• 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.

    Register now to access all the features of the forum.

Will things ever get better?

  • Thread starter SalamanderPalagander
  • Start date


Junior member
Apr 20, 2023
New to the forum but have been reading over posts for the past few days and finally decided to post something. In hope of some support, kind words or sharing of experiences.

I’m 26 and have been too laid back with my oral health. There’s a number of reasons for this, but ultimately it is my own fault and responsibility and I know this I’m just beginning to process this properly. I neglected myself for years, and I’m only just realising this and coming to terms with the reason why I couldn’t and didn’t look after myself. I’m really ready to change all of this now, and I’m ready to take control of my oral health and life in general, one step at a time.

I went to the dentist after an overdue annual check-up, and they informed me I needed Root Canal Treatment, which I’ve known for a year but have stupidly being delaying and delaying due to finances mainly. I initially booked this in a week ago then rescheduled due to complete anxiety and having a melt down. I am now rebooked in for this and a filling, and also a hygienist appointment as my dentist informed me I have gingivitis, which I am also terrified about. Now I’m experiencing cold sensitivity on another tooth with an old filling, and have convinced myself this tooth will need extracting. Overall I’m just panicking over every little thing.

This is really beginning to consume me, to the point where it is impacting my work, my relationship, my sleep, and my day-to-day functioning. I know all of this is my own fault, and in no way am I looking for sympathy however I have no where else really to turn with this as I do not want to burden my partner or family.

Mainly my goal is to be happy and healthy, and my teeth and mouth are really bringing me down in every aspect of my life. I’d appreciate any support or words of encouragement with this from anyone.
Hi and have some support from me. If I can be blunt I think you are being a bit hard on yourself which I have found doesn’t help (or it didn’t help me anyway!). You need to do the opposite and be kind to yourself instead. Whatever the reasons were, they existed, and it takes a big amount of courage I think to take that first step.

I hadn’t been to the dentist for many years either until I absolutely needed to, then eventually found a dental practice who specialises in nervous and phobic patients … which is just as well as I’ve needed some major treatment since! I hope your dentist is equally sympathetic because I have found that helps no end.

Things my dentist helped me work out is:

Take one step at a time and, if possible, think of one appointment at a time. They usually give you a list of suggested treatment in the UK. Remember – the choice is always yours. The dentist is there to advise you not instruct you.

Work out what helps you during an appointment. Some people like to hear about everything that is going to happen. I am the opposite – I want the dentist and assistant to chatter about anything apart from what they are doing. I also like background music. Anything to distract me. And I practice relaxation breathing. Do whatever helps you and tell your dentist what will help you.

I have a signal with my dentist – she will stop for me to take a break when I raise my hand.

Just some ideas to start with ... I know it’s hard to think when you are not sleeping through stress.

I’m sure you wouldn’t be a burden to your partner or family if you told them or asked for support if you think that would help. If you were my son (you are younger than my youngest) I would want to know so I could support you. Equally if you prefer to do things alone because other people talking about it makes you feel more nervous (it does me for some reason – I feel less stressed when I have only got to worry about myself), that is also fine.

I have had a whole series of hygienist appointments for advanced gum disease, had one filling but have decided not to have any more and I had a tooth removed rather than root canal. But that is what worked best for me. You may be better off with the root canal treatment and filling, especially if your gingivitis is in the early stages. Discuss it with your dentist - ask them what they think and why they recommend something. Then take time to think about it if you want so you feel in control of any decisions.

Many best wishes for your first appointment. Be extra kind to yourself. You are stressed, you are scared, you aren’t sleeping … and you are trying to do it all alone. I’m sure you will reach your goal. Taking those first steps and making appointments is absolutely nerve wracking when you do it for the first time and you’ve done that : )
Thank you so much @HedgieGoLightly for your kind words and support, it’s really appreciated!

I think you are right I do tend to be harsh on myself, something I’ve struggled with forever, and also overthink every little detail. I’ve been so worried and stressed that my neglect had caused too much damage to my teeth (one had started to hurt and had become decayed hence the RCT) and this just sent me over the edge.

I quite like the idea of music or background music, this could be something I ask when I next go in, just to distract me more than anything. I’ve got my first hygienist appointment next week and then my RCT in May, and the wait / anticipation is making it a lot worse.

