This is the first time I’ve posted, but I’ve been lurking for a while. It helped me so much reading the posts. I hope that I can offer encouragement to all those who feel like I was feeling just a few weeks ago. I can’t remember a specific incident that started my dental phobia, but my teeth have never been good, and every time I went to the dentist, I needed loads of treatment. I never smiled in photos (even my wedding photos) and tried to hide my teeth by holding my hand in front of my face. I even had nightmares about my teeth falling out. I hadn’t been to the dentist in years, and my teeth were in a very bad way. I had lost most of my back teeth, they just crumbled and fell away years ago, and my front upper teeth were brown with visible decay. My bottom teeth were also very discoloured but were not in quite such bad shape as the top.
Three years ago I lost part of a filling from a front tooth at the gum line, and I ignored it. I convinced myself that if I looked after it by careful brushing, it wouldn’t get any worse. Over time more and more of the filling fell out and there was a visible cavity in the tooth, and still I managed to ignore it. The turning point came in April this year when a large piece of ‘something’ fell out of my tooth, leaving a hole. I again tried to hide it from other people, but I felt so totally depressed and could barely look at myself in the mirror. My self-esteem was at an all-time low, and deep down, I knew I had to do something. I didn’t even take my children to the dentist for fear of the dentist getting a glimpse of my horrible teeth. I realised that unless I faced my fear head-on, my kids would suffer in the same way that I had (at the moment they both have lovely teeth).
My 38th birthday was coming up, and my husband asked me what I wanted as a present. I think he was a little surprised to say the least when I said I wanted to get my teeth fixed. I had never even told him I had a fear of the dentist, but just made excuses every time the subject of the dentist came up.
The following day, he rang a number of practices in our area as I couldn’t bring myself to do it. He found one that the staff sounded nice, and I made myself ring for an appointment. I was in a terrible state the day before and wanted to cancel, but I made myself go through with it.
I am so glad I did. The staff were wonderful. They never once made me feel ashamed or dirty for not having gone before. The dentist did an examination and then outlined the treatment plan and the cost. It was to include six ceramic crowns for my upper teeth, white fillings and a bleaching tray for my lower teeth and hygienist visits.
That was mid-May. I went back three more times that first week to start treatment, and on 31st May, I went in for crown preparation. The tooth that had caused all the problems with the filling falling out crumbled as soon as the dentist started to prepare it. I was given the option of a root canal, trying to build the tooth up or extraction and I chose root canal. It was a completely painless procedure – I can honestly say to anyone facing having one of these, it is no worse than having a normal filling except that it takes longer. She fitted temporary crowns, which looked better than my natural teeth and then two weeks later I went back for the fitting of the permanent crowns. One month to the day I first went to the dentist, I walked out with perfectly straight, white teeth. I went back for a check-up last week and except for my hygienist visits don’t have to go back for six months. It was a lot of money, but worth every single penny for the way it’s made me feel. In my professional life, it’s opened doors which I felt were firmly closed to me before.
For the first time in my life, I can smile. I no longer avoid talking to people, and at last, I am able to be myself instead of the person hiding behind the teeth. My confidence has soared in every aspect of my life. I have taken my children to the same dentist, and they thought she was great, so they have had a positive dental experience. I looked at one of the few photos I have of myself showing my teeth taken a year ago and one taken yesterday – it’s like looking at a different person. I look younger, happier and healthier. If I can do it, you can too. I know it’s hard, but if you are able, you will be so glad you did. It can turn your life around.
Story 22 of 24