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Sol's Journal

Sol

Sol

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I decided to wait until Monday to try emailing places. Figured I’d give myself a break this week. Started writing this post awhile ago then paused when all that other stuff happened so this will be a long “from memory” post.


The Follow Up Appointments

The next appointment was about two weeks later. I remember feeling less stressed in the waiting room but still a bit nervous since I wasn’t entirely sure what treatments would be recommended. The wait was also much shorter, 5-10 minutes. The office manager showed to me to a smaller side office, just a desk and PC in the room. On the desk was a folder with my name.

Ended up waiting a few minutes for the dentist to arrive. When he came in and sat down, he asked if I had looked through the folder. Nope, I felt too nervous to open it. The dentist ended up opening the folder and we went through the pages together. They also had my file on the PC so they could show me some additional photos/xrays not in the report. I don’t think I’ve ever received this detail about a diagnosis for anything. The folder contained a written summary from the dentist, printouts of the photos for the teeth that needed work, a printout of the panoramic xray, and some one-page articles that talked about what to expect in general for the different procedures. (These articles kind of reminded me of pages on this site that give overviews of common procedures.)

I wasn’t super familiar with the numbering system used for teeth so it took a moment for me to start following along with the dentist’s notes. There were a couple photos that were a tad cringey for me (the photos were taken before the cleaning so the calculus buildup was rather large in some areas). Otherwise, this part wasn’t bad and I felt good about the recommendations.

You are probably saying what was the treatment plan already?!? I needed to have 4 fillings in some molars (one in each quadrant). If I remember right these teeth already had composite fillings so it was touching up the edges where there was decay. The molar that turned gray from decay ended up needing a crown. (This was the tooth Dr. J ignored during my last appointment there.) Since this molar was asymptomatic the dentist said I didn’t need an RTC. Lastly, I would be referred to an oral surgeon to have my wisdom teeth out. I was encouraged to have all 5 out even though one was only partly erupted. The impacted teeth were creating deep pockets in my gums around the back molars which could lead to future issues (decay, infection, etc.).

After going over all that the dentist said his good byes and I spent some time with the office manager to go over how to space the appointments out (to get the most benefit from insurance) and pricing. Since the crown was a concern, I would get the crown and the two fillings on the right side done first. The other two fillings would be left to another appointment 4 months in the future when my insurance benefits were renewed for the new year. The wisdom teeth stuff would also wait until next year. Honestly, this is not as bad as I was expecting. I could tell I had cavities prior to the appointment, I could keep the tooth that I thought would have to be removed…and the wisdom teeth could wait a bit longer.

Getting the Crown

A couple weeks later I was back for the crown and fillings. This office offers same day crowns so this made for a long appointment but at least I didn’t have to do this in two appointments. Just going to try to go over highlights of unique things I remember.

While sitting with the assistant prior to starting, I was able to tell the assistant that I dislike needles and was feeling nervous (I’m one of those people that has an easier time talking to the assistants/hygienists/etc.) She tried to reassure me that the dentist was skilled and not to worry too much. (Yeah, that didn’t help lol.) Anyway, the dentist showed up and tried to make a bit of small talk before laying me back. Felt tense laying there. The assistant said something to the dentist I think about me being nervous about needles and I had a knee jerk reaction to suddenly feel bad about being nervous. I shot the assistant an annoyed look. Wish I hadn’t but her comment caught me off guard. They continued on with getting set up, and I closed my eyes. Due to my reaction, they both got quiet. This led to feeling uneasy because I couldn’t hear them talking. I’m not sure how much time passed but I opened my eyes and got an eye full of big needle hovering over my face. Amazing. It was like my whole body flinched. (Think of spring just suddenly releasing all its stored energy.) The talking started again after that. I’m sure the dentist was trying to be gentle and going slowish but the first injections were not really comfortable. At least they waited for a couple minutes before giving me a couple more shots on the lower quadrant because that was where the tooth that needed to be crown was located.

Fast-forward to the part about having a dental dam placed and the bite block (you thought I would forget about the bite block story). The dentist asked the assistant for “the pillow” and I thought “What?” I opened my eyes and could see the green squishy plastic thing. This was placed on the side opposite of where they were working and I was told to bite on it, that it would give my jaw a rest. I felt a lot of relief at hearing that because I remember the difficulty of trying to keep my mouth open for those other appointments.

Having the dental dam placed was a new experience. I had read about it on this website but the dentists in my past experiences never used them. To me having a lot of cotton in my mouth for fillings was the norm. I wasn’t specifically worried about the dam but I was still tense from everything that happened prior. When the dentist was placing the dam around the bottom teeth there was a sudden popping sound. My teeth are packed pretty close together so the plastic dam was making a loud pop as they worked it between my teeth. There was no warning about this sound so, you guessed it, I flinched again. (Side note: During the second appointment to get fillings in the future this popping sound didn’t happen. I’m not sure if they used a dam made out of different material or if their technique improved in-between appointments.)

