• Dental Phobia Support

    Welcome! This is an online support group for anyone who is has a severe fear of the dentist or dental treatment. Please note that this is NOT a general dental problems or health anxiety forum! You can find a list of them here.

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Former Member
Hi, I am new to this board and forgive me if I have done this wrong!

I think I am suffering from dental phobia, I have terrible teeth and know I need to go to see a dentist as I havent been able to eat for 3 days for fear of aggravating a tooth that gave me a lot of pain on Sunday. The problem I have is that I am ashamed of opening my mouth for fear of the dentist and the dental nurse judging me. I think I may need 2 maybe 3 teeth pulled and at least 3 fillings. I also think I may need a crown on my front tooth as the enamel has broken off and is now discolouring, I am ashamed to smile and if I do I only do it with my mouth closed, I never show my teeth and find myself either looking down or covering my mouth when I talk to someone. My husband doesnt seem to understand that I have a genuine fear of the dentist so I have no one to talk to :cry:

I have managed to go to the dentist and fill out the form to register but thats as far as I have got, the thought of actually making the appointment is making me physically sick and I am even feeling nauseous typing this out. I fear the actual work that needs to be done because not only do I have a fear of dentists I also have a fear of needles! I have never had a crown or root canal work done and am worried about the procedure should I actually need it. I also am on a low icome and what with Christmas only being round the corner I cant really afford the work to be done.

I have spoked with my husband about the money aspect of this and he thinks I am over reacting as I may not need as much done as I think, he has no idea on the state of my mouth as I tend to even cover up when I speak to him, I am ashamed of showing him the true state of my teeth as when we watch makeover programmes with people that have bad teeth he just sits there amazed that people actualy let it get to that state, if he only knew eh! I know how my fear of the dentist started but just cant seem to get over it. please, anyone that can advise me on calming techniques and what is actually involved in the treatment I may need would be greatly appreciated,

A truly petrified patient :cry:
Hi Nat,


Many people are really ashamed of opening their mouth in front of a dentist because they're scared that they might judge them, tell them off for 'letting their teeth get into such a state' and also for not going sooner. Then of course there's all the worry about what treatment might be needed, how much it will all cost and will it hurt etc. And all this is before you even consider what it is that scares you so much that you stopped going in the first place :(.

But don't worry - you've come to the right place for advice/support :).

Nat(Guest) said:
The problem I have is that I am ashamed of opening my mouth for fear of the dentist and the dental nurse judging me.

Depending on how long it is since you last saw a dentist, you'll probably find that attitudes towards this sort of thing have changed quite a lot. It really isn't in their best interests to be judgmental or tell you off or whatever because as a patient, you're also their source of income! But, more importantly, it's better that you keep your mouth in good health and this (unfortunately :p!) means regular checkups. Obviously if they start making nasty remarks etc, you're not going to go back are you? So, it's also in their best interests to be as helpful (which means being non-judgmental) as they can.

I didn't go to the dentist for about 7 years (due to all sorts of fears) and it took me months to make the decision to go back. In addition to all the fears I had anyway, I was absolutely convinced that I was going to get told off and humiliated. And then there was all the treatment that I decided I'd definitely need for letting my teeth get into such a state - I fretted over it for months and months. When I eventually did see a dentist, he didn't judge me at all - his only concern was the state of my teeth at the time and what could be done to sort out any immediate problems. He didn't want to know about why I hadn't gone for so long - didn't even ask! (although he probably figured it out considering I was a nervous wreck! ;)). And I didn't need anywhere near as much doing as what I'd imagined.

Nat(Guest) said:
My husband doesnt seem to understand that I have a genuine fear of the dentist so I have no one to talk to :cry:

Lots of people feel on their own with this - even though we're often surrounded by family and friends, we can't talk to them because we're so scared and ashamed. We think we're the only ones and sometimes some people can feel very isolated with their fear(s). There are loads of people on here who are all at different stages with their phobia - some are new and scared and some have been posting quite a while and are still scared (<--- this is me! ;)) but everyone's in the same boat, so you're not on your own :).

Nat(Guest) said:
I have managed to go to the dentist and fill out the form to register but thats as far as I have got

Well done for making that first step :jump:. Registering and making an appointment are sometimes the hardest things to do (apart from going to the actual appointment), but you've already made progress just by filling in those forms.

