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Thanks to this forum, I'm finally on track to fix my teeth that I've struggled with since I was a child

flf42

flf42

Junior member
Joined
Jul 17, 2020
Messages
2
Location
United States
Firstly, I wanted to thank each and every one of you that post here. I've felt so alone and so childish about my fear of the dentist- the fear of being judged for letting my teeth get this bad- ever since I was a child.

Seeing so many different people- different ages, genders, occupations... all of us struggling with this singular, seemingly impassable barrier made me swallow my fear and finally call the dentist for the first time.

As a child, my mom never really took me to the dentist and I never had any issues worth going for. 6 month cleanings? I had one cleaning in high school and that was it.

I think that dentist trip is what put me off the dentist and filled me with deep shame. I was just out of high school, and needed to get my medical info together to enroll in college so I went. And while the hygienist was so kind and sweet with me the dentist was stony faced and treated me like a mouth of teeth and not a person. He didn't say hello, or talk to me about anything, just went to work reading out teeth numbers and everything wrong with them to the kind lady hygienist. He didn't even introduce himself, just gave the hygienist the information and left.

She told me I needed a root canal and something like 8 fillings all throughout my teeth- and while she was very nice telling me about the decay I was facing... the whole experience was humiliating. So I just never went back.

Throughout the years, my molars which had the most damage continued to get worse and worse, but I was never in any pain. I managed to eat just fine even as they kept decaying and decaying. My molars are in awful shape, but not rotted to the gumline or anything- just have large holes in them that I imagine are all the way down to the root.

I've always had a horrible overbite that I've been self conscious of, too- for whatever reason my parents never thought to get me braces and I never asked. I'm the sort of person that always covers her mouth when she laughs or smiles because it bothers me so much.

So my teeth have always been a point of contention and anxiety for me, but my fear had kept me from taking the initiative and changing them. And since I was never really in pain, just discomfort and some difficulty eating certain things... I just chugged along.

That is, until one of my upper teeth (the second premolar on the left side) started to act up. While my molars had never really hurt while they decayed, this tooth hurt. Usually a sharp pain, followed by a constant, dull throbbing that was inescapable and made concentrating on anything impossible. It made me short tempered and unpleasant. It still does- while I'm writing this it's finally aching less and less, I find I have to rinse with warm salt water immediately after eating to soothe it before it starts or I'm at the whims of how long it takes the ibuprofen to kick in. But even then, I was too nervous, too anxious to make the call even when I was in so much pain from eating... anything.

But then I found this forum. And like I stated before, reading everyone's journeys... and realizing that I wasn't a failure for being scared, and neglecting my teeth helped me overcome the first hurdle.

So I made the appointment over the phone, pacing my whole first floor while using my best "mature phone voice" with the pleasant sounding lady across the line. Because of covid I had to wait a whole month for my appointment, which I spent a large chunk of researching and reading this forum to help me better understand dentistry in general. Being informed, I've found, takes away much of the anxiety.

My appointment was two hours long, and the women there were so kind and patient with me that I found myself getting teary eyed. After I sat down in the chair, my anxiety just... disappeared. They patiently directed how I should bite down on those xray wings (some of those were so uncomfortable to hold a bite on, thanks to my overbite!) and apologized whenever I showed even the slightest amount of discomfort. The hygienist was wonderful, kind and told me every step she was taking- the xrays, the pictures... and the dentist was just as wonderful. She told me, during the gum check, that if I ever got overwhelmed or needed a break to just raise my left hand and she would stop. The gum check wasn't unpleasant at all- in fact, once I got used to having my mouth manhandled I just zoned out as she worked and chatted with the hygienist.

So, first, besides a little gingivitis in one area near the back where my wisdom teeth came in on top, my gums are in perfect shape. She said she was very surprised that I had nearly no build up on my teeth for someone who hasn't been to the dentist in over 9 years (I recall now that the hygienist said the same thing at my high school appointment, I must be genetically lucky).

However, not only are my wisdom teeth all impacted (two on top, two on the bottom) but my lower molars on both sides are too damaged to save. So they will have to be extracted and replaced with implants. Besides that, a filling on my premolar and all my other teeth are in perfect shape.

I'm very sad about the molars- I imagine if I had gone in even two years ago I could've saved them... but I'm looking on the bright side. I can have them removed when I have my wisdom teeth removed, get bone grafts and then save up for implants for another time.

Just having a plan, and knowing that I can fix this... is enough for me. It's going to be expensive, my insurance doesn't cover it all but... I'm still elated. I finally did it!!

My appointment for cleaning and filling is next month, unfortunately, so I will have to wait. And I still need to make an appointment to get my wisdoms and molars taken out. Which I'm a little nervous about, but I will manage to do. I was actually really surprised that they couldn't remove the wisdoms here (granted they're all impacted, I guess), but I'm going to trust their judgement. I've never been put under before, or sedated, or even gotten a filling done.... so this is all new to me. But thanks to this forum I see now that I'll be okay.

