I have been reading this website for over six months and using it to help me overcome my phobia of the dentist. I have hidden this fear from everyone except my husband for a long time, and even now I still don’t want to admit to my friends that I never went to the dentist for over 30 years. The reason I am now posting is that the help I have found in reading the posts on this site has been so much that I feel I should give something back and let everyone know that there is hope that you can overcome your phobia, no matter how long you have had it for.
For over 30 years, I didn’t go to the dentist as I was too scared. I have had all the problems you might expect as a result of this – pain (lots of it), abscesses, broken teeth, decay, bad breath, etc., but none of would make me see a dentist. As the years had gone on, embarrassment became a big factor. The thought of letting someone see what a mess my mouth was made me feel so ashamed. Most of the problems were at the back, and I just avoided anything to do with dentists. The very idea made me feel physically sick.
I think I must have thought about my teeth almost every day. Worrying something might happen. Looking back it is still one of my big regrets that I wasted so much emotional energy on keeping my fear of the dentist alive.
Then a tooth near the front broke, and I found myself in what I thought was the worst situation I had ever been in. I could leave it and everyone would know I never went to the dentist as they would see my broken decayed tooth – or I could go and have it sorted. It felt like catch 22. I didn’t want to do either. That’s when I found this site and read all the inspiring stories and reports of people who overcame great fear and had the treatment they needed.
I found the list of recommended dentists and rang one who is not too far from where I live. I could barely speak on the phone as I was choked with tears trying to make the appointment. Looking back, I would say it was fortunate that they had a cancellation for the very next morning at 9 am, or I might have talked myself out of it if I had had longer to wait.
I don’t want to go into all the stuff that needed done – as when I was reading other people’s success stories I couldn’t face the bits which had too much detail of dental procedures. However, the fact is that from the end of last year until now, I have worked my way through all the things that need done so that now I am nearly at the end. I do not fear the dentist at all now. It can make me feel a bit funny just before I go in if I’m having something done I’ve not had done before, but now I don’t dwell on it in the days weeks beforehand.
I wanted to give you my main thoughts on what has allowed me to get to this stage – a place I thought after 30 years I could NEVER be:
- Find the right dentist. Mine is so kind and sympathetic and understanding about my fear that I almost feel I owe it to him after helping me so much to make sure my teeth end up as good as they can be and that I look after them.
- If sedation is on offer – go for it. I am over my fear, but I am not particularly brave and would recommend nitrous oxide to anyone. I have had it even just for fillings.
- Try not to let the negative thoughts take over. When I didn’t go to the dentist, I could imagine all sorts of things that might happen and how bad it would be. I can honestly say nothing that has ever happened at the dentist has been as bad as my imagination had painted it.
- The fear of the dentist is worse than the dentist. I still feel sad thinking about how scared I was and how I allowed this fear to take over and prevent me having my teeth fixed. When you are alone and worrying about things, it seems very black – but when you are at the dentist and some kind person is with you and reassuring you, you are not afraid. The feelings at the dentist are not the same as the fear that stopped me going to the dentist, and are in no way as bad.
- Don’t underestimate the joy and relief of just taking that step and visiting the dentist. When I was worrying and fearful, I didn’t think that there were any positive feelings to be weighed against that. There was only fear. In fact, just one visit is enough to realise that afterwards, you feel so much better and so much more positive that a bit of fear can be endured because you know you will feel better afterwards. I know I should have known this as I have has children and know that after pain can come pleasure – but somehow I wouldn’t let this apply to dentists.
- It is lovely to smile and laugh without having to cover my mouth or worry about bad breath.
This will probably be my first and last post. Sorry it’s so long. Good luck everyone who wants to overcome their fear. Mine had held me back for so long I really believed I was a lost cause. Believe me when I say that if I can do it, anyone can!
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