Hi all. Let me start by saying I am 37 years old and, for the first time in my life, am okay with the dentist. I suffer from generalized anxiety disorder and have always had a severe dental phobia. This phobia, in part, comes from the GAD, but also because I have had nothing but traumatic experiences with the dentist… lots of pain, rude doctors, and complications. Well recently, after MANY years of avoiding the dentist, my teeth starting breaking (4 in one month) and I could avoid no longer.
I began my search for a dentist by looking at their websites, if I liked the way it looked, I called, if I liked the receptionist, I booked an appointment… in all cases, I cancelled the appointment out of fear. Finally, after one day of some serious pain and my husband saying I have got to do something about my horrid breath, a friend referred me to his dentist… and I went.
I promptly explained to everyone in the office about my severe anxiety, the dentist offered Ativan, but I also have a narcotic phobia so I had to go it sans pills.
As it turns out, the appointment went fine, and the following extractions, cleaning, fillings, etc. were all faced without an irrational anxiety. How do I get through this? Simple, it was all in finding the right dentist, who knew?!?
This is what my dentist is, and therefore, what I suggest you look for.
First off, she is a woman, this made me more comfortable (softer voice, gentler touch, more understanding IMO).
Secondly, very kind, patient, and understanding staff (this one is huge).
Third, the dentist was VERY understanding of my fears. She made it very clear to me that she will stop at any time if I’m uncomfortable (showed me to raise my hand as a sign) and throughout treatment asked quite often if I’m doing okay. She also told me absolutely everything she was doing, how it might feel, and what sound and smell to expect (she offered to show me each tool, but I declined), she also gave me sunglasses so the light wasn’t too bright. On one occasion during an extraction, my jaw was really uncomfortable so she stopped her method entirely, and went about it a different way (problem solved, trust gained).
Lastly (and this helped a lot), she has a TV on her ceiling, so I watched a movie during treatment to keep distracted… I brought my fave DVD, and it worked great. She then gave me her mobile number and told me to call anytime I desire.
By my second appointment, I realized that much of my phobia has to do with not feeling in control. With the methods of this particular dentist, I felt like the control was given back to me. It has made the hugest difference, and now I feel like my dental anxiety is no greater than anyone without dental anxiety might experience.
My point of this long thread is to share how very important it is to find a dentist who you are comfortable with, and who has compassion and patience for phobias. I never in a million years figured I could be okay with going to the dentist. While it is still a painful and uncomfortable process for me… the fear is just about non-existent. Shop around until you find a dentist you like… they are out there and can be all the difference!
Let it be known, I was not someone with a simple fear, I have always suffered with very severe dental anxiety and am agoraphobic. So if I can overcome this, anyone can. Good luck to you all!
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