No longer living in fear of trips to the dentist
Hello all, I have just joined this forum as I feel compelled to post after reading some of the stories of desperation. No one could be more desperate than I was, I will give you equally as desperate but certainly not more desperate ? .
I too had daily thoughts about lots of different ways I could resolve my problem, and not one of them included a dentist. I thought it was just me, seriously, can you believe that no doubt you probably can. I couldn’t hear the word dentist without having a panic attack. I would walk away from conversations if I even thought there was a chance of them turning to teeth. I couldn’t contemplate making any sort of appointment as it would mean thinking about the dentist, I even walked out a film once because the main character was a dentist and there was just too much focus on him (Ghost Town ? ). I could keep going but I won’t as you probably have experienced all the same feelings, fears and anxieties that I have.
However, the overriding fear for me was not really the pain of the procedures or the pain of the injections or the fact I was likely to have to have them all extracted; my overriding fear was the embarrassment of it all, my mouth was a disgrace. With very focused and logical thought and giving myself a good talking to I could probably think of allowing the dentist into my mouth but the thought of his pretty young assistant having a good look also was just too much and pushed me right back to square one.
Right, some info on my teeth, what a mess they were after years and years of neglect, a good dose of gum disease, lots of bits broken off, missing chunks of tooth and two lower front lost at the same time in an incident with a burger just this year. I had not had a girlfriend for years, and all in all these mangled useless relics in my mouth were ruining my life and making me very miserable. My low point was when I found a pack of extra strong mints in my drawer at work, now that really freaked me out but also focused me on knowing I had to do something.
Btw, I’m not some sort of tramp. I have a good job, a decent car, a lovely home and a lovely family but where my mouth was concerned it was no go.
I proceeded to set myself targets, the first target was to find a dentist and I had a week to compile a list of likely candidates. I put it off to the very last minute but did it by the deadline. I then gave myself a week to read their websites and testimonials and decide on who was going to be the lucky practice. I found one which sounded fantastic, everything was painless this and painless that, a well-written section on dental phobias and understanding and for the first time I sort of believed I might just be able to do this. I sent them an email explaining how nervous I was due to years of neglect blah blah blah and sat anxiously waiting for a caring coaxing reply but it never came. I now had no idea what to do so I plucked up the courage, got the list I had prepared and ……. set my mum on the case.
She rang every place on the list and no one had any NHS places but she wouldn’t let it go there, now to me that was a good excuse to stop and walk away but not to her. It turned out she set my dad the task of looking at local dentists on the net and they made me an appointment for the following day at the very dentist I wrote the email to and not gotten a reply. I made her cancel it immediately and re-book it for the following week, 1 days notice was just too soon.
On the day of the appointment, I drove from my work in London to a village near home (North East) and was having kittens and this was only a check-up. I got there 15 minutes early and sat in my car for what seemed like an hour.
On entering (deep breath) I was given forms to fill out, I could hardly hold the pen let alone write so the receptionist helped me. I got in to see the dentist shortly after and he stopped my pre-prepared speech in mid-flow and assured me he was fine with whatever he found, he had no doubt seen worse. It turned out he probably hadn’t seen much worse because after a good feel around (no metal, just thumbs) and an X-ray he showed me my gums were so receded there wasn’t an awful lot he could do apart from take them all out. He did point out a couple that he may have been able to save but I just said ‘what’s the point’ and he agreed.
I set up an initial 6 appointments to have them all out (nightmare !!!) and was told my first one was in 3 weeks time due to his going on holiday. I wasn’t sure if this was a good thing or a bad thing. Anyway, I have now had 2 six tooth extraction appointments and here are my findings.
Firstly by getting over the initial embarrassment, you have crossed the greatest barrier of all. Secondly, my next slight worry (the injections) I did not feel at all. He spent quite some time freezing my gums, and when the needle did eventually go in, I absolutely felt nothing. This is not me exaggerating to make you less anxious – I literally braced myself but felt nothing. He proceeded to remove 6 teeth in less than a minute (front loose ones). I had been working on the calculation of 1 tooth per minute with 30 seconds in between. Even when I was stuck in the chair biting on a swab, I couldn’t believe it was all over (for now). Conclusion – I was still very nervous going into this appointment, starting on the journey as it had all became very real but walked out numb, pain-free and elated.
Yesterday I had my second appointment – a further six teeth top left. For this he seemed to numb me up a lot more for what I expected to be an epic struggle, 2-3 mins a tooth with a 30-second breather in between. Although it did take longer than the lower front (as expected) within 5 mins once again I was sat biting the swab. Bit more blood (obviously) but if anything even less of an ordeal then the front (less nerves and more relaxed on my part). Conclusion – I was not at all nervous getting to this appointment and only got slightly nervous just before he started to pull my teeth because they were bigger and more rooted then the fronts – again walked out numb but elated.
I now have a further 4 appointments, and although I am not delighted at the prospect of these trips, I am no longer living in any sort of fear about them. I’ve read lots of statements on here from people saying the worst thing that could happen to them is having to wear dentures. Well in my experience, the worst thing that could happen to me is to go another decade with my real teeth, and although not the sexiest of ways to accessorise, it’s a damned sight nicer then what they are replacing.
Finally, I know I have rambled on, but I just want people like me to take the first step just like I did. I used to tell myself it was like eating a frog, not very nice but will only go away once you’ve finished it, In the end, I found the only frog-eating bit was actually getting there in the first place !!
All the best to all of you, if I can do it so can you.