When I was a kid, I had a horrible dentist and my dad was very aggressive in checking on my brushing (pulling my lips open to check my teeth like I was a horse for sale). This started my fears of both dentists and teeth and I let them build. When I was in college and off my parent’s insurance, I had an accident as a camp councillor that broke the top rear molars on both sides in half. I sucked it up, never really told anyone (what good would it do? I didn’t have my own insurance at the time and I didn’t want my parents to worry) and the pain eventually went away. This fed the fear though, as those teeth got worse. Eventually, I couldn’t get a toothbrush close to my mouth without throwing up for years.
I eventually got married and was comfortable enough to share my issues with my wife. She didn’t judge me and just last night told me that while she worried about me, my teeth, and my overall health, she wanted to gently encourage and build up my confidence and not nag because she didn’t want it to have a negative effect. She’s where my healing started. It was through her gentle encouragement and through having our daughter and wanting better for her than what I was going through, I was able to start, every so often, getting a toothbrush into my mouth. My wife let me know that she noticed that I was trying to take control and encouraged me to keep going. That was about a year ago.
I’ve not ever been scared of medical doctors, so, when I started having horrible pain that was in my cheek, ear, and teeth, I went to urgent care. If I had government secrets, I would have talked. They instantly diagnosed me with a raging sinus infection. I was given antibiotics, steroids, and life was good again. This cycle, never quite as bad, continued for two and a half months before I was sent to an ENT who had a CT scan of my sinuses done. This showed my broken teeth and how one was directly below the lingering infection.
I was told to go to a dentist and have the tooth removed. I, somehow, managed to hold it together in the doctor’s office but burst into tears when I called my wife. She thought they had found cancer but understood and comforted me. I remember her saying, “We’ll do this together… eventually.” I stayed awake the whole night. The next day, I was fretting about the whole thing and was talking to an understanding coworker and decided I would Facebook my wife’s dentist about my issues. A call just seemed too much. Of course, they responded to my Facebook message with message to call them.
It was hard but I wanted to put it all behind me and started to realized I was tired of being scared.
I made the call, and the receptionist was amazing and understanding, inviting me to come by for a tour and to meet my dentist. I was shaking the whole time, but I did it and actually held a bit of a conversation with the dentist about why I was there, my fears, and even just a bit of small talk. It helped alleviate my fears a little bit. We made an appointment for a consult on Monday, July 9.
On the day of the appointment, the kind receptionist came out and sat with me until they called me back. They took X-rays which I remembered from years before not being too bad and managed to breathe through them. The results were what I was afraid of. I was utterly convinced that all my teeth were going to need to be extracted and at 36 I’d have dentures and get the world’s worst lecture. I was embarrassed and scared of the price and about 200 other things.
The dentist was kind. She said that while there were issues, it wasn’t the worst and this was what she was here for. I needed work, which she assumed I knew. I needed some extractions, 3 and not everything. Two were the teeth that had been broken for about 15 years. I had a lot of teeth that needed fillings, though. They wanted to do all the fillings on one side and all the extractions even though they were on both sides of my mouth. I told them that my wife and daughter were leaving at the end of the week, and there was no way I could go through all of this with them gone. They scheduled the appointment for yesterday. I burst into tears at the thought of it being so close and at the thought of the cost but was thankful that they managed to make it before my family, my rock, left. They called in a prescription of Halcion to help me the day of, hoping that it would give me amnesia of the procedure.
Between the consult and yesterday, I freaked out daily. I managed to find this website which helped so much, especially the post about not being embarrassed and being worth it. I woke up yesterday morning, took the second dose of the medicine and had a strange peace. I know a lot of that was brought on by the meds, but some of it was the fact that those posts led me to really not wanting to be afraid anymore. I was able to go through the procedure yesterday (with some more help from nitrous) and I remember most everything, even the fact that one of the broken teeth was so hard to get out that she only removed two of the three so I didn’t get so traumatized. I was later able to joke with my wife that the roots must have been so long they went to my brain. I don’t know how I was able to make the joke, but it made her feel better about me… though I was drugged out of my gourd and as she put it, wandering like a big toddler.
They left today and thankfully I am well enough that everyone feels good about me being alone. I have to go to the office on Tuesday for a check-up. I’m nervous but not as bad as I have been before. I genuinely feel like I’m making progress and so does the dentist and her staff. She told my wife that she was confident that we could get to the point where I wouldn’t need nitrous for a cleaning. I actually believe that can happen and that yesterday was a big step towards that goal and a lot of it is thanks to this page and the wonderful people here.
Story 10 of 24