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Terrified of sedation, but no dentist will treat me without it



Junior member
Mar 30, 2022
I have a decent history of abuse and trauma. These things had been dealt with, however, a dentist (back in early December) brought these events back up. By that, I mean that their refusal to give me nitrous, their refusal to listen to me about my (at the time) general dental anxiety, etc, led me to have a breakdown in the office and made me feel as though I was being raped all over again...by the dentist. Since then, I have been completely phobic of the dentist (prior to this point, I was only anxious). At this time, no dentist will see me unless I am sedated. I don't want to be sedated, for many reasons I won't go into here at this point. However, since no one will see me, I have been forced to accept sedation for needed treatment. I wasn't a fan to begin with, but now I'm finding that the most common oral sedation is Midazolam, a medication I'm familiar with from lithotripsy and endoscopy, a medication that does not really even sedate me. I'm still fully aware of what is happening around me and to me. I am absolutely terrified that that I will be fully cognizant of everything that I'd happening, but will be unable to say or do anything about it, much like the dental appointment that brought my past back up in the first place.
Could you someone with you to ensure your safe .
I have to have someone with me for driving purposes. However, I'm not physically scared, I'm mentally scared. Meaning, I'm not concerned that something physically bad will happen with sedation, just mentally and emotionally. Will being poorly sedated just bring up more instability in me. There's nothing having someone with me will do to prevent that.
Can you talk to the anaesthetist to help ? When i was sedated i was completely out and recall nothing.
@BaileyBlue, so sorry to hear you're having such a hard time finding an understanding dentist :cry:.

You've probably already come across them, but just in case you haven't, there are a lot of resources on this website for people with a history of trauma and abuse (and for their dentists), for example, this page:

I don't know where you live - it can be pretty tough to find a suitable dentist if you live in a very rural area. Otherwise, you could try contacting other dentists, also in surrounding towns if you can get there. We've got some tips for finding a dentist here:

At the bottom of the article that was written by an abuse survivor, you can find links to further resources. For example, there is a patient form for victims of abuse and trauma here that you could send to promising-sounding dentists:

I really hope that you will be able to find someone who is prepared to go the extra mile. Have you received help from a psychologist or counsellor in the past? If so, perhaps they could help you with finding a dentist who can provide trauma-informed care?
Thank you for your response. I have read those articles...multiple times and many more on the site. I have also been in contact with a dentist there in the UK that is mentioned in one of them for further help (I'm in the US and stumbled upon dentalfearcentral). I live in a decent sized city (meaning it's not Chicago or New York, but is by no means rural. There is a dental clinic on every street corner. The population is around 150K). I've contacted every clinic in my area that shows any potential of being understanding. Most don't respond. Those that I was truly interested in, I tried again, either through email or a phone call, or both. Still nothing. Those that did respond, most quickly quit communicating with me. Those that made it to an in person meeting, placated me on how they could work around this or that trigger. I then received phone calls from all of them saying they couldn't work with me, I should be sedated. So, here I am, to be sedated in 4 days time. The meeting with this dentist did not go well for me. Her hands were in my mouth before she even bothered asking me to open up. If I moved my head away from her, she just pulled it back towards her. Between the x-rays that I cried through and the actual meeting of the dentist, I was no longer in my right mind and agreed to the sedation (combined with no other dentist willing to see me if I wasn't sedated). I told the dentist of prior experiences with sedation (most in a medical setting, one dental setting), all of which used Midazolam. I told her that at each of these appointments, I was either fully aware of what was happening the entire time, or became aware at some point. I told her the same was true for general anesthesia. I told her of my specific concerns with sedation. Her only response was that the cocktail of sedatives work just like Midazolam and she was comfortable with her plan of action. If I wasn't comfortable, I needed to cancel so they could see patients that actually wanted help. Despite this, I told them I would be there. I began receiving texts from an assistant/nurse regarding my current meds, etc and asked if the assistant I saw previously would be the same as for this appointment (as she was the only good part of that appointment) . This one let me know that assistant and another would be present. When I asked why there would be another assistant present (pure curiosity), I was told it was a legal requirement and I needed to cancel if I wasn't comfortable with that. I let her know I didn't want to be sedated in the first place and wasn't comfortable with any of this, but I'd be there. Her only response was 'great! See you soon!' So, really, every red flag you can imagine.

