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Trigger warning: eating disorder & mental health discussed



Junior member
Oct 1, 2020
I am somewhat of a mess, and feel emotionally exhausted. The anxiety around my teeth is really no different from any other way I tear myself apart - body, mind, etc. I suffer from shame based perfectionism (not a real diagnosis, but feels exactly right). My body is never good enough, my grades are never good enough, and so on.

I have compulsively checked my teeth along with my skin, shape, hair, nails, etc. But my teeth hold a power over me that feels somewhat debilitating still, despite steps forward in my ED/depression/anxiety/PTSD recovery.

Teeth terrify me on another level. Choices feel permanent as does damage. I experience intrusive images and thoughts about losing teeth, teeth cracking and crumbling, and my gums withering away.
I don't know how to be okay knowing that I may have caveties, and I obsess about how I should rwatict my eating (how my ED began) and do all the alternative treatments my mom believes in to achieve results dentists don't believe in.

That's the scariest part for me. I was taught to mistrust western medicine, including dentistry. So even as I feel desperate for connection and reassurance that it's okay if my teeth fall apart, I know a part of me will reject this message. I'll tell myself I just need to eat sunlight and "oil pull" and then I'll somehow grow my gums back. I'll tell myself that anything is possible with essential oils and reishi mushrooms.

Unfortunately, I am filled with deep mistrust, and I guess I just hope I'm not the only one out there who feels simultaneously terrified and unwilling to listen to the truth - "teeth don't always last forever, especially when you have an eating disorder, and especially when you can't afford to see a dentist."

I have to go to a school to see someone about my teeth. I've never done this before, and I'm very scared. I've heard horror stories about bad advice, and false diagnoses.

I have always done my best to take care of myself, despite everything, and I guess I see bad teeth as a badge of failure. But maybe it's not my fault. I try hard, but maybe teeth just get battered in life, just like everything else.
Hi and welcome to Dental Fear Central @Ladybug234. I see you are looking to go to a school to see someone for your teeth. The advantage, in many cases, is that you would at a minimum be seen by a student and a teacher. Having 2 advices should help you be more comfortable.

I don’t think you mentioned it, but it seems you haven’t see a dentist for a certain time. I think many of the things you are scared of regarding your teeth is caused by the fear of the unknown. Would having a dentist opinion regarding the state of your teeth help you? Even if you don’t believe them, at least getting an idea of the state of your teeth might help bring you to get other opinions and search for new solutions.

Regarding not trusting western medicine, do you think seeing an holistic dentist would make you have more trust in them?
Hi Ladybug234,

a warm welcome also from me. Thank your for sharing about your situation with us, I know these things are difficult.

It sounds like something is stressing you out currently and you feel exhausted. You have been dealing with particular mental issues and mad progress, but teeth seem to be an entirely different topic and causing you (another type?) of anxiety and obsession. I was wondering whether the feelings about teeth was something you always have been dealing with or whether it's new? I am not sure you know, but many people who suffer from PTSD/ ED/depression/anxiety struggle with teeth in one way or another.

If I got it right, you are seeing a dentist in your school and it will be your first time in a dental office? I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't be nervous before their first dental visit, be it kids or adults.. the fear of unknown, as geos mentioned. Would you like to share a bit of a background as what made you (or was it your mom) decide that you need a dentist now? And is there anything specific that you are afraid of? Sounds like you are somewhat expecting to need a lot of treatment?

All the best wishes
Thank you to you both. I wish I had more time to respond with more depth, but I know that it will just keep getting pushed to the bottom of my to-do list if I don't just respond now. I have never reached out about this specific insecurity before, and it has been truly validating and relieving to read articles here and to have responses from both of you. I felt so incredibly seen, and was able to recognize where this is stemming from. I tried calling my local dental school to make an appt, but they weren't taking messages, so I will try again tomorrow.
Again, I really wish I could thank you in more detail, because I so appreciated the depth of understanding you offered me, but know that hearing from you both helped me so much, and I feel ready to move forward with the mindfulness/acceptance tools I have learned for other areas of my life, without really thinking to apply here.
Thank you!