Going to fast-forward a bit more. After the tooth was prepped for the crown and a couple of the fillings were done there was a break while the dentist went to check on someone else. In the middle of this a new assistant showed up to cover for the other one. (This swap had been mentioned earlier in the appointment.) The assistant was slightly older than me and was reading through the notes, looking at my xray to get caught up. After she saw my xray she really surprised me by turning around and saying “It’s your first crown!” Her excitement confused me because I initially felt weird about needing a crown in my 20s. The assistant went on to say how excited she was for me and she behaved like this was a rite of passage. While we were waiting for the dentist to return, she also shared that she had her first crown in her early 20’s while she was still studying to be a dental assistant.

Other items in brief:

• Getting a CEREC crown and digital impressions was a good experience. I can see why people prefer the digital impressions, no gagging or goop. Having the permanent crown done in one appointment was also a nice bonus.

•There was a lot of downtime during this appointment but the waiting wasn’t bad. Besides the things I mentioned at the start it was a good experience.

•The crown ended up being a little high, I was too numb for them to check the bite at the appointment properly. This left the tooth feeling weird after meals. Of course, I worried at the time something was really wrong with the crown. Going back a week later to have it adjusted was easy and didn’t require numbing.

Feeling the Freeze

The next appointment to get the other two fillings was more or less uneventful except for one thing. One of the injections I had was extremely painful. It felt like my gums were burning. Never had an experience like this before. This is when I completely froze and realized that I could not signal that I was in pain. During the other appointments, there was no need to signal. Now that I needed to, I couldn’t lift my arms or hands. It was a really overwhelming feeling. My eyes started watering and I tried to keep back the tears. There were parts where I remember being asked if I was OK during and after the shot but I was just stuck nodding yes. Guessing because of the last appointment the dentist and the assistant just thought I was dealing with nerves related to the shot.

Felt like an idiot after the appointment and was really mad at myself for not being able to say anything. Feelings and memories from my teenage years started to make more sense, however. This was how I had coped through those bad appointments was by freezing over and toughing things out. After appointments this dentist usually does courtesy calls later in the day to ask how you are doing. There have been studies that show this helps with lowering patient’s pain and gives the impression the dentist is compassionate. I missed that call and wished I hadn’t. Maybe then I would have been able to talk about what happened during the appointment with him.

The wisdom teeth story will get its own post later. Things will be more or less up to date after that.
 
Sol

Sol

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No Confidence Consult

Leaving the dental office after the last appointment, the receptionist asked if she could schedule the appointment for me with the oral surgeon. I said no, that I could handle it later but she (nicely) insisted. The surgeon’s office would only take consultation appointments between 1pm-3pm which seemed odd but I agreed to a 1 pm appointment about a month in the future. (Supposedly, this rule was to save all of the morning time slots to people that were fasting prior to surgery.)

When it came time for the appointment, I felt fairly good about things because of the prior discussion with my dentist about doing this. Things started to slowly fall apart though as this appointment went on. Initially, the receptionist there said she had my xray but that they were having issues with opening the file so they would need to take another one. That wasn’t great but OK. My appointment was at 1 pm and was told to arrive 15 minutes early. The waiting room was empty when I got there. Ended up waiting until 1:35 pm to be called back by someone and in that time the whole waiting room had filled up with people that were on standby to try to be seen the same day (I assume for extractions).

After I was taken back by the assistant, I was shown a video clip that looked like it was created in the 90s that talked about wisdom teeth removal. It was rather boring since it basically talked about the general things my dentist had already covered with me but this video seems to be standard procedure. The assistant returned and started asking questions about my medical history while she filled out a form. There was a question about current medications. I told her that I was not taking anything currently. The assistant became very excited and said that was great. (Note: I’ve worked with prescription drug insurance before so I know how overwhelming it can be to work with people who have something like 20 medications.) I asked the assistant if it was unusual to have someone who was not taking any medications. She said no but that she was happy I didn’t have any because the surgeon would yell at her if she took awhile to take down their information. While she was being honest, this is probably not something she should be sharing with patients. Later I asked her about how busy the waiting area seemed to be. The assistant told me that they were usually even busier and it was like they needed wings to keep up. Again, this didn’t give me a lot of confidence and I could imagine the surgeon yelling at her if he had over heard this conversation.

The receptionist came in the room and said she had gotten my xray to open but it still took her about 5 minutes to get it to work on the PC in the exam room. While this was happening, the surgeon came in the room to say hello. What I remember from that point on is the surgeon talking to me with his back turned while he looked at the xray. Due to the issues they were having with the xray I assume he didn’t have a chance to look at it prior. The lack of eye contact made it feel like he was talking more to the xray than me for the majority of the appointment. The surgeon also took a quick look in my mouth but didn’t really say (or do) much during the exam.

