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Went to my first appointment after 10 years, I left anxious, depressed and broke



Junior member
Sep 5, 2021
Note: I knew this was going to be a long-term journey, this forum has been extremely helpful but I'll explain how my appointment went. Please don't let it trigger because it wasn't the worst experience of my life, most parts were absolutely fine considering this was just the initial appointment and everyone has different anxieties. The anxiety I had was something I didn't expect and I don't see it often mentioned here. I also remembered something from 10 years ago. I'll explain.

I walked in, the receptions were kind, I felt calmer than I imagined I'd be. The hygienist assistance called me in. Generally speaking, she was nice. She asked me to explain why I was there, I mentioned pain around my bottom left molars. She asked me if I was on any medication and I gave her my list of meds, she was happy about that and told me she wished more patients would do this. Awesome! She goes to make a copy, comes back and she then proceeded with the main x-rays. I only remember one hurting a little. To me, it wasn't a big deal at all. I was afraid I would gag or it would be painful, nope.

She gets the x-rays and goes, "Whoa. Yeah, I can see why you're hurting." I nervously laughed. There wasn't really much of a wait before the hygienist AND doctor came in. The hygienist was super nice. The doctor seemed nice, not much older than me, very straight forward. The doctor started looking at my x-rays and discussing things with the hygienist. The doctor begins to exam my mouth with those typical metal tools, the mirror and the scraper thing. He's calling out things things code on which number. I was fine, I kept my cool. This is normal.

Then he starts speaking with me, and speaking really fast. I felt it was that point to politely interrupt and let him know I have dental phobia. His response was, "Ok. With what?" and I started going down the list, everything from pain, not being numbed enough, the sounds and he says, "So everything basically. Ok, that's fine, we have options to help you with that". I told him I took anti-anxiety medication so I might be a bit tolerant to benzodiazepines. He responds, "Ok" and goes back to forming his treatment plan. I forgot to mention the one anxiety issue that may not be addressed as much here but I'll get to that.

I should also mention besides the hygienist asking for my medication, there were no questions from any of the staff about smoking, drinking, diet, how often I brushed, how often I flossed, other health problems. I had all of these answers ready, no lies, just the cold hard truth and nothing like that was addressed.

So he continues his examination, he's calling out so many different things. I'm getting a little nervous but I remind myself this is going to be a long journey, I'm doing the right thing now. The first thing I was told is that I needed a "Gross debridement" cleaning today which isn't your typical cleaning. I didn't get a typical cleaning. After that, he mentions I'll need another kind of serious cleaning in 6 months. My gums were surprisingly not terrible, but he mentioned there was no quite a bit of decay and infection that needed to be taken care of.

Then came the heavy hitters, 6 extractions, a few root canals, cavities, I sheepishly uttered, "yikes" and the dentist shrugged and said, "Well, after 10 years..." then he went on, mentioned I still had some widsom teeth that might not need extraction, and then I ask him, "Will I need partial dentures?", and he replies, "It could be an option down the line, but another alternative is implants".

At that point I was feeling low, I was expecting to feel low. I told him, "that's a lot of stuff" and again he shrugs and says, "After 10 years, this happens but our goal is to get all of that taken care of". The hygienist is writing all of this stuff down and I stupidly ask, "this is going to cost a lot, huh?", and she frowns at me and says, "unfortunately, yeah". Then I open my mouth again and say, "thousands?", she replies, "oh yeah, definitely in the thousands, possibly tens of thousands but we need to look at your savings plan", the doctor stepped in and reminded me, "this is going to happen a long period of time so you can try to apply for [some other savings plan that can 'potentially work' with my savings plan].

Then I ask him about the pain, "you mentioned there was infection but I'm still in pain, should I stay on Amoxicillin or is there a different type of antibiotic that may work better?", he sucked his teeth; "there's not really anything I can do about the pain, you need to have these teeth extracted", he didn't answer my question about a different antibiotic or suggest an OTC pain relief routine. He wrote me the referral cards for the extractions, and asked, "do you have any other questions?" That fear of shame, and being in my early 30's, needing partial dentures really stuck with me, then over $10,000 for all this treatment?

Now I was in the hygienist's hands. My god, she was so nice. I opted for the $35 oral cancer screening, I was fine. Very easy, very quick, nothing at all to be afraid of. Then I have my gross debridement cleaning (btw: this is "a dental cleaning procedure that is often administered by a dentist in order to determine if there are any teeth issues that were not initially noticed before the dental cleaning." - Google)

Again, it was actually insanely quick, there was a tiny bit of pain but absolutely nothing I couldn't handle. I imagine this is an easier cleaning than the frequent oral routine cleaning because I remember those taking much longer and needing polish and all that. This was different.

She then asks me if I want to do my panoramic x-ray today. I should have said no. Not because it cost nearly $400, because I needed it but because they had the dental hygienist assistant do it. She was the one who did basic x-rays, and again, she was chill but I was expecting the dentist to perform this one. I'm a tall guy so she was really struggling with getting me into the proper place, so she had me sit on a stool (I think you usually do this standing up). There were a total of 4 that needed to be done, I ended up having to do several more than that. I even suggested to her, "maybe if I lower the stool?" and she responds, "oh yeah, that might work". The other dentist on duty popped in and asked if everything was ok, and she said yes. I'm assuming she did good enough. I received a CD-ROM to look at them myself but oddly enough, I don't own a CD-ROM drive or know anyone who does.

