Hi everyone, (Long story alert – apologies for any waffling!)
After almost 20 years of not going to a dentist after a huge phobia caused from a bad dentist in my teens (I won’t explain here what caused phobia, but very similar stories to most) and a bad case of shame, yesterday I attended my first dental appointment!
Bearing in mind that I have been toying with the idea of going to a dentist for the past 3 years and have until now, just found myself searching teeth problems on the internet and reading through the Dental Phobia and Dental Fear Central forum to get some courage in me, so it has taken some time to get my butt in gear, even after losing teeth. But it wasn’t until I realised that I want to be able to smile in my wedding photos later this year that I thought, I have to do something about it now! (Plus reading some success stories on here have really helped, thank you)
So after searching through a number of dentists, I decided to email a few in the area who were demonstrating that they handle nervous patients with care. A few emails later (Explaining my story and fears), I received 2 responses from about 5 – both polite, but only one that came directly from the dentist himself which straight away made me feel that he was someone who would treat me with empathy and care and didn’t care that my teeth were in a terrible, terrible state! He explained that the first meeting would be just to take a look and perhaps take some x-rays and that we can go from there. He wasn’t pushy at all in making me arrange an appointment and just asked for my number and that if OK with me he would get one of the receptionists to call me. A call from a nice receptionist followed within the hour of me replying, and an appointment was booked for a week later.
After that first hurdle, I already felt like a weight had been lifted, and I was starting a journey to getting my mouth sorted. I think because I had explained what sort of state my teeth were in already, I felt that the Dentist will know what to expect and I needn’t feel as embarrassed now.
So, the week went by and in that time, I obviously googled ‘bad teeth’, ‘severe gum disease’, ‘bone loss’, ‘dentures’, ‘root canals’ and all other bad things which I knew would be brought up after he looked in my mouth and literally put the eebie jeebies and worst-case scenarios in my head (Not the best thing to do).
Finally, the day arrived and I was surprisingly calm, until I stepped foot in the waiting room and all of a sudden the tears wouldn’t hold back 😢
I filled in the health form and received a reassuring smile of the receptionist and then dead on time, the dentist came out to reception to greet me. A very polite and friendly-looking guy who said to me with a smile “don’t look so scared”. Well, I couldn’t speak for being so teary and trying to hold them back, but he said “not to worry as we have seen many patients cry”, “not because of the way they are treated by the way, but just because they are nervous”… straight away I felt better, and he asked me to take a seat on the chair and firstly introduced me to the dental nurse, who gave me a sweet smile.
The dentist proceeded to ask me what I believe caused my fear, and he was extremely empathetic and understanding and said he had heard very similar stories before, so I wasn’t the only one. He remembered when I was getting married (which I had written in the email) and I thought it was very good of him to remember and was proof that he had taken in every word I had written and had good customer service.
So after 5 minutes or so of chatting and explaining my situation, he asked the dreaded question “Can I take a look in your mouth?” Arghhhh, it has been so many years since I have let anyone look in my mouth and I just found myself clam up with fear and start apologising for the state of my teeth (Must have said sorry at least 3 times in 30 seconds), but I gradually lay back on the chair as he lowered it and slowly opened my mouth, somehow forgetting how to breathe in the process!!
So he takes the mirror and looks inside and starts to tell me what he can see. Now after the explanation I gave him in the email, I knew that he was expecting some bad teeth (I knew that I would need 3 extractions and 4 fillings from looking myself, but I also knew that it was highly likely that there was far more that needed work that I couldn’t see myself – possible root canal and gum grafts etc.). So he looked and said yes all of the damage that I knew about would require these things, but that was it! My teeth need a good clean and some are stained, but he actually said that I have got some really good teeth in my mouth that need nothing done to them and that my teeth are nowhere near as bad as I was imagining!
All of the so-called decay that I thought I had on every molar is just staining in the crevices that should come off after a good scale and polish, and none of my fillings are deep enough to require root canals.
He took some X-rays, and after looking at them he said that there are no root canals that need doing, I have good bone structure left, and the only teeth that need to come out are the ones I had mentioned, and all of the fillings (which I thought were humongous and would require a crown) are all easy to fill and 2 are very small. He showed me the X-Ray, and it was actually quite amazing to see my teeth and bone structure, which like I said apart from the teeth that are missing, all look good. He even pointed out the 3 wisdom teeth that are there but haven’t come out, probably due to having no space, but X-ray shows that if they would come out, they would be straight (however at 33, they will likely stay under the gum).
In hearing the words he was saying, I was so happy, I know the loss of 3 teeth shouldn’t make me happy, and I am ashamed at myself for letting this fear take over me for so long that it has resulted in tooth loss, but I was happy in hearing that there were no nasty surprises and that all of the horror stories I was predicting was just me fearing the worst. So far I guess I could consider myself lucky, as the dentist has said that it will take only a number of visits before I can say my mouth is healthy and it isn’t going to cost the thousands that I was imagining!
But for now, I am booked in to have 2 small fillings in my incisors and in all honesty, I cannot wait as it means I can smile with a bit more confidence. The dentist is happy to start with the smaller things and gradually move onto the bigger jobs when I am more familiar with being back in the dentist chair.
Sorry for the long-winded story, but I just can’t believe that I have started this journey to fixing my teeth! I swear to anyone reading this, if you have any fears, email around first – best thing I could have done to give me the push I needed, plus if you don’t get the response you want or feel happy with, they won’t know who you are and won’t be able to force you into going to their practice! I just can’t believe that I can say I have been to the dentist! If I can do it, you can….and don’t always fear the worst as it can easily put you off going!
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