One step at a time I will get there, but all I’m trying to do now is take more positive proactive steps.
Glad you found it useful. I’ve found it really helps to go from ‘this is now’ (rather than look back) and to take one step forward at a time from ‘now’.

My current dentist has music/a radio they can put on if they know you like it. If yours doesn’t you could take music in yourself and play through earbuds if that would help? It’s good you’ve got a hygienist appointment first because you can use that visit to work out things that help you while you are there. Tell them you are nervous/phobic if you haven’t already and hopefully they will be supportive – most are if they know.

I’m sure you will get there. I did – even if I did have a few ‘hiccups’ along the way! Many best wishes for your next appointment.
I understand the delaying tactic! I've put my RCT off for around a year.
The tooth was absolutely fine until a filling fell out, then I had that redone but decay was left behind, I assumed that's why the pain didn't go away, but a private dentist said it would result in RCT and a crown if the filing she did didn't resolve it.. it didn't. I've not been able to properly use it, it hurts if I do, but now it's sensitive to cold and I'm aware of it all the time... I've put this off due to expense but mainly fear. I've got to face up to it now. I just need to know who my new dentist is and if I'm happy with them.. something else to worry about!

I'm notoriously difficult to get numb, I need anesthesia without adrenaline and that wears off quickly, knowing the RCT is over an hour I'm struggling to understand how I'll possibly stay numb.. I'm utterly terrified.

I totally understand how it takes over your life though. I started trying to sort my teeth many years ago, it's been one tooth after another and I can't get away from either the pain, worry or just general depressive thoughts about the situation and the fact I'm not that old and need to keep these painful teeth for the rest of my life. It's the last thing I think about at night, first in the morning and it's affected every event, birthday, Christmas and holiday for about 10 yrs.. I never make any plans and everytime someone asks me to do something I always think "what if I get another toothache" . That said, you sound more determined than me and you don't appear to have that many issues - your dentist has a plan. Mine never have. I sort one issue and another appears, all my family, bar one person, has awful teeth.

Up untill this point decay and issues were contained to the back so in total I've had 10 teeth pulled, now it's progressing to the visible teeth so I'm forced to get RCT.

Things have helped in the past; music/headphones, putting eucalyptus oil or olbus oil near my nose - I hate the smells (!) Or lavender (relaxing) on a handkerchief/tissue. I like praise, it just helps, I'm not interested in knowing whats going on, it only makes me panic/paint mental pictures, but telling me I'm doing well makes me think I am even if I don't feel like it! Also keeping my eyes shut helps.

Try to be kind to yourself, it is what it is and your reasons for getting here isn't something to punish yourself over (I wasn't taught the importance of brushing,I also went through a deep depression and I didn't know what could cause cavities etc, I just wasn't taught, it's not like today)... You've got your reasons and that's that, you can't go back so why make yourself feel even worse. Youre trying to get back on track and that counts for something - so be proud of yourself for that. You'll get there xx
@HedgieGoLightly Definitely, looking forward is the only way to go and I know this even though it can certainly be difficult sometimes.

I will talk to the hygienist before starting, as this will be the first appointment I’ve had in a long time so I’ll certainly be nervous and worries in equal measure. It’s a positive step in the right direction though!

Thank you so much for your support and kind words. I’ll try to bear them in mind for my appointments and journey in general.
Last edited:
@Nicci Thank you so much for your support and also sharing your experiences too!

I’m sorry to hear about how much you’ve struggled too and totally get the anxiety and worry. I hope things are getting better for you now?

I’m frustrated as I have already had 2 appointments rearranged and changed just out of fear (from my behalf) and changing my mind between a RCT and extraction. If I would have stuck with my initial decision I would have had this done three weeks ago rather than waiting two more weeks! But I made my decision and that’s that, I can only look forward now.

I often feel that’s it’s the anticipation and the build up towards my appointments that makes me feel almost sick! The music idea is a really good one and one a few people have suggested, so this is something I’ll speak to my dentist about 100%.

I am determined and want to make things better for myself, and that’ll drive me to go to my appointments and be honest with myself and my dentist also.

Thank you again for your support and kind words, it means a lot.