Personal Stories of Anxiety Disorders and Dental Phobia

Successful impacted wisdom tooth extraction – using local anaesthetic

by Claire

I feel like I read every inch of this site, and most posts leading up to my wisdom tooth extraction – which was so helpful! So I thought I would post how mine went to hopefully help anyone that is in a similar situation.  

I have generalised anxiety, and a dentist visit, let alone treatment is a definite trigger! But, severe pain and recurrent infections with my impacted (horizontal) wisdom tooth – which I’ve known about for years…and put off, was enough for me to at least try and get over the fear! 

A long story short – I had an emergency dental appointment with a dentist I’d not been to before, who after taking an x-ray confirmed my wisdom tooth definitely needed to come out – it was partially showing and decayed (gross). The dentist was ready to go with the anaesthetic, but all the irrational anxious thoughts came flooding – what if I’m allergic to the anaesthetic, what if my throat feels numb and I can’t breathe, along with a racing heart, hot flashes and shallow breathing. My flight response definitely won and I left, feeling deflated and annoyed that I’d let my anxiety get the better of me again, especially for something as important as my health. 

I rescheduled the appointment for 2 days later, and the same thing happened… I had an overwhelming belief that I couldn’t do it, that I would panic midway and not ‘find my breath’. At that point living in pain, missing more work, and putting my health at risk for further infections seemed like a much better manageable option. All rational thought went out the window.

Luckily the dentist was so understanding, which helped enormously and suggested that I wait until sedation is available again (post covid), but as no date is known for this, I knew I couldn’t wait indefinitely in pain.

They then offered me an afternoon appointment for that day. I accepted, but was in tears driving back home, I had just under an hour at home before I had to leave again, and knew if I went back, it had to be done. It wasn’t fair to take up all these appointments when they are in such demand… so finally I managed to go through with it!

Overall it took about 1 & 1/2 hours to remove and if I had known that beforehand I wouldn’t have even booked the appointment, but honestly, it wasn’t as scary or as bad as I had built it up to be.

Things that really helped me (eventually) feel able to do it:

  • Reading this website and posts, knowing I’m not the only one that thinks and feels like this! (I was re-reading it in the waiting room)
  • When physical symptoms of anxiety started to emerge, I told myself to just go with it, they won’t kill me. If you’re like me it sometimes feels like each bit of anaesthetic exacerbates palpitations, I just told myself this will pass. 
  • I’d been practising ‘belly breathing’ and placed my hand on my belly, telling myself if I can feel it rise and fall I will be ok.
  • I visualised places I had practised this breathing technique over the last week, and I visualised walking in my local area trying to picture every detail.
  • Beforehand, I let the dentist know exactly what I was anxious about, and they were great in explaining everything, and we established I could raise my hand at any point and they would stop, amazingly this only happened once!
  • I kept internally telling myself that I’m ok, I’m safe, trained professionals are in control doing something they do daily.

I really, really believed that I couldn’t do this and that I would stop every minute, and maybe not even manage to stay until they had finished it. It’s so easy to say all this once it’s over, but it’s never as bad as anxiety builds it up to be. At the time it’s horrible, and so unbelievably difficult to overcome the doubts and feeling of being overwhelmed but you can do it! I hope this is helpful to someone and not too much of a ramble! 

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