• Dental Phobia Support

    Welcome! This is an online support group for anyone with a fear of the dentist, dental phobia, or specific dental fears.

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Worried about my gums and my upcoming appointment

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Saveme

Junior member
Joined
Jul 13, 2012
Messages
19
Location
USA
Hi everyone! :waves: I doubt anyone will remember me, but I posted a few times here about ten years ago, back when I was dealing with getting my wisdom teeth out. At the time of my last post, everything was good for me. Unfortunately, things didn’t stay so good, and now I’m back hoping for some more support. I’m sorry for not sticking around last time. I was dealing with a lot of other things at the time, but I hope I can do better this time as I’d like to support others as well. Thank you!

Background: So long story short-ish (I’m bad at keeping things short), I have always had a low pain tolerance and been an anxious person in general, and then I had a really bad experience with my childhood dentist removing a wisdom tooth, which caused me a lot of fear and anxiety. I eventually found a dentist I liked and trusted, who removed my other three wisdom teeth using IV sedation. I thought my dental fear issues were under control because I had a dentist I could trust, and I knew I could have IV sedation if I ever needed anything else major done. Great! And it was great for about a year or so, until two things happened in quick succession: 1. My dentist and his wife had a child, so they moved away to be closer to family (which is great, I was happy for them, just sad that I needed to find a new dentist) and 2. I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune endocrine condition called Addison’s disease/adrenal insufficiency (basically, my adrenal glands died, so I don’t make cortisol and a few other important hormones) which needs special management for any kind of procedure, and I read that it is a contraindication for IV sedation. So me being me, I freaked out and didn’t see a dentist again for years, because what if something ever needed done and I couldn’t have IV sedation? :rolleyes:

I finally got up the courage to go see a dentist again back in 2018?19?, but I didn’t get a good feeling about the place. There were a few things that just didn’t seem right to me. I don’t want to give too much detail, but I really didn’t want to go back there, and it kicked my dental anxieties up a few notches higher than they already were. Anyway, they told me I had mild gingivitis at that time, but that it should go away after my cleaning. It didn’t. Then there was COVID and everything was shut down, and then around the time when dentists’ offices started opening up again, my family moved to another state and I had to get established with all new doctors and was busy dealing with a lot of appointments, which was very stressful in its own right.

Gosh, this is getting so long. I’m sorry. I’m trying to keep it short but failing. I had chipped a tooth (or so I thought) early on during the lockdowns and was very worried about that. I was eventually able to go see an awesome, amazing dentist who specializes in anxious patients and those with special needs and medical conditions (like me) about 8 months ago about that tooth. It turned out to be nothing but a chipped sealant, thank goodness. He told me I have strong, healthy teeth, and did not even comment on my gums. His office is hours and hours away though (took the whole day to go there and back), and I don’t drive, so he recommended getting a cleaning at a dentist local to me. But after getting up the courage to see him, it seemed like I was all out of courage. The thought of having to face another new dentist, after worrying about that chipped spot for over a year, and just having to see so many new doctors (I like them all, especially my new endocrinologist, but still, it was a lot of medical stress), made me cry. I couldn’t take any more medical stress at the time, I just couldn’t. I never made an appointment, and I regret it so much.

Current: About three weeks ago, my gums in front of my bottom front teeth seemed to get a lot worse over night. I have good dental hygiene (brush twice a day and floss once a day), and always have, but it’s been a few years since my last professional cleaning. My gums have been red in that area for years now. They seem to have receded a little as well. Now they feel kind of swollen and sore, when they never hurt at all before. I don’t see any blood when I brush and floss, but sometimes I think I taste a little blood. I’m afraid it may have progressed to something much worse than just mild gingivitis, and I may need some kind of painful treatment done. I seriously regret letting fear control me for so long. If I had found a new dentist right away and kept going for regular cleanings, I would not be in this boat today. Or even if I had gone 8 months ago. ☹️ I worry about my gums constantly. I look at them obsessively and worry that I may be hurting them more by not brushing or flossing the right way. It makes it hard to do anything. 😭😭😭

Anyway, I kept telling myself that I could either go get checked out now, better late than never, or I could live with this miserable fear for years. I mentioned this thought to my mom, who talked me into letting her make me an appointment with a local dentist here who has good reviews. I love my mom so much! She always has my back and will make those hard calls for me and support me. ❤️ But she sure got me in quick! It’s next week, and I’m really freaking out now. I wish there was something I could do to make me feel better. I can’t even sleep sometimes because I’m so worried that they are going to do something painful to me. I just can’t handle pain and fear like this. I feel like I just can’t take it. I’m sorry for rambling on so much. It feels good just to get all of this written down. Thank you to anyone who read all of this! Sorry again for being such a chatterbox!
 
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Kml1998

Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2021
Messages
45
Location
England
That is a good sign that there is no bleeding as that is a sign of gingivitis/gum disease if your gums are bleeding all the time when brushing. Maybe your anxiety is getting the best of you and making you think something is wrong when they may not be
 
S

Saveme

Junior member
Joined
Jul 13, 2012
Messages
19
Location
USA
Thank you, Kml1998. I really hope that is the case. It’s so hard to keep dealing with these anxieties. The fear of the unknown is the worst. Thank you for your reassurance.
 
