I haven’t really addressed properly.

Feel like I have written enough to get this started…next time I’ll recount things related to that visit from 2013 because my original post was really vague.
wow
 
Dg6300

Dg6300

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638
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Thank you for sharing.

Very interesting. I’ll look forward to more.

Also, for all their sanctimoniousness, health professionals who know HIPPA the best are the most eager to violate it!
 
kitkat

kitkat

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I very much enjoyed reading your post. I can connect with so much of what you said regarding the disconnect with your dentist (mine was my childhood dentists-there were a few). That changed for the better when I got a new dentist in my teen years who informed me of everything and gave me the sense of control that I so desperately needed. She acknowledged me as a person and not just a set of teeth (which was a first). Prior to that it was silence or the staff working on my teeth and having their own conversations as if I wasn’t really there. It’s interesting because now that I think about it, my dentist has lots of conversations with her assistant while she is working on my teeth but it’s different and I can sense she’s doing it to distract me so it doesn’t bother me. The intention is clearly different and expressed through her mannerisms and demeanor. Somehow, I feel included in the conversation even though I am not really actively participating.
 
Sol

Sol

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Joined
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Messages
264
Location
USA
The First Steps

Sometime in 2010 is when I actually started seriously trying to understand my fears. Basing this date on the date that it shows I registered on the forums. Prior to that year I wasn’t taking very good care of myself and was dealing with depression on and off. Something kind of came out of the blue and pushed me into wanting to do this. I was watching TV and a commercial came on for toothpaste. I felt panic/anger for a moment and hurriedly changed the channel. It was in that moment that I realized how much this was really bothering me and decided “I don’t want this”. I don’t want to be like this. I don’t want to end up messing up my teeth. I don’t want to be in a position where I “have” to go because of pain or something similar. (I suppose the last thought there is unusual? I remember when I went to the dental office for the first time. All of the staff I talked to that day asked if I was pain when I mentioned how long it had been since my last appointment.)

What was the next logical thing to do? Google things of course! Obviously, I found this site and some other helpful sources by doing that but also found things that feed my fears. Would really caution folks about using search engines to look up things about dental phobia or diseases. Google will bring back too much information and most of it won’t be relevant. I remember seeing a joke once about the WebMD website’s diagnosis tool. “I asked WebMD about pain in my elbow, it says I have elbow cancer.”

Reading the summaries about types of dental fears on this website was probably one of the more helpful things when I first started. I knew I was afraid to go to the dentist but I had never really sat down to analyze why. The journals and support forums also had gems of wisdom. The one that stuck with me the most was “You have had bad prior appointments before. You already know what feels wrong. You shouldn’t expect to have the same experience again but, if you do, its your prerogative to stop and leave.”

I guess I’ll mention that watching some videos was helpful but again would advise caution. I don’t remember the name of the channel on YouTube but there was a channel where a dentist, who also taught part time, recorded procedures. The videos were meant for medical students but because I felt like I was in the dark about a lot of things it was informative.

What did I do with the new found knowledge? Sat on it but continued to lurk around here on and off when I thought about the anxiety. At the time I was going back and forth with jobs or being unemployed so I didn’t have the means to seek treatment without going into debt. It wasn’t until 2013 when I had a steady job, dental insurance and some funds saved that I knew this was no longer an excuse. Everything else I mentioned, combined with a recommendation for a dentist from a friend, moved me to set up an appointment.

The “First” Appointment

Finally to this part…almost caught up to where I left off with my “success story”. When it comes to working on this stuff I find it helpful to pick a date to do something and stick to that date. I don’t know why I picked a date so far out but it was about 3 months in the future. This is when I started making some mistakes with how to handle making the first appointment. I had read a lot of advice on how to do this but I didn’t follow all of it.

