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Strategies that worked for me and things Ive learned from my dental phobias



Junior member
Jan 18, 2014
I told myself when I made some progress and took some steps toward my dental health, I would post. I posted before about being terrified of being numb and basically gagging, invasion of my mouth, the whole deal. Being numb and not being able to breath was my major fear though. I never liked ortho or dental work as a kid and definitely had some bad experiences when I was younger. As an adult, Ive been battling some general anxiety stuff. Viktor Frankl books and therapy have been helpful. Recently I have been meditating more and that is a big one.

Things got so bad I hired a CBT therapist who specializes with dentistry. I was obsessing on the internet like crazy about which dentist to see, what procedure to have done, whether I can fix my teeth with diet, etc. I called probably 20 dentists, spent money on consults with 10, paid two hypnotists (not worth it in my opinion) and was looking for the perfect solution. In the end I realize there is no perfect solution in life. No quick fix other than facing fear with positive coping strategies.

My CBT therapist helped me realize the obsession is just a way for me to avoid the fear and also distract from living the rest of my life. He helped me write out coping strategies and would assign homework. Some of the homework was having me ask a dentist to provide me with small amounts of numbing injections to desensitize my fears. Yesterday he even called me since this morning I got my wisdom teeth out....a truly great man and skilled therapist. His name is Dr. Ken Mazey in Los Angeles.

Well, last week I was put under iv sedation for two teeth that many said I would need root canals on. The holistic oriented dentist used ozone and opted to try to save the teeth without root canals. They have been hurting pretty badly since and he says to wait and see. Without advil im in a lot of pain with throbbing at night.... apparently some of the pain after work on deep cavities (one crown one filling) is normal but some could be indicative that I will need root canals. Fingers crossed that I dont. Numbing wasnt an issue for that on the upper teeth and it went smoothly. With iv I remember a couple things which I thought would freak me out and was a source of anxiety leading up to it, but the iv is so damn strong you have no clue, care, etc.

Today with the wisdom teeth I was scared as can be sitting in the chair about waking up numb but just took a leap of faith. I indeed woke up super numb and it did feel like my throat was numb and initially wanted to panic but remembered my mantra:"this is normal, everyone feels this, and it cant hurt me" instead of "omg it feels like I cant breathe im going to choke no one understands me". I was able to gain control of myself quickly and here I am with no more numbness and not really much pain yet either (except on those two damn possible root canal teeth). Even the throat being numb was more in my mind. I could swallow, it just felt weird.

For the last several months, like 6 or more even, I have been a worse brother, son, friend, and human because I allowed my dental fears to take over my mind and life. I was a zombie, and it seemed like every conversation with anyone, I wanted to shift the topic towards dental work. I have had the tendency to be the same way with other things in my life as well (ex girlfriend, job decisions). It is almost a narcissistic way of being as though the world should care so much about what Im going through. It is also a search for a special fix, or the perfect answer. Nothing will ever be perfect in life and we must learn to live with uncertainty.

I feel guilty that there are people going through real hard things with their lives on the line and I made such an ordeal about this. But, I can now forgive myself and realize the lessons. I will not make a bold claim that I am forever free of my dental phobia, and I still have some cavities to get done that I want to do without iv sedation. But what we tell ourselves is key. Not beating up on ourselves and calling ourselves "scared and weak" is key. Not framing ourselves as unique special victims is key. Being open to the idea that our bodies have a mind of their own (panic response from amygdala) and that we have the ability to watch it with our mind (pre-frontal cortex) and not buy into is key. Affirming that we will get through this, and we will feel good about it is key.

This website is amazing and I am grateful for it, despite me spending countless hours obsessively looking at it. I just wanted to share with others what worked for me. I definitely over thought the whole thing and spent enormous amounts of energy on it.
Re: Strategies that worked for me and things Ive learned from my dental phobias

Well, as good as it feels to have gotten some of the dental work done, the two teeth that were restored by the holistic dentist are really hurting. If I take advil its not so bad, but if not I wake up with severe throbbing pain and they are very sensitive to cold and it lingers for varying lengths of time depending on how much advil I have taken. The dentist who is a holistic guy coming highly recommended said we have to wait and see.

I guess there is a fine line between trauma after work to teeth with deep cavities and symptoms of needing a root canal. They were already borderline root canal teeth. Does anyone have experience with this and if I do need a root canal, will the dentist do it for free since it was his decision to try to avoid them? Thank you.