The dentist also recommended an orthodontist to me, when I have everything else done, so I can take the steps to get my teeth straightened! The idea of getting rid of this overbite... finally... I'm excited for that, too.

The hardest hurdle was extending the trust necessary to let the dentist look in my mouth, and see the most shameful secret of mine. Once I got that far... everything else opened up and I realized that I would be okay.

So if you're reading this, and currently putting off making that appointment because of a deep, painful shame... it's okay. There are dentists out there that will take care of you emotionally, and not just your teeth.
 
krlovesherkids777

krlovesherkids777

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 26, 2017
Messages
2,898
Location
Minneapolis, MN
flf42

:welcome: Thank you So much for sharing this!! This is an absolutely lovely story of overcoming dental anxiety!! We are glad you shared and really glad you are a part of the community here! There are a lot of people who really understand where you are coming from and here to support you stepping forward in your journey step by step!:grouphug:

So glad that you made and went to your appt and had a good one , with kind dental staff!! It really makes all the difference when someone takes the time to be kind, gentle and listen instead of treating you like just another set of teeth or a number..

So awesome to hear your story and experience and wishing you the best on your journey. Look forward to hearing more as you gain more trust and positive momentum!
 
Enarete

Enarete

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 18, 2017
Messages
2,720
Hi there and thank you so much for your kind words, it's so lovely to read that you found comfort and reassurance here! :love:

You have been amazingly brave to tackle your fear after that bad experience. I was so sorry to read how the dentist messed up and made your otherwise nice experience with the hygienist being overwritten by the feeling of humiliation. Those are the experiences that make people stop going for years:(

It's amazing to read that you were treated with kindness and patience and feel ready to face the treatment, even excited to get your teeth straightened! Being sad and feeling regret over the molars is ok too - those are feelings that deserve to be allowed and embraced, and are a part of the process.

Hope your premolar stops hurting soon too.

All the best wishes, may the waiting time for your next appoinment pass by quickly. Dental journeys sometimes have ups and downs, so feel free to post, vent or ask questions whenever you feel like it :)
 
B

Beckybo

Junior member
Joined
Apr 29, 2013
Messages
19
Hi
Just wanted to say that this could of been written for me, I feel like I’ve just read my own situation 😳
I’m literally so happy I came across this post.
There is always light at the end of a very dark, long tunnel.
And like you, the fact that the dentist has now seen inside my mouth - that I have been severely embarrassed of for most of my adult life - and there is now a plan....I just feel like huge weight has been lifted.
Thanks for posting this and huge HUGE good luck 😊 🤗
 
flf42

flf42

Junior member
Joined
Jul 17, 2020
Messages
2
Location
United States
Hi
Just wanted to say that this could of been written for me, I feel like I’ve just read my own situation 😳
I’m literally so happy I came across this post.
There is always light at the end of a very dark, long tunnel.
And like you, the fact that the dentist has now seen inside my mouth - that I have been severely embarrassed of for most of my adult life - and there is now a plan....I just feel like huge weight has been lifted.
Thanks for posting this and huge HUGE good luck 😊 🤗
I'm so glad you stopped the cycle of shame, too! It's only up for us!!

Wanted to post now that my first appointment- and first ever dental work- was completed!
The difference between walking into the clinic the first time vs the second time might as well be on another plane of existence- I had already explained how after I opened my mouth for them to look at all my anxiety and shame disappeared but... wow, the difference.
I never felt any pain- just the slightest bit of discomfort from the rubber suction thing they put in your mouth (for a moment) and a slight touch of coldness from the drill. The injection? Didn't feel it. My dentist explained every single thing she was doing as she did it and what I would experience and that helped so much.
As she was drilling, I felt myself get anxious not from the feeling or sound but by thinking about exact WHAT was happening (the idea of someone drilling into your bones is terrifying) so I focused on breathing and distracting my thoughts. I also kept my eyes closed the whole time and that helped a lot.
The two fillings took about 50 minutes and it didn't feel that long at all. She told me that one of my fillings was a bit deep and could cause some discomfort as it healed, but I never experienced that. Honestly I feel so silly for all the grief I went through just to make that first phone call! If only I had known dentists could be so compassionate and kind and I could have summoned the courage to call years ago.... oh well.
For anyone reading this- the dentists these days are so different! You might still have a few bad ones, somewhere, but so many more have your best interests at heart. After all, if you walk out of there traumatized, ashamed, or angry you're probably not going to come back! And they want you to come back!
Thinking of it from a business standpoint helped me. This is a business- they fix teeth. Expecting them to judge you for the state of your teeth is like expecting someone to judge you for needing to buy a loaf of bread or getting your roof fixed.
 
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