On the scheduled date I made the phone call. The receptionist was nice but I failed to mention I was nervous about all this. They scheduled me a morning appointment a few weeks out. Something that I didn’t realize at the time was they had scheduled the new patient and cleaning appointment on the same day. In a way I’m glad this happened to just get it all over with but now realize it would have been better to do things one at a time to be able to take more time to develop a relationship with the dentist. Something else I realized after the fact was that they had double booked my appointment. I can understand why doctor’s offices do this (basically booking two appointments at the same time in case someone doesn’t show) but that also made things more difficult. To be fair, the office did try to call me a couple times to rebook but each time I missed their call and they had already filled the slot when I called back.

The week prior to the appointment was probably the worst in terms of anxiety. During the day when I had downtime at work I would start worrying about it, at night I had stress nightmares. My fears were based on the things listed above but add to that imagining all the possible things that “could be” wrong. Based on the posts of other people here, I have to think this is one of the harder things to deal with. You are going to see a dentist that you haven’t meet/developed a rapport with, you probably had some symptoms/questions and Dr. Google has told you it could be some horrible problem. In my case I was worried about periodontal disease and maybe being told that one really decayed tooth would need to be extracted.

The appointment was at 8 am, when the office opened. I arrived with the new patient forms filled out. (If the office offers an option to print or submit the forms electronically prior to the appointment I would highly recommend doing this.) I remember opening the door, walking in a few steps and freezing. I’m not sure if this is the first time I’ve felt the “fight or flight” response, but it’s the most clear memory I have of that feeling. It felt like my stomach sank and the idea went across my mind to turn around and leave. Thankfully, one of the ladies behind the front desk saw me and came over to take the paperwork and show me to the waiting area. I was surprised the waiting room was full of people (this is how I figured out I was double booked). I found a seat and began the wait. This was not fun because I could feel my palms sweating/trembling. I ended up waiting about 40 minutes to be called back.

The assistant was nice and guided me through getting x-rays. She really helped calm my initial nerves. After the x-rays were completed she started to tell me about them. It was in a non-judgmental way and one of the things she said, without me even asking, was that it looked like there was no bone loss, so no periodontal disease. We also talked a little bit about me having a fifth wisdom tooth while I was sitting in the chair. This is one of those things where I knew I should have the impacted wisdom teeth removed long ago, but I honestly don’t remember if anyone told me that I had five of them.

The dentist then showed up and introduced himself. Felt the nerves come back a bit but was able to get through going over the medical/dental questionnaire. There was another mistake made here and completely my own fault. The questionnaire had a question that asked something like “do you feel nervous about dental treatment? Y/N”. I marked this as no. At the time, I didn’t think that I could talk about my fears at all. I imagined that I would either get super emotional or get so frozen that I couldn’t continue with the appointment if I said anything. I was able to write on the bottom of the form that I was embarrassed about not having been to the dentist in awhile but this was a very dumb mistake on my part. Toughing it out is not the answer, but it’s what I did.

After the questionnaire the dentist talked a little more about himself, where he went to school, things like that, and asked if I had questions. It didn’t occur to me prior to the appointment to give this sort of thing any thought so I couldn’t think of anything to ask. Then the part I was fearing most started, the exam. I remember lying there with my eyes shut and feeling the anxiety. There were a couple things that the dentist said that helped me calm down a bit. I’m sure this is part of his script but it was still effective. He told me that there would be “no pain” during the exam, that he told that to all his new patients. Hearing that helped capped my anxiety from going any higher. Later while he was looking around, the dentist said I had “beautiful teeth”. If I could have, I probably would have done a double take. I wasn’t sure if I heard that right. My teeth weren’t in great shape, in my mind, and being told my teeth were “beautiful” ran counter to how I felt about my teeth. When the cavity check part was coming up, I remember thinking “please be gentle”. Thankfully, that part was painless and I was able to relax a little more.

Part of the exam also included having photos of my teeth taken. This was new to me. When they were taking photos of the individual teeth and my bite it was fairly easy. But of course, they wanted a photo of my smile. At that point I was sitting back upright in the chair. The dentist was holding a camera and asked me to smile. I suddenly felt super awkward and just did a small smile. The dentist asked for a big smile and that felt hard. I did it but really didn’t like looking at photo during the next appointment.