Nat(Guest) said:
I fear the actual work that needs to be done because not only do I have a fear of dentists I also have a fear of needles!

I don't know if you've seen it already but there's a page about fears here:

- click on the individual fears for more information and tips.

Nat(Guest) said:
I know how my fear of the dentist started but just cant seem to get over it.

Everyone is different and it depends on what caused your fear and if there are any specific things that you're scared of - there are lots of things that can help though :) - often it's just a question of trying different things until you find something that works for you.

There's a list of things that might help which you could go through with your dentist - if you click on the link above and scroll down, there's a PDF download called What Might Help.

Obviously I don't know which country you're from so I can't really suggest anything about paying for dental treatment :( (it varies from country to country), but there are usually various options available. You never know - you might need less treatment than you think.

Hope this helps

Please feel free to post on here for advice/support etc. :)
Thankyou very much for your reply and I am in the UK.

I know that my fears are somewhat 'silly' but I just cant bring myslef to do it! I have picked up the phone at least 5 times today and I have even drove past the surgery in the hope that I might stop and go in to ask for my appointment. I wish I could afford private treatmenn because I have read some posts here and they say that with private treatment the dentist talks to you more and your made to feel at ease more, I have asked to speak to the dentist and the receptionist was a very nice and caring lady, which made me feel somewhat better, she said that when I make my 1st appointment I will have the opportunity to speak with the dentist then and that all they will do is take a few x-rays and that will probably be it, I cant help but think that she is lying and as soon as I get in that dreaded chair they will begin some painful procedure! I am not sleeping at night as I am constantly thinking about the dentist! I am 30 yrs old and have given birth!
Hiya Nat :welcome:

Please dont think that you need to find a private dentist to get the sympathetic treatment you need. I'm currently being treated by special needs/phobic clinic under the nhs ( i need to be sedated for any type of treatment). BTW, i'm in the uk too....scotland
Untill your appointment comes through, have you thought of e-mailing your dentist to explain your fears? It may be easier for you to do this rather than writing a letter and handing it in.
Your first appointment will be for an assessment only, so dont fret about that. ( they will need to know what treatment you actually need before they do anything)
Im 44 and have had two children,i had natural deliveries both times and would rather have gone through that again, than have dental treatment. But, 4 months ago.... I took the plunge and have been to the dentist twice.

With help and support you'll get there too
first of all.... :cheers: ...that is for getting as far as you have. everything you have done so far shows alot of courage. i am not in the best position to be giving advice, seeing as how i am also a bit afraid and i need alot of work, but i thought that i would share a few little things that have helped me. maybe they can do the same for you.
before the appointment..when i am the most nervous..i try to occupy my mind with other things if at all possible. the more you let yourself sit and dwell on it, the more your own mind will run wild and scare you more.
when i am feeling really scared, i also try to imagine my life in the future, with a beutifull set of teeth. i can picture me eating things i haven't eaten in years, and i know i will be smiling all the time. my front teeth are pretty bad, and i know that closed mouth smile very well. to think of my life in the future and see the happiness i may have, and then to think of where i am at now..miserable with my mouth, really helps. i want to be that happy. i want to not have to worry about my teeth all the time.
i also force myself to trust the dentist. i try to assure myself that he is highly trained and skilled and has done this a million times before.
when it comes to the actual fear of needles..well one thing i have found that helps the most with that is a numbing machine called 'the wand'. it administers the meds slowly and evenly thru a small needle at the end of a stick that they just place on your gum a few times. this way there is no syringe, and the dentist isn't pushing the meds out by hand. it is all digital and if you have nitrous oxide going on you have absolutly no idea what is going on. painless.
also, if i do need to have the regular novacaine thru a syringe, i try not to focus on what he is doing, i try not to look at him/her, and i certainly would never ever actually look at the syringe.
you said that you had a emergency extraction once...did it hurt before you had it taken out? i remember when i had a terrible infection/abcess once and the pain that i went thru was simply unbearable. the worst thing i have ever felt..more than broken bones, cuts and burns. so when i am getting dental work done i try to think of it as ME controlling the PAIN, instead of the other way around. being a step ahead of the pain.
well i know this is a long post...but i hope it helps some.
congrats on getting as far you have. just deciding that you want to take control of the situation is a HUGE step. :jump:
on the subject of not having anyone to talk to..i am sorry you feel that way. i can tell you that if your husband loves you enough to marry you, he will love you even if you tell him you have some dental problems. i know you may not feel that way, but maybe if you try to have a heart-to-heart about it, and show him how much it affects you, you would be surprised.
you can also always pm me or something if you ever need it. i have found this forum helps me on so many levels. and being here is a great first step.

