Here I am, some 7 months after first posting on DFC – and that was only after a few months of “lurking”, trying to get up the nerve even to write about my fears, let alone do anything about them. And this time, I’m writing to say THANK YOU to DFC, to the members who wrote kind words in response to my posts, and especially to Brit, who was not only supportive but gave me the practical advice and help I needed to get the care I had been unable to get for almost 35 years!
To briefly recap my situation: Like many DFC posters, I experienced a combination of serious neglect and incompetent dental care as a child, resulting in many problems, a lot of pain, and complete avoidance of dental care from the age of 10 until I was about 25 years old. At that time, desperate, ashamed, and in pain, I put myself in the hands of a dentist. (Ill-chosen because I couldn’t ask anyone for advice. He was also a creep!) The result was that all my teeth were pulled and I had full dentures – devastating, to say the least, for a young woman.
But to make it even worse, although my teeth were gone, my fears remained, even increased. And I then reverted to my habits of ignoring, hiding, and avoiding the issue, all of which, as many of you will know, take a toll on a person. I did not go to a dentist for another 35 years. (I know that some of you might think, “The worst has already happened, so what has she to worry about?” But, as I’ve said before, my experience, I think is proof that fear and shame are as big a part of dental phobia as the concern about pain. How many of us have suffered years of excruciating pain rather than go to the dentist? It’s mostly not about the pain.)
Last fall, I found DFC, and I finally posted a bit about my problems. With Brit’s advice, I contacted a number of dentists anonymously by e-mail. To the few who responded in what I felt was a helpful way, I then wrote explaining my situation. One dentist, in particular, seemed to be someone I could approach. Although she is in another town, I would at that point have gone just about anywhere for the right person. After a few e-mails back and forth, I got up the nerve to go to her office (only as far as the waiting room!) to meet her. She seemed very kind, tactful, and understanding. With her help and the support of my husband (once I finally managed to talk to him about it all), I eventually moved to x-ryas and an examination. I thought I would die from fear, just sitting in the chair. But the dentist proved to be not only very kind but also very skilled, and I eventually got through many visits over the course of a few months.
And now, as a result, I have a newly healthy mouth, properly fitting and functioning dentures, and, if I do say so myself, a nice smile – at age 60, for the first time ever! I have to almost force myself to relax, to smile, to make eye contact – all things I have learned to avoid over my whole adult life. I couldn’t be more pleased.
I’ll be going to the dentist regularly, maybe even a bit more than is necessary for a while, just to make sure I have overcome my long-held fears. I am so grateful to have found her, and I thank DFC for helping me to get there. You have made such a big difference in my life! With a smile, Lilliane
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