After all that the dentist summed things up by saying things over all looked good. There were a couple of things that would need to be addressed and we would talk about it more at follow up appointment. I’m glad they had things set up this way because it probably would have been too much to go over all at once and I would have forgotten things. All that was left to do was have the cleaning. I don’t remember this part being super eventful, cleanings are a bit easier to tolerate, but it was nice to feel my clean teeth afterwards. I remember getting into my car after the appointment and feeling so relieved that I had gone through with it and that it felt like things had been fairly smooth/easy.

Next chapter…going over results and the following appointments.

Not sure when I will have time to write something this lengthy again so just a note about where I currently am with looking for a new dentist. Last Wednesday I emailed a couple practices to ask if they work with anxious patients. One called back and left a message to contact them so I plan on calling them Monday.

The intention is clearly different and expressed through her mannerisms and demeanor. Somehow, I feel included in the conversation even though I am not really actively participating.
Hey Kitkat, I remember seeing you around when I posted my original success story. It's nice to see a familiar face from back then. I completely agree with you, the intent is very noticeable and can completely change how those conversations come across.
 
kitkat

kitkat

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I remember you too, Sol. I have been off and on the forum for the past 13 years. I am in a pretty good place with dental things at this point but have decided to stick around to support others. Reading other posts still sometimes makes me think about things that I had not considered before.

Yes, the types of fears section is also what initially drew me to this page as I also had never tried to analyze my fears. It’s strange, when you have dental fear your whole life, you sort of just accept it after awhile and I don’t think I ever really gave the feeling a name. It wasn’t until my dentist said things like “don’t be frightened” that it actually registered in my brain as “oh! this is fear that I’m feeling.” I was also very embarrassed about feeling scared and wanted to hide it and I think I maybe even didn’t want to admit it to myself. I think it takes a lot to admit your fears and it is not uncommon that people try to “brave face” it. I think that dentists are probably used to that and get pretty good at spotting it and are ready to address fears as they come up. There are many red flags of fear (lack of eye contact, posture, tone of voice, trembling/shaking, long absences in treatment, etc.). They are also sensitive to the fact that many people have some degree of anxiety about seeing them (even non-phobic people) of course it would make things much easier on everyone involved if we would just be upfront about it rather than making them guess.

It sounds like you are making good strides for finding a new dentist. I think it’s great that you are reflecting on what has worked and what hasn’t to set yourself up for success with the next endeavor.
 
Sol

Sol

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I was also very embarrassed about feeling scared and wanted to hide it and I think I maybe even didn’t want to admit it to myself. I think it takes a lot to admit your fears and it is not uncommon that people try to “brave face” it.
This is 100% me. I remember when I first started reading about fears on this site and finding an article that talked about the difference between anxiety and phobia. I figured I just had a little anxiety because my reactions were not as extreme as some of the stories I read here. However, if I rated how scared I felt at that first appointment I would have ranked it high as a 8 or 9 on a scale of 10. Things are better now and I would say I'm normally around a 4 or 5 now (higher or lower depending on the day).
 
kitkat

kitkat

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This is 100% me. I remember when I first started reading about fears on this site and finding an article that talked about the difference between anxiety and phobia. I figured I just had a little anxiety because my reactions were not as extreme as some of the stories I read here. However, if I rated how scared I felt at that first appointment I would have ranked it high as a 8 or 9 on a scale of 10. Things are better now and I would say I'm normally around a 4 or 5 now (higher or lower depending on the day).
Same to everything you said. That’s an interesting point that you make about not having the extreme reactions. However, you also mentioned that you tend to “freeze” as I do which would inhibit that from happening. So that just goes to show that the intensity of the reaction does not necessarily correlate with the level of fear in fact, it could be the exact opposite.
 