His recommendation was to leave 3 of the 5 wisdom teeth alone (the 2 upper ones had roots in my sinus, one of the lower ones had a root touching a nerve). I would only need surgery on the lower left side which was both kind of a relief and a little strange feeling because I had been encouraged by my dentist to have them all removed at once. It was also mentioned that the surgery should be quick and only take about 20 minutes. The surgeon recommending using IV sedation to make things easier for me. After that the assistant lead me back to the front desk where the receptionist wanted to schedule the surgery. The time they suggested was something like 10:36 am in the morning in a few weeks to squeeze my “quick” surgery in.

Leaving the office, I felt considerably uneasy. Remember clearly thinking I would have to be a fool to come back for the surgery. My first impression of this place was they were in a hurry to shuffle through patients, the assistant, while nice, had undermined my confidence and the surgeon brought out the “disconnected” feelings.

Second Attempt

I called my dentist’s office the following week to ask for referral to another surgeon. This led to another wait of about a month for a consultation but at least they didn’t have restrictions on when the appointment could be scheduled. In general, the office had a more relaxed feel and the waiting room wasn’t filled like last time.

The assistant showed me back after a few minutes. Had to watch that dated 90s video again before speaking with the surgeon. How this was handled was also different than the other appointment. I spent the majority of the appointment talking one on one with the surgeon. He also did a much more comprehensive exam of my jaw. His recommendation ended up being the same as the other surgeon but he said to expect the appointment to take about 40 minutes, double what had been mentioned before. The surgeon took a moment while I was there to write an email to my dentist about the recommendation so they would have their own copy which was appreciated. There was no pressure to schedule the surgery when I left. I was surprised that the receptionist advised I call them back when I knew what my schedule would be like (this wasn’t actually an issue for me so I ended up just setting up a time that day). The surgery was set for about a month in the future.

Wisdom Tooth Surgery

The surgery was set for early in the morning, 8 am I believe, so the fasting prior to the appointment wasn’t bad. My mom was available that day so she ended up taking me to the appointment. This was a bit of mistake because she began to reminisce about her poor experience with having her wisdom teeth removed. This left me feeling slightly more nervous that I would have been otherwise. Prior to this day the only things that I had worried about were the IV set up and how I would feel after the appointment (nauseous or groggy from the anesthesia).

There wasn’t much time spent in the waiting room. Something that didn’t hit me until I was in the surgery room was that the assistant leading me and everyone else in the room were wearing solid black scrubs. This weirded me out for a moment, picture seeing 4 people in a room in full on black scrubs around you. The surgeon handed me a clipboard with some waivers to sign. Never has the saying “signing your life away” felt so applicable.

Next was having the IV set up. At the time I was telling myself that I was fine, just needed to look away and I could deal with this. When the assistant started to swab the area on my arm though I did my patented full body flinch. The surgeon was able to talk me through the process though and it wasn’t really as bad as I had been fearing. I’m glad they didn’t have the heart rate monitor hooked up at that point. Due to the adrenaline spike, it took a bit for the anesthesia to kick in. Eventually the surgeon said they were going to start laying the chair back. I thought to myself that I would just close my eyes while they laid me back but I must have relaxed enough at that moment for the anesthesia to kick in.

I remember nothing until after they were done with the surgery. Ended up waking up sitting up right so it felt like no time had passed. Something that I didn’t remember was having a light blanket covering me. The assistant that was in the room when I woke up mentioned that my fingers/hands had gotten so cold it had caused the heart rate monitor to give inaccurate readings. They must have needed to pause midway through to make sure I was OK and then provided the blanket. After that I was shown to a separate waiting area where my mom was sitting. The surgeon came in after a few minutes to go over after care instructions and we were done. Something that was really nice and I feel more people would benefit from was being given a take home kit for care. It had an index card with dos/don’ts and what to expect while healing. The kit also had some small ice packs to help with swelling and (since the extraction was on the bottom) a plastic syringe to help clean the area. An assistant held my arm as we walked out the door, I guess a precaution, but I didn’t feel any side effects from the anesthesia.

The healing process wasn’t bad. Like many people, the pain was the worst a few days after the surgery. I decided to take about 5 days off after the surgery and I think it really helped with the recovery. I had a follow up appointment a week later and was told things looked good. It took about 6 weeks to feel like I didn’t need to watch the surgery site as much for cleaning. This was a good experience overall.

So now to tomorrow. I plan on sending out an email to 3 dental offices. Will see if I get a better response from this batch.
 
krlovesherkids777

krlovesherkids777

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So much scarier on that first consult. wow.. I may have used my "bathroom trick" on that one and escaped 1/2 way through. I think its amazing you got through it.. the 2nd place sounded way better. Glad everything went well for you on the surgery!! and I hope someone responds from this bunch soon !
 
Dg6300

Dg6300

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Thank you for sharing.

I can imagine your annoyance having to sit through that video a second time.
 
Sol

Sol

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Set up the emails to go out automatically while I was at work today so I wouldn't have to really think about it. Out of the three I received two responses. Krlovesherkids777, your post somewhere else about asking for the "how" they help nervous people in emails was helpful. Also borrowed somethings from the template on this site but that letter/email template implies a more urgent need for care.