I am so sorry what you went through back in December, it definately sounds like retraumatization , huge triggers.. It sounds like a really draining and horrible experience and I'm sorry they treated you like that not taking your needs into consideration or listening to you. I wish they had a plan that would make you feel comfortable and would be in your best intersest both physically and emotionally. It sounds as if this dentist in last post was just not very cognizant of your boundaries or what you needed and just went right past them.. I know its hard sometimes to find someone we are comfortable with, I need to know are they going to listen, and treat me as a human with my physical and emotional needs considered utmost. NOt just them going through the motions to get a procedure done on me You are a numan, with real feelings ,experiences and triggers. I think there are alot of dentists out there that will treat you well . Could you write down your concerns like you you want to share with her and call before the procedure and say I need these answered I don't feel comfortable with this right now? I know that is hard.. I've done it.. Thankfully my dentist came through in a big way. Know you have the choice , its up to you and you deserve someone who will treat you kind with compassion and your needs met.. I know its hard to find time and space sometimes in this world so that is a factor. but ... it is usually worth it to make sure you are at peace wtih things . again you are worth kind gentle care! :grouphug:
It's a no-go. I'm done with the dentist, all of them, especially this one. I asked her at my 'consultation' with her to ask before putting her hands in my mouth and to quit pulling my head back towards her. She didn't listen then and she sure as hell didn't listen at the sedation appointment (oral sedation with hydroxyzine, triazolam, and nitrous). I didn't sedate at all. She assured me that if I was still coherent enough to hold a conversation with her after giving me the maximum dosage, she would not proceed. Well, I was still coherent enough, not that she bothered with a conversation, she just jumped right in. She continued numbing me while I cried, she continued polishing my teeth while I hyperventilated, only stopping because she needed my mouth rinsed out and sectioned. She kept trying to pry my mouth open and forcing my head back towards her. Once she failed at getting me to cooperate, she threw her tools down and walked out of the room saying 'we're done here.'

I've tried telling dentists what I can and cannot handle. I've tried telling them (vaguely) about my past or withholding it from them, telling them merely that I am highly phobic at the dentist. None of it matters. I have tried more dentists than I care to admit. I've tried starting with email, or a consultation. It doesn't matter.

I found one dentist that was actually caring and compassionate and he won't see me anymore. So, if a dentist cares, they won't see me. If they will see me, they don't care. Each experience is worse than the last. I'm done.

I am so very sorry you had this experience. No one should have to go through that! It seems you are really doing all you can do to make your dental visit go well by telling about your anxiety ,and starting slow. I'm sorry you were treated like this! It definately makes me so mad and sad at the same time and I wasn't even the patient.. Dentists are so different , you can have someone like Dr Niall or Lincoln or Gordon and other dentists on here that really listen truly and respect stop signs and boundaires and really earn the trust and then you have others who just don't. and that is sad. This one just seemed to have no boundaires and sounded a bit of a temper tantrum at the end.. really showing her colors.. ( not like she hadn't the whole way through. I'm just really sorry for you. Personally I've had alot of bad dentists and a few good ones. and I can say the few good ones show you that there are some that can be trusted and there are those that care deeply for your boundaries and safety both physially and emotionally.. I definately don't blame you for wanting to take a break. Also sorry the compassionate one couldn't see you. Is it due to sedation? :grouphug:
It's not that the compassionate one 'can't' see me, he won't see me. Long story short, due to the traveling nature of my job I was seeing a dentist in another state from where I actually live (that would be the dentist from December). I came home on vacation and needed a dentist due to severe pain. I ended up with the nice dentist. After listening to me tell him of my experience with the other clinic, he told me I should just give up on the other clinic and come see him. My second appointment with him I shut down completely. I know I said some things about my past but I don't know what or how much. I later scheduled an appointment with him for an actual check up. in the meantime I was officially dismissed from the previous clinic and I thought it best to confirm with him he would still see me. He wouldn't. It went from 'come see me' and 'I can work with you' to 'we're so far booked out it would be really difficult to squeeze you in' and 'you should be sedated'. Any further correspondence with him and his replies...or silence have made it clear he won't see me, not that he can't.