Sol

Sol

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Breaking things up here to talk about today. I called a dental office to ask about setting up an appointment but now I feel very conflicted. I'm sure I would feel some uncertainty no matter where I called but this didn't feel right.

The voice message left last week said to call back and they would go over what they offered for anxious patients. When I called I mentioned I had contacted them last week about setting up a new patient appointment. The receptionist started taking down my information and asked if I had any concerns. I blurted out that I was anxious about this stuff. She just kinda said okay but no pain or anything. Then she started saying first appointment would be xrays, cleaning, meeting the dentist, etc. Me being me I said yes, even though I've said before that I dont want to jump into things head long anymore. After that they basically just confirmed they would verify with insurance that things would be covered and if the dentist found cavities or anything they could be addressed at future appointments. The last part doesn't sound right to me. I know some people want everything done during one appointment, I have a friend like this, but it just felt odd.

I know I've read stories on this site about having just a meet and greet with a new dentist. It feels like it's really unusual to see any local places around me that offer that kind of service. The way most places advertise is that you will have a 90 min to 2 hour appointment to start with which basically includes everything I mentioned above. I feel like I need to start slower and that this place is maybe not what I was looking for.
 
krlovesherkids777

krlovesherkids777

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Wow.. sounds like they are skipping right over your anxiety and not really listening to your needs and thoughts. Sounds like minimizing the impact of anxiety too? Those are the takes I would get.. there should be places that will offer a free meet and greet .. I've actually had about 8 offer I only took up 3 on the offer because I ended up evenutally found my old dentist.

I believe that you should find a place that will go at your pace that you need and be concerned for your needs ahead of any of their own agendas..The first place I wwent to was a lovely gal who didn't even ever talk about herself, she wanted to know what I was looking for , my experience and how they could best help me then asked if I had questions. I could hardly believe she was not promoing her own agenda in the least... This is what I really believe for you Sol!! Don't settle until you feel comfortable! You deserve the best!
 
kitkat

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It seems like the standard for most places around me is to jump right into cleaning, xrays, and exam all during the first appointment unless you specifically request otherwise. It’s hard to tell if the receptionist was dismissive of your needs or just clueless. Either way, maybe not the right place to proceed. Was there anything specific about this practice that attracted you initially or was it just a stab in the dark? Was it recommended by someone or did they have good patient reviews? Do they have a positive reputation for dealing with anxious patients?
 
Enarete

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I blurted out that I was anxious about this stuff. She just kinda said okay but no pain or anything.
This sounds like 'the only thing that counts is your physical pain, we don't care about your anxiety.' I second every word krlovesherkids said. Do not make yourself fit into their protocols, keep on going and find someone who is flexible enough to meet YOUR needs.
It is reasonable for a dentist to wish to at least have a look in your mouth and / or to do some x-rays and not be too happy about pure meet and greet, but if they are compassionate, they won't claim this to be the way the first visit goes but more leave it as an option if you feel up to.
A dental cleaning can be really challenging for someone with severe dental anxiety and so can be meeting of too many people at once so any place with a receptionist telling you on the phone that this all will happen is not right.

Again, I can only encourage you to listen to your gut feeling about this. Sure, you would be scared even if it was a nice practice, but in my experience that anxiety is a different one that one mixed with sense of 'this is not right'. Btw. this wasn't about a sense, the receptionist obviously ignored your remark about anxiety.
 
Sol

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Thank you for your supportive replies. I had to remind myself this afternoon that I'm not in a rush to do this and its probably better to think of this like practice for contacting places in the future.

If I had to guess, the receptionist was mainly following a script and the question about "concerns" was a disguised question about the pain factor so to determine the priority of the appointment. She clearly heard me because she followed by saying something like "Since you have anxiety it would be best to set you up for a new patient appointment which involves...". I've worked in call centers, some people are better at handling the empathy or off the cuff things. Other people will ignore it or stick to the scripted answer.