I havent emailed the dentist as I am not sure they will read them! I have spoken with the receptionist though and she was very kind and understanding. I am sitting here now with the phone in my hand but just cant do it! I have a niggling pain in my top left tooth, am unsure of what one as I have 2 bad teeth that side of my mouth and I really want to overcome this, I just want to know for sure that they wont work on my teeth on my 1st appointment! I went to a dentist 8 yrs ago and they filled a tooth there and then without even telling me why. Sorry for repeating myself but I havent been able to speak about my fears with anyone else as they just say im 'being silly' I am also very scared of having either root canal or a crown as I have never had this done before and think I might have to. I have an 8 yr old who is beginning to show the same fears as me and I really dont want that!
Please don't feel that your fears are silly - everyone's different with different fears and different reasons.

Like happy, I'm also an NHS patient. Whilst it's true that mainstream NHS practices usually spend less time per patient than private ones (too much pressure to treat as many patients as possible), a lot of it is also to do with the individual dentist's ability to make you feel more at ease and in control etc. For example, when I decided to go back after 7 years, the dentist I saw was fairly laid back and I never felt rushed or anything (even though I wanted to get out of there asap!). He's since retired and his replacement couldn't be more different - although my appointments are still the same length, he rushes about like a cat on a hot tin roof and things are very hurried! (I secretly suspect that he could be as nervous of me as I am of him!).

Don't beat yourself up over not being able to pick up the phone yet - you'll do it when you're ready :) (or maybe you could email them for an appointment?)

I have suffered for years with tooth pain and abcesses, I manage to get to the dentist for antibiotics but never seem to get the courage to go back for treatment. I hope that by spending some more time here I will be able to one day make the next step!
I too suffered with a very deep infection, and like you, got the antibiotics and never went back. Until this last time....... i think i took antibiotics for nearly four weeks before it finally cleared up.

I lurked on here for weeks before I actually had the courage to post, I was actually crying as I typed the words "dentist, chair, treatment " etc. It really does help posting on here. I.ve spent many a sleepless night browsing the boards and reading the posts over and over. If ever you find yourself in that situation and I'm online, please feel free to pm me. :XXLhug:
Thanks everyone for your kind words and encouragement, I hit another set back on my quest to make my first appointment, I finally picked the phone up and dialled the number, only to hear a recorded message on the other end, they had closed for the day so now I have to go through all of that again on Monday, I am upset as it was a big step fo rme to do that. I am in pain today and know I need to have an emergency appointment which means no choice on waiting for treatment, If I get in tomorrow then I will have to have all the things that scare me done! Needle, sitting in the chair, and the drill :scared: I can honestly say I have never been so frightened. I know if I do get in then it will be over and the pain will go away but its just the thought... I feel sick!
Firstly, well done for picking the phone up and making the call - even though you got through to a recorded message, it proves that you do have the courage to call again :thumbsup:.

When you filled in the forms to register, did you mention that you're 'nervous' (<--- another description for completely terrified ;))? It's important that you let them know what it is that scares you because then they may be able to suggest ways of dealing with it and maybe make things a bit easier for you. There are lots of things that they can do to help including simple things like reassurance, talking you through every step both before and during (fear of the unknown can be one of the worst things) and using stop signals - so you can say if you want a break. Many people find that sedation can also help them a great deal. It's just a question of finding what works for you.

From the sounds of it (although I'm no expert), they might have to do some sort of treatment to relieve the pain that you're in, but as you've said, once it's over the pain will go - and you'll be able to give yourself a huge pat on the back.

I do know how scared you are - as does everyone else on here. We've all been through the same thing and some of us are still completely terrified - so you're in good company :).

Please let us know how it's going - feel free to post as much as you need to.

OK so I phoned this morning... At one point I thought I was going to drop the phone as my hands were shaking so much! I have my 1st registration check over tomorrow at 3 :scared:

I am feeling OK at the moment but I know that tonight I wont sleep! I asked about what they do for people like me and unfortunately they dont offer any sedation or drugs that will help me but they have referred me to the gentlest dentist they have, I am not sure if this makes me feel any better or not!