Anyway, that procedure is interesting, for me, it was no sweat. I'm a bit claustrophobic and it wasn't that bad besides having to do it multiple times.

So that's it, I paid around $700 that day for the gross debridement, oral cancer screening, and pano x-ray. But the treatment plan listed all the prices, even with discounts included, ~$12,000+ if uninsured, ~$7,000+ with my payment plan, but that doesn't include the extractions from an oral surgeon or down the line procedures, partial dentures, I think he mentioned he wanted to fix spacing on the top.

I honestly thought the extractions would be performed by the DDS because it says they do extractions on their website but you do have to find your own oral surgeon for them. That's kind of how I remembered it when I had one of my wisdom teeth it out but it would be super convenient if they could have just scheduled me to get this problem tooth out.

My problem with finding an oral surgeon is; they're booked until December on, or they don't accept my savings plan. So now I'm going through all these new savings plans to compare prices on extractions and finding one that takes a discount plan and I'm struggling with that. The pain only comes back after my dose of 800mg advil wears off. It's not the pain I experienced in the beginning of all of this which was a 9-10, without advil/tylenol+both, it's around 4-6, and I don't want to keep taking so much advil, or tylenol, especially not tylenol but 800mg of advil is what works, even then there's some pain.

So my anxiety and depression all came from the financial aspect of this entire thing. I don't make enough for all of these treatments, but I DO want to get on the path of having healthy teeth. There's no other dentist that will give me a second opinion because that one office is the only that takes tier 1 of my discount plan.

Pros of the visit:

- Staff were kind
- I didn't feel as afraid as I thought I'd be in that chair
- Was afraid of x-rays, sounds, air, and pain but there was nothing to indicate that that I felt like I wasn't in control
- Hygienist was excellent
- Doctor didn't seem like a bad guy, seemed knowledgeable, responded to my concerns about anxiety


- No one asked me about social habits, diet, smoking, medical conditions
- Doctor seemed like he was in a rush
- Hygienist assistant did my pano x-rays when I was expecting doctor to

Overall, I left the dentist depressed because I'll never be able to afford what needs to be done and then... as I was walking out, I remembered the exact same setting, like a lost memory, I walked out of this same dentist office 10 years ago in my 20's because I was told I needed several root canals, and fillings at the time. I felt the SAME way, overwhelmed by the amount of procedures except I was younger and the amount of procedures I actually needed at THAT time, 10 years ago, were being exaggerated and that makes me a bit upset too. At that time, I was trying to pay for my college courses and barely getting by with that. I HAD dental insurance, even though it wasn't great. I could have had the suggested work over time but there was this urgency that the dentist pushed on me, and I remember her now because she was the other dentist on duty that day. Once I saw her, I remembered her shaking her head at me while she was writing some script for Tylenol 3 (I had a toothache and my wisdom teeth were giving me problems) 10 years ago while I was checking out and decided not to reschedule for a root canal right away.

I definitely did have anxiety issues before that, I never liked going to the dentist but I remembered my reasons for not returning those 10 years ago and very clearly now. I did go to have a wisdom tooth extracted after that and I remember that too. They gave me laughing gas and I told them to take it off, I didn't like feeling spacey and I asked for novocain. I never got any of the treatment that doctor recommended but I got a wisdom tooth taken out and I don't remember it being a big deal.

Anxiety is weird, I started to remember certain things yesterday. I may not be as afraid of dental procedures as I think I am, maybe my main anxiety was the money, even with a full time job trying to pay for my college courses.

The question is how I handle the 10 years now. Are all these treatments really necessary, am I going to keep going with this or end up with full dentures are 40? And should I start thinking about robbing a bank?
Are you near a dental school? People can usually get work there for quite a bit less, and the training dentists work under established dentists.
I truly know how bad and tiring the financial worry over teeth is. I think many of us could go on with our lives much better were it not for that. Teeth need to be covered like any other part of the body, especially since they don't heal on their own.
The only advice I can offer is this:
Get a 2nd opinion. Like anything else, make sure these procedures are essential. Do not tell the 2nd dentist what the first said. You want to know that 1st treatment plan was legit.
Look for dentists offering specials on first consults, xrays, etc.
If you qualify, look for income based clinics to do the things like cleaning and simple extractions. Even if you only do a tooth at a time, it is progress!
Whatever you do, get started. Even in stops in starts as finances will allow. Do not get to the point where you truly have no options left to save your mouth.
Hi, so sorry to hear that things didn't go as well as you had hoped.

In the US, it's usually best to stay away from chains or cheap dental discount plans, as overtreatment can be pretty rampant (@comfortdentist has posted here repeatedly on this issue). We've got some more information on financing dental treatment in the US here:

We've also collected some tips here for choosing a dentist:

Getting a second opinion from a dentist who comes highly recommended might be your best way forward?
Thank you very much!
I’m in a similar boat I just went back after over 10 years. After I had a broken tooth that blew up the side of my jaw like a ? had a root canal that I was petrified of much less the dentist and how bad my teeth are. Found out in July it failed. I have 3 teeth in a row that need root canals or extractions. And another that has such a deep cavity it’s broke big time. So I have my extractions with Sedation this week and I’m still petrified. I’d get a second opinion. Take care of the ones that need to be extracted first and get rid of the infection. See if you can get on a cancellation list. Or a college dental school? Is it bad if actually rather have dentures and be done with it. Just spit my teeth out and be done? I’m taking old school glue kind. Not the implants or fancy ones. I hope you find some relief in knowing you're not alone. And another opinion don’t give up yet!