@krlovesherkids777 - I honestly don't know how many websites I've looked at so far, there seem to be quite a few dental offices with in a reasonable distance, but I only saw one that advertised a complementary introduction visit. I decided against this place because the practice was recently bought out by a new dentist so all the reviews I could find were for the prior dentist. I guess I need to look more. I've tried asking friends, called the oral surgeon's office that I saw in the past to ask for names but no luck. I'm kinda stuck using social media/websites to look.

@kitkat - The main things about this place were that it had high ratings on sites like Google and Yelp, I think something like 50, 5 star reviews on one site. A few of the reviews with comments had people saying they had anxiety and they felt at ease, etc. but I suppose I should have known that everyone has a slightly different idea about what "anxiety" means. I initially wrote this place off because they are in my insurance network and participate in other insurance plan networks. That sounds backwards but it seems like the chances of running into bad apples increases dramatically if they are willing to accept less for payment. I have a PPO plan so the network thing doesn't matter I just figured I was being over sensitive about it.

@Enarete - Letting them do xrays and asking to have a look around is OK with me. (I mean as long as I trust them of course, lol.) Unfortunately, its just that a lot of places here try to direct people to have the exam/xrays/cleanings done all at once which is annoying. I'm sure some people are fine with doing it that way, if they have insurance it probably wont cost the patient anything or very little. I just want to find a place where at the initial appointment I feel like I will have time to talk a bit and not end up being rushed through everything because of the way it was scheduled.
 
Sol

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The best-laid plans...
There are a couple past experiences I still want to write about (my first consult with an oral surgeon a few years ago was "interesting") but figure maybe i'll save the memory things for later.

Cancelled the appointment this afternoon so that's done with. I knew this would be a process but its still a bit annoying since it feels like I've done my homework over the last couple weeks.

•Asked a couple friends for recommendations. One said their dentist had retired and they weren't actively looking for a new one. Another friend (who I thought liked their dentist) shared a story about a bad recent experience so that wasn't helpful.

•Tried calling the oral surgeon's office to ask if they could suggest general dentists. The receptionist said "If you have insurance shouldn't you just go to ones that take your plan?" I have a PPO that isn't a big concern to me. I tried asking her again but she just repeated herself.

•Looked at a lot of places online to the point where it was kinda overwhelming. So many places have ratings of 4.5-5 stars that its not always easy to narrow down places by review scores or websites. Just want to share this one story cause its both funny and kinda jaw dropping. This one dentist had posted a review of himself on his Google listing. "The only patients that don't like me are the ones that don't take care of their teeth or can't pay!" At least he left a giant warning sign on his own review page to stay away.

There was one other dentist I contacted but there was no reply from using the contact form on their website. I want to try to contact them again, they have an email address listed on their Facebook page or maybe send a Facebook message (they don't post very often though). In the past, I've mentioned volunteering at a free clinic a couple years ago. This dentist has a photo on their Facebook page of the dentist and their staff volunteering at that event. Its a small thing but I would hope it shows they have good character/compassion. I'll try again next week to give myself a chance to take a breather.
 
kitkat

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Well your issue with not being able to find a new dentist is certainly not for lack of trying! I’m exhausted just reading that! Yes it may be a good idea to take a break and clear your mind. Did you check the dentist listings for your area under recommendations on the DFC forum?
 
krlovesherkids777

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Sol,

Wow. I agree with Kitkat , you have certainly been trying diligently! I really believe you will find the right fit. You deserve it.. not sure why dental offices are so bad at replying to emails..I found that too, thats why I tried to find fb pages that did post recently and try them which seemed to work. Not everyone answered. but a I did get some :). Thats a good idea about checking the list of volunteer dentists .. I volunteered at a dental event as a patient ambassador and there were some really caring dentists and staff there.
 
Sol

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I wish it were that easy kitkat! There is only one recommendation in my state on the forums and they are on the other side of the state.

I can kinda understand why they may not always see emails or take the time to respond. Was hoping to luck out because the website also had a way to submit new patient forms digitally. Thought maybe they went to the same inbox, wishful thinking.
 
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