Realized I didn't post what my email says earlier. To anyone, feel free to steal this and modify it to make it your own.
Hello,
I am looking to get established with a new dental practice for the long-term but I have some anxieties about dental treatment. The stress causes me to have a hard time communicating during appointments (either being completely compliant or freezing).
Are you accepting new patients and, if so, how do you help nervous patients cope?

Thank you for taking the time to read this,
The replies are below. The first one is from the practice I contacted through their web page form last week and got no response initially. The second one, I'm not sure why she felt the need to apologize, the email came the same morning the email was sent, but there you go.

Response 1:
We are accepting new patients and would love to have you as one. Dr. X and the rest of our team are very gentle and understanding of patients with dental anxieties. Please check out our website if you would like. We do offer nitrous oxide. There are other options as well for certain procedures. I assure you, we will do our best to help you overcome the anxieties that you have. If you would like to stop in and meet us first, please feel free to. Also, if you have any other questions or concerns, please call. We look forward to hearing from you.
Response 2:
I apologize for not getting back to you sooner. I am short handed this morning in the front office and it has been quite a busy Monday. Yes we are accepting new patients. I completely understand your anxiety and nervousness over dental appointments and treatment. I can tell you that we have many patient's that started out with anxiety, fear and dreading coming to the dentist. Over the course of time by getting to know us and Dr. X they realize we truly care about our patient's and treat them as we would the members of our own families. We diagnose and treat conservatively, and as far as the actual dental treatment itself, patient's have the option of light oral sedation such as Xanax or Nitrous Oxide if they feel they need a little extra to help them through the appointment.
Think I'll give things another look over later tonight and see about calling one place tomorrow. Fingers crossed that I don't leave the call with a bad impression like last time.
 
Dg6300

Dg6300

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Wonderful! Such a good job communicating your needs and interests.

We should all communicate so clearly and kindly.

I think you are well on your way to success.
 
krlovesherkids777

krlovesherkids777

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I too think you did a Marvelous job communicating very kindly and succintly. and got 2 really great answers back. Seems to have the sense they really do care and are genuine about it! Sounds like a great start! Realy great job!!
 
Sol

Sol

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So I contacted one of the practices yesterday by phone. The receptionist was nice although she seems a tad forgetful (had to ask me for information a couple times and called back after we hung up because she couldn't remember if she had given me their email :rolleyes:). I didn't really talk to her about my anxiety although she seemed to know my name from the email. She asked a lot of questions about my prior dental appointments, if I had xrays and such, for billing purposes and to see what would need to be done during my first appointment there. I honestly couldn't remember when some things had been done so I had to email her back later after looking up my old insurance claims. (Not entirely sure why she couldn't have just waited to get that information from my prior dentist either...)

The appointment is a month out in September so I will just have to keep busy til then. This place has electronic new patient forms so at least that part is out of the way. This afternoon the receptionist called back and left a message saying they could see me today, someone had cancelled. I didn't see the message until much later. Kinda glad I missed the call, don't think I could deal with all that today on short notice. :cool:
 
krlovesherkids777

krlovesherkids777

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Glad they called you back and she was pleasant , seems like she was trying to be thorough and get everything even if a bit out of sorts with asking stuff again. Glad you have an appointment , can't wait to hear how it goes. :). Its nice they at least tried to get you in sooner and reach out too.. :)
 
Sol

Sol

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Started worrying/thinking about this again so just going to try to write a bit. Already started having issues with sleep so this will be a fun month.

Why the change

•Can’t speak up at current practice and wasn’t honest about my fear in the first place. Tired of being in this loop. Things feel like they have slightly changed at the practice. Older dentist retired, they moved locations, office expanded, that sort of thing.

•Hygienist I’ve been seeing the last couple years has pushed me to want to change. She is defensive when I think to ask questions. She asked a couple years ago if she could book the next cleaning sooner, make it so that I would get 3 a year instead of 2. Asked her what had changed or why. The hygienist threw up her hands and said “Forget I asked”. Similar stuff happens with xrays and charting, she doesn’t tell me the results anymore because I asked questions. Feel like she is slightly passive aggressive. The last time I saw her she said something to the effect of “There are those big pockets” (some 5/6 cause of my impacted wisdom teeth). Gee thanks, I know they are there and wont just magically go away.

•Referral Shenanigans. About 3 years after my wisdom teeth surgery, during my annual check-up, my hygienist was really pushing me to be referred back to the oral surgeon. Asked her if anything was worse or changed. The hygienist said something like my impacted teeth had probably moved and should be evaluated again (the wisdom teeth haven’t moved since my early 20s, pretty sure I would notice if they had).

My dentist happened to not be there so the other one that works there did my exam. I hadn’t seen her before. This dentist also said I should be referred back. Her response to my question of why was “its just a good idea”. I relented and agreed to get a new panoramic xray. The hygienist actually looked disappointed that nothing had changed since the last xray. However, she told the receptionist to set up a referral for me. The receptionist wrote a quick note that I needed a referral to have “4 wisdom teeth removed” but at this time I only had 3 wisdom teeth. Let this go thinking it was just meant to a note to themselves and they would update it later when they called/emailed it over. I didn’t really feel motivated to follow up on this referral at all so ignored it.