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APhobicQueen

Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2022
Messages
33
Location
Canada
Wow, you sound lot a like me! Are we twins?

So I too have been obsessing over my teeth and gums, worrying that things are progressing and much worse than they probably are. I’ve been to a dentist, and I know what treatment I need, the problem is I currently can’t afford it. Blergh. Anyway, it’s always so scary when you‘re in this place of knowing you need some form of dental help, but not being able to just get it done (for whatever reason.) And that limbo really does create such a huge sense of fear. But look at you go! You let your mom make an appointment for you. That’s so amazing!

It’s also really great that you‘re continuing to look after your teeth. Again, I have been there. That’s what led to my teeth partially becoming as bad as they did in the first place. I was so scared of blood in my mouth and other things, that I stopped brushing and flossing for fear of making it worse. Believe me, it doesn’t make it worse, brushing and flossing is what’s preventing anything from getting worse. So continue to do that and pat yourself on the back every time you do. Even in a small way, you’re conquering fear by doing that.

As for your gums. You sound like me, when I brush occasionally I’ll get the odd smattering of blood, but mostly I get nothing. Absolutely nothing. And if you’re not getting blood every time you brush, that’s a really, really good sign. According to my dentist, there was nothing about periodontal disease on my file, so it sounds like you might just have a more severe form of gingivitis (if you’re anything like me.) Of course I can’t say for certain, but if you’re not in agony, and if you’re lacking that blood, and the fact you maintained an oral care routine? That’s really, really good for your chances.

Also something to remember: when we’re tense, or anxious, our muscles tend to lock up on us. Our body is also connected to itself in a lot of ways. For example, if you‘re anxious and your neck is tensing up, you might feel that in your jaw which in turn might make your teeth or gums feel sore because you have all this tension. You‘re essentially holding your body in a rigid form. I wish I had better advice than “take deep breaths” or “tense your muscles on purpose and then let them go slack” but really I find that’s what works for me. That and distracting myself with other things, or doing a little self massage.

Regret is such a strong thing for us to feel and when I was reading about yours, I felt like I was looking at myself. I too live in a lot of regret for my past actions and what I didn’t do. But here is the thing: it’s over now. You can’t go back to the past, as much as you’d like to. All you can do is focus on the future, what you can do here and now. You’ve posted on this forum which is a great start! You’ve got an appointment with a local dentist, you’ve got your mom, and you’re trying your hardest to conquer your fear. That’s really, really amazing. Don’t humble yourself at all for that accomplishment! Just think of this as the beginning of a new journey in your life, one that has the happiest of endings. Yeah, it’s going to take a bit to get there, and it won’t be easy, but you’re going to do it. You’re going to be okay. We’re all here rooting for you. You got this!
 
S

Saveme

Junior member
Joined
Jul 13, 2012
Messages
19
Location
USA
So, I had my appointment. Neither the hygienist nor the dentist were concerned by my gums. They said they were just a little bit irritated in that area from some tarter build up, which was removed during my visit (had quite a bit on my back teeth too). I got a good cleaning and was told to keep doing what I’ve been doing (brushing and flossing). My gums do feel way better, look less swollen and are looking a bit lighter in color. Everyone at the office was so nice, from the moment I walked in the front door, I felt welcome and cared about. They even had TVs on the ceiling that you can watch while in the chair. I have already made my next appointment for six months. I’m sure I’ll be nervous again then, but hopefully with time, some of that fear might fade. I can hope anyway!

I actually wasn’t even going to come back here and post a follow up because I was so ashamed of myself. Here I was wasting people’s time with what turned out to be basically nothing, when so many people on here are dealing with real issues. But when I came back to delete my post (which doesn’t seem possible?), I saw your reply. You’re so kind! It took me a while to process, but I couldn’t leave your incredibly thoughtful and comforting message sitting without a response. I guess the truth is, this is a dental fear site, and I definitely have that, even if I still kind of want to hide my head in the sand. It’s amazing what being scared can make you believe. It’s happened to me twice now, with the chip and my gums. It’s amazing how fear and anxiety can take over a person. I mean, yes, there were some tiny real things wrong (chipped sealant and irritated gums), but they were not nearly as bad I was convinced they were going to be. I believe you’re absolutely right about tension. It can have such a strong effect. Thank you for sharing your ideas and insights with me and others here on the board.

I truly hope that you will be able to get the dental care that you need soon. I’m sorry that you have to keep living in that place of fear and obsession with your teeth and gums because you can’t afford the care you need right now. It’s not fair or an easy place to be. Please keep doing your best to take care of yourself as you have been, and know that I am wishing you all the best. I hope one day you can rest easy knowing that your mouth is okay after your treatment is completed. Big Internet hugs to my dental fear twin! :hug4:
 
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