Well step one is over... Now I just need to actually get myself there tomorrow!! :(
:jump: Well done for making the phone call and talking to them :thumbsup:. I know it's not easy - particularly when they answer the phone and speak to you (when the practice where I go phoned me once, I didn't realise who it was until I answered my mobile - as soon as I heard the word "dental" I went "Arrgghhh" and dropped my phone :redface:!).

Sedation is just one option of many and what works for some people might not work for others. Often all that's needed is someone who will take time to listen to your fears, put you in control and let you take things at your pace - you'll know when you've found the right thing for you.

One of the things that I've found helpful is to make a list of the things that scare me and why - then I've come up with a list of what I'd need to know or what would need to happen for me to be not quite so terrified.
vicki said:
One of the things that I've found helpful is to make a list of the things that scare me and why - then I've come up with a list of what I'd need to know or what would need to happen for me to be not quite so terrified.

Thanks for that idea... I will do that tonight, I know that tomorrow is just my first consultation and it is an opportunity for me to meet the dentist and discuss what bothers me most about dental treatment. I am scared but at the same time excited about finally getting something done about the pain and my teeth!! Is that weird!!?
No I don't think it is weird - the reason you're probably looking forward to it as well as being scared is because as you say, your teeth will be getting sorted out but also because once you've been, the great fear of the unknown will be no more :).

When I went back for my first appointment (after hiding for 7 years), I did sort of manage to tell the dentist I was scared. When I told him, the first thing he asked was what was I scared of - I couldn't answer because firstly, I was too terrified to speak much anyway and second, the fear was far too big and scary for me to contemplate so the only thing I could answer was "everything" :(. Obviously with hindsight, I realise that this wasn't actually much help to him - but I was far too scared to be able to say what exactly scared me. Whilst every single thing about it still does scare me, when I sat down and thought about it (with a lot of help from letsconnect I might add ;)), there are some things that are the main fears, which if they could be sorted out, then everything else might also fall into place.
Very wise words! I can honestly say though that if I hadnt found this forum I dont think I would have been able to do what I have done so far! Although the thought of tomorrow still petrifies me I know that it is one step closer to a fear that I need to get over and after tomorrow the fear will be one step further away than what it was say 5 years ago! My rational side is telling me that it will be fine and i have nothing to worry about but then I have my fearful side telling me nooo not the dentist and thats when the panic starts! I guess I am just counting the hours now till D Day tomorrow!
Well done Nat...... you've got over the first hurdle and made that call :jump:
Good luck for tomorrow :XXLhug:
happydancyfeet said:
Well done Nat...... you've got over the first hurdle and made that call :jump:
Good luck for tomorrow :XXLhug:

Thankyou! I think I may need it!
I think everyone on here counts the hours until our appointment - I'm certainly no exception. My next appointment is 4 weeks tomorrow so I'm counting the weeks at the moment :(. I also have a rational and a fearful side when it comes to dental phobia - the only trouble is that like a lot of people, my rational side completely disappears on the day of the appointment and I'm a gibbering wreck - which is when things start to get complicated because not only am I terrified, but I'm also incredibly embarrassed by my 'nerves' :(.

But it takes a lot of courage to make the phone call to arrange an appointment and every single step you take is a step nearer to sorting out your fear. Each step also proves that you can find the guts to do it.

Fear is strange thing - a lot of it seems to be based on "What if...." because we worry that "if x happens", we'll panic and won't be able to cope. But the reality is that we do somehow cope - otherwise people wouldn't return to the board to post their progress :). Considering how scared you feel, it takes a huge amount of courage to go in there and do it anyway :thumbsup: and even if you do panic or are scared, you're still taking positive steps to overcome your fear.
Hi Nat!

Congratulations on making your first appointment! :cheers: Wow, you have shown so much courage already, imagine how great you'll feel when you walk out of that office tomorrow!

I know exactly what you mean about feeling excited and nervous all at once, it's not weird at all. I had first contact with a dentist today (in 20 odd years!), I sent an email to one about my thoughts, and to see if they were sympathetic to them, and I'm incredibly nervous about the reply, but can't wait to see it at the same time! I guess it's the concept that maybe I can finally move on a little with my life once I've faced this, you know? So that's exciting and nerve racking all at once!

Good luck for Wednesday, keep posting and let us know how you go.

Fingers crossed for you! :)


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