The next time I had a cleaning the hygienist asked if I had my wisdom removed, made up some excuse about not calling. Again, she pushed me and told me to call the oral surgeon and follow up. When I called the surgeon’s office a week later, they located the prior referral. They said it looked like it was a mistake so they hadn’t followed up with me. The referral said I needed 4 teeth removed and the xray looked the same as the prior one. The receptionist said I should contact the dentist office again and have them redo the referral. If they couldn’t send the referral correctly or explain in the referral why I was being sent I didn’t see the point in trying again.

Next cleaning the hygienist again asked if I had my wisdom teeth removed. I told her the receptionist at the surgeon’s office was kind of short with me and told me the referral was wrong. The hygienist became quiet, guessing she saw the error on the referral, and said something like the surgeon’s office could have just called us for clarification. At this point I was hoping she would give up pursing this but no luck. This was annual check up time so my dentist stopped by to do the exam. Hygienist made it a point to talk about my wisdom teeth and the issue with the referral. The dentist agreed I should be referred back. Asked him why but I didn’t really get a clear answer. Just felt like he was repeating the possible things that could go wrong if things were left as they were but from my perspective nothing had changed in the last 4 years. The dentist said he would handle the referral this time so there wouldn’t be issues.

Honestly, I was planning to ignore the referral again but a couple days later the surgeon’s office called me. They had an appointment for a consultation the following Monday so I took it. Over the weekend, I psyched myself out a bit thinking that maybe I did need surgery and I was just being thick not understanding the referral. In the waiting room for the surgeon’s office I could hear him talking to another patient as they walked out. He was explaining to her that he didn’t recommend doing anything at this time and their dentist was being cautious, etc. Made me wonder how common something like this situation is.

When I saw the surgeon, he started off by saying he was on the fence about doing anything. The surgeon then proceeded to go over possible ways that one of my wisdom teeth could be removed. The other two he wouldn’t remove because of the complications that would be associated with them. It must have been my body language but part way through explaining the second option he stopped. The surgeon said in your case, I wouldn’t recommend doing anything. At this point I told him that my hygienist had been pushing me to see him for the last year and a half. It appeared like a light bulb went on for him. I’m not sure if the surgeon’s office was under the impression that I was pushing to do this. He said that hygienists are trained to be vigilant about these things but sometimes maybe they push it too far. It was a relief that I would not need surgery. The surgeon mentioned that I might get referred every 5 years or so but he was OK with that, even If things were fine. I’m sure he was saying this to be nice (he also doesn’t charge for follow ups if its for something you have been seen for prior) but that feels like a waste of time for him and me. The surgeon wrote a note to my dentist office saying why he did not recommend surgery.

Can you guess what happened next? At my next cleaning the hygienist asked if I had my wisdom teeth removed yet. This time I felt annoyed because she would have seen the note if she had looked at my record before I sat down. Told the hygienist that no surgery was recommended at this time and there should be a note on file. She interrupted me part way through to say she could see the note. I didn’t say anything else about this at the appointment but this really annoyed me and felt like the final straw.

So now to wait a month, maybe less if they call me again, for my first appointment at another practice. Part of the reason I hesitated to change was because I figured the same things may happen elsewhere with my wisdom teeth situation. I hope that is not the case.
 
Last edited:
krlovesherkids777

krlovesherkids777

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I hope so too!! There are definately some practices and dentist and hygenists better than others! a world of difference.. I hope that is so for your new practice you deserve it! and wow.. that hygenist .... I would think passive agressive too..
 
Sol

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Not much to update, just random thoughts.

•Still worried I will freeze, not be able to talk or say what I want to say. If that happens then this endeavor will feel kinda pointless. I've written a memo on my phone with bullet points. Figure if I get stuck I can reference that or maybe just hand off my phone for the dentist to look at.

•Once a month or so I volunteer with an animal shelter. In my collection of equipment for that, there is a training clicker. Plan on keeping that in my pocket in case they don't have a better recommendation for signalling since that's difficult for me.

•My upper left back most molar is being sensitive to cold. I posted about this in April. Gordon's recommendation to put desensitizing toothpaste on it for a few days was helpful but it still flares now and again. Not so much worried about needing to have something done to tooth but nervous about letting the dentist look at or touch it (even though I know rationally it will be fine).

For now I think I will be checking the forums less than I have been. I'm overwhelming myself and keeping the anxiety on my mind too much. Will have to find other things to keep me busy until it gets closer to appointment day.
 
Sol

Sol

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Haunted Toothbrush

Think I'm passing my anxiety over to my toothbrush. This morning I could hear a buzzing sound in my home and wasn't sure where it was coming from. It was my electric toothbrush turning on by itself! Turned it off but it has been turning itself on through out the day, sometimes its not responsive when pressing the off button. It also doesn't light up when its on the charger so think its time to replace it. Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something.
 
F

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We're all here for you Sol! :XXLhug:
 
kitkat

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I decided to wait until Monday to try emailing places. Figured I’d give myself a break this week. Started writing this post awhile ago then paused when all that other stuff happened so this will be a long “from memory” post.


The Follow Up Appointments

The next appointment was about two weeks later. I remember feeling less stressed in the waiting room but still a bit nervous since I wasn’t entirely sure what treatments would be recommended. The wait was also much shorter, 5-10 minutes. The office manager showed to me to a smaller side office, just a desk and PC in the room. On the desk was a folder with my name.

Ended up waiting a few minutes for the dentist to arrive. When he came in and sat down, he asked if I had looked through the folder. Nope, I felt too nervous to open it. The dentist ended up opening the folder and we went through the pages together. They also had my file on the PC so they could show me some additional photos/xrays not in the report. I don’t think I’ve ever received this detail about a diagnosis for anything. The folder contained a written summary from the dentist, printouts of the photos for the teeth that needed work, a printout of the panoramic xray, and some one-page articles that talked about what to expect in general for the different procedures. (These articles kind of reminded me of pages on this site that give overviews of common procedures.)

I wasn’t super familiar with the numbering system used for teeth so it took a moment for me to start following along with the dentist’s notes. There were a couple photos that were a tad cringey for me (the photos were taken before the cleaning so the calculus buildup was rather large in some areas). Otherwise, this part wasn’t bad and I felt good about the recommendations.

You are probably saying what was the treatment plan already?!? I needed to have 4 fillings in some molars (one in each quadrant). If I remember right these teeth already had composite fillings so it was touching up the edges where there was decay. The molar that turned gray from decay ended up needing a crown. (This was the tooth Dr. J ignored during my last appointment there.) Since this molar was asymptomatic the dentist said I didn’t need an RTC. Lastly, I would be referred to an oral surgeon to have my wisdom teeth out. I was encouraged to have all 5 out even though one was only partly erupted. The impacted teeth were creating deep pockets in my gums around the back molars which could lead to future issues (decay, infection, etc.).

After going over all that the dentist said his good byes and I spent some time with the office manager to go over how to space the appointments out (to get the most benefit from insurance) and pricing. Since the crown was a concern, I would get the crown and the two fillings on the right side done first. The other two fillings would be left to another appointment 4 months in the future when my insurance benefits were renewed for the new year. The wisdom teeth stuff would also wait until next year. Honestly, this is not as bad as I was expecting. I could tell I had cavities prior to the appointment, I could keep the tooth that I thought would have to be removed…and the wisdom teeth could wait a bit longer.

Getting the Crown

A couple weeks later I was back for the crown and fillings. This office offers same day crowns so this made for a long appointment but at least I didn’t have to do this in two appointments. Just going to try to go over highlights of unique things I remember.

While sitting with the assistant prior to starting, I was able to tell the assistant that I dislike needles and was feeling nervous (I’m one of those people that has an easier time talking to the assistants/hygienists/etc.) She tried to reassure me that the dentist was skilled and not to worry too much. (Yeah, that didn’t help lol.) Anyway, the dentist showed up and tried to make a bit of small talk before laying me back. Felt tense laying there. The assistant said something to the dentist I think about me being nervous about needles and I had a knee jerk reaction to suddenly feel bad about being nervous. I shot the assistant an annoyed look. Wish I hadn’t but her comment caught me off guard. They continued on with getting set up, and I closed my eyes. Due to my reaction, they both got quiet. This led to feeling uneasy because I couldn’t hear them talking. I’m not sure how much time passed but I opened my eyes and got an eye full of big needle hovering over my face. Amazing. It was like my whole body flinched. (Think of spring just suddenly releasing all its stored energy.) The talking started again after that. I’m sure the dentist was trying to be gentle and going slowish but the first injections were not really comfortable. At least they waited for a couple minutes before giving me a couple more shots on the lower quadrant because that was where the tooth that needed to be crown was located.

Fast-forward to the part about having a dental dam placed and the bite block (you thought I would forget about the bite block story). The dentist asked the assistant for “the pillow” and I thought “What?” I opened my eyes and could see the green squishy plastic thing. This was placed on the side opposite of where they were working and I was told to bite on it, that it would give my jaw a rest. I felt a lot of relief at hearing that because I remember the difficulty of trying to keep my mouth open for those other appointments.

Having the dental dam placed was a new experience. I had read about it on this website but the dentists in my past experiences never used them. To me having a lot of cotton in my mouth for fillings was the norm. I wasn’t specifically worried about the dam but I was still tense from everything that happened prior. When the dentist was placing the dam around the bottom teeth there was a sudden popping sound. My teeth are packed pretty close together so the plastic dam was making a loud pop as they worked it between my teeth. There was no warning about this sound so, you guessed it, I flinched again. (Side note: During the second appointment to get fillings in the future this popping sound didn’t happen. I’m not sure if they used a dam made out of different material or if their technique improved in-between appointments.)

Going to fast-forward a bit more. After the tooth was prepped for the crown and a couple of the fillings were done there was a break while the dentist went to check on someone else. In the middle of this a new assistant showed up to cover for the other one. (This swap had been mentioned earlier in the appointment.) The assistant was slightly older than me and was reading through the notes, looking at my xray to get caught up. After she saw my xray she really surprised me by turning around and saying “It’s your first crown!” Her excitement confused me because I initially felt weird about needing a crown in my 20s. The assistant went on to say how excited she was for me and she behaved like this was a rite of passage. While we were waiting for the dentist to return, she also shared that she had her first crown in her early 20’s while she was still studying to be a dental assistant.

Other items in brief:

• Getting a CEREC crown and digital impressions was a good experience. I can see why people prefer the digital impressions, no gagging or goop. Having the permanent crown done in one appointment was also a nice bonus.

•There was a lot of downtime during this appointment but the waiting wasn’t bad. Besides the things I mentioned at the start it was a good experience.

•The crown ended up being a little high, I was too numb for them to check the bite at the appointment properly. This left the tooth feeling weird after meals. Of course, I worried at the time something was really wrong with the crown. Going back a week later to have it adjusted was easy and didn’t require numbing.

Feeling the Freeze

The next appointment to get the other two fillings was more or less uneventful except for one thing. One of the injections I had was extremely painful. It felt like my gums were burning. Never had an experience like this before. This is when I completely froze and realized that I could not signal that I was in pain. During the other appointments, there was no need to signal. Now that I needed to, I couldn’t lift my arms or hands. It was a really overwhelming feeling. My eyes started watering and I tried to keep back the tears. There were parts where I remember being asked if I was OK during and after the shot but I was just stuck nodding yes. Guessing because of the last appointment the dentist and the assistant just thought I was dealing with nerves related to the shot.

Felt like an idiot after the appointment and was really mad at myself for not being able to say anything. Feelings and memories from my teenage years started to make more sense, however. This was how I had coped through those bad appointments was by freezing over and toughing things out. After appointments this dentist usually does courtesy calls later in the day to ask how you are doing. There have been studies that show this helps with lowering patient’s pain and gives the impression the dentist is compassionate. I missed that call and wished I hadn’t. Maybe then I would have been able to talk about what happened during the appointment with him.

The wisdom teeth story will get its own post later. Things will be more or less up to date after that.
Just getting caught up on your posts now. That is great that you got some positive responses back from offices and yes, that hygienist who was obsessed with your wisdom teeth (which were a non-issue) would drive me batty! She needs to learn when to drop an issue and move forward.

I have only had 1 experience with the rubber dam. Mine also made a popping sound when the assistant was trying to install it but she warned me first that it would probably do that so I was not at all alarmed by it. It was an endodontist office and they placed rubber dams all day, so she probably better anticipated that the sound may bother some people. It’s amazing what a difference a little verbal warning makes sometimes!

I have had a similar injection experience to yours. It was my second filling with my “angel dentist” (stealing that term from krlovesherkids777). The injection was very painful so much that my eyes were watering and I think I was probably grimacing or at least shutting my eyes tight to keep the tears in. My first injection with this dentist was only a few weeks prior and 100% painless so I was completely taken by surprise. I froze and at that time it didn’t yet occur to me that I could or should stop her. Rather than my dentist asking if I’m okay (which I hate because I will probably always answer “yes”) she asked “are you feeling that?” And I was able to nod yes and she stopped. She almost always poses the question this way if I flinch during treatment which is somehow an easier question for me to answer. I was pretty shaken up after the injection and reluctant to continue with her and then she said “remember, you’re the one who’s in control here; if you want me to stop, I stop” so I let her carry on but I was an anxious mess the rest of the appointment. I have stopped her on several occasions since that appointment over the years but I have yet to have another really difficult injection with her (usually it’s during drilling if I don’t feel numb enough). I had a similar awful injection experience with the endodontist years later and again I froze but it didn’t rattle me as much as the first time (even though it was actually longer and more painful). I think a few things keep me from responding during injections. For starters, there is a needle in my mouth and I don’t really want to move and risk injury. Second, it’s not expected to last that long so I think if it’s over soon, I’ll just deal with it. Third, I didn’t really know the endo...I only met him once before at the consultation so I didn’t feel super confident about stopping him (but if it was my regular dentist, I probably would have because I’m more comfortable communicating with her). I will say the endo did a few tests to see if I had sensation around the tooth before starting and I was able to communicate to him that I was not fully numb on the first round and needed another injection but some of that was how he posed the question (much like my dentist had) “do you feel this?”. I think that question is easier to answer because it is more objective and specific. “Are you okay?” Is a very vague question. My dentist has also said “I’m not hurting you, am I?” If I look uncomfortable and that question is also easier for me to answer.
 
Sol

Sol

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Rather than my dentist asking if I’m okay (which I hate because I will probably always answer “yes”) she asked “are you feeling that?”
This seems like it would be ideal, since I just get stuck saying yes to everything when the freezing starts. Questions like, "Are you OK?" kinda lose their meaning in that situation. It was like I shutdown and couldn't speak to ask for help even though there were signs I was in distress. I haven't needed an injection in my mouth since that happened. Hope no future experiences are like that.

That being said, about a year ago I had a small cyst on my neck that needed to be removed. The numbing for that was quite painful as well but the nurse was very aware I was nervous and was doing her best to talk me through, asking what I could feel, offering water after, etc. The nurse was really afraid I was going to pass out even though I reassured her I would not. The burning sensation is bad for a brief period but that is better than going without numbing. Maybe that prior experience prepped me for what I was going to feel.

A week and a half left for my appointment. The last time I had my "first appointment" it was also a month wait but there were a couple calls from the office to bump it up sooner. However, this happened at a time where it would have been more difficult for me to just up an leave my job for a spur of the moment. Now that I can do something like that it doesn't happen. This experience has reminded me how phobic I am and how much further I need to go to feel like I have more control over it. Getting stuck during idle times worrying about the appointment, even though I know my worries are just in my head. Lots of other stuff has been going on as well this month (family member's illness, work has been stressful and as a bonus some of my task revolve around dental insurance this month, also doing college course work online) so that is why I have just been checking on weekends, to give some more distance for this stuff.

Last week decided to try listening to some guided meditations before bed to see if it would help with sleep. Haven't done this before but it does seem to help. No nightmares yet and I seem to sleep better/longer when I do it. This is definitely one of those things where you will get out what you put in so I can see its effectiveness varying by person. I'm sure there are a lot of free services you could find for either the relaxing music, meditations, etc. but there was a coupon from my employer's wellness program for a paid service/phone app so I decided to try it out. An additional feature it has are what they call "stories" which is people reading excerpts from books or short stories. Sometimes they are literally just reading the story, other times they mix in a little of the mindfulness stuff with reminding you to breathe. I don't know that this would be super helpful to listen on the first appointment but maybe something to consider keeping on hand for future appointments to help keep me feeling more level headed.
 
krlovesherkids777

krlovesherkids777

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Sol,

The guided meditations sounds helpful and calming. I had tried that before some of my appts and it did help calm me a little as well as just on as regular as I can basis. Wish I could say I keep up with that.. but your post reminded me how helpful just a little directed sort of calm can help.

I so agree with the fact.. are you ok.. is not the best question to be asked.. because it can sort of gloss right over feelings of discomfort for those of us who are more compliant and want to please the dentist and just let them do whatever and get on with it. I love Kitkat your dentist asking "did you feel that?" instead.. This is what my current dentist does too.. really like that.. then he gives me more without even thinking of things wanting me comfortable and not feeling any procedures... sure appreciate that in him!

lol Kitkat on the "angel dentist" I hope more and more of us get angel dentists :).. yours certainly is along with so many, and Simons Dental Heaven team :). and Enaretes angel dentist too :) really they are heros and angels..

anyways Sol.. I really hope your appt goes so well and you have a great connection with your new dentist and team! really hoping the best for you !!
 
Sol

Sol

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"You'll be fine..."

This has been kind of a roller coaster week emotionally. Texting with a friend that I've known for over a decade about life, the universe and everything earlier this week. During the conversation, mentioned feeling stressed about next week related to this and something else. When my friend asked why I was nervous about the dentist part I told them I was phobic. Cue the laughing emojis and animated gifs of "dentists" pulling teeth. For a split second I was really mad that he acted that way. There are plenty of stories here about people telling friends/family/etc about their fear and getting a bad reaction. For some reason I thought this would be different. We have talked about his anxiety related to other things but that doesn't seem to translate into mutual understanding. The conversation ended with him saying "You'll be fine" which just bummed me out. It's not worth trying to explain anything when speaking to someone who is in that frame of mind. I know he was probably trying to down play things but telling someone not to worry when they have anxiety is probably the worst thing to do. Felt rather upset afterwards and gave myself a nice headache for thinking on it too much that night. Hope he just forgets that it came up and we never talk about it again.

Received the confirmation text notice from the office this week. Wasn't sure how they were going to contact me or if they would send multiple confirmations (emails, text, or calls). For some reason getting the confirmation has made feel less apprehensive overall. However, still think about meeting the dentist and freezing over. The first appointment with my current dentist kinda set me up to fail (freeze) as I have thought about it more. That appointment was at 8 am so I took the morning off at work. This lead to me waking up early and then being around the house worried. On top of that there were 30-40 minutes of sitting in the waiting room so that didn't help either. This time, I will be at work for a couple hours before hand and hopefully something wont come up where I get stuck waiting forever.

Still not getting as much sleep as I normally do but I'm not waking up in a sweat from nightmares. The guided meditations/stories are helpful at least for falling to sleep and focusing on that rather than repeatedly worrying about the appointment before bed.
 
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