I have severe dental anxiety and have avoided going for 14 years! I’ve lost a ton of sleep dreading the day I would eventually go. I’ve read these forums in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep but never registered an account because I didn’t want to admit that I, too, suffer from dental anxiety.
I have 3 young children and let 3 years go by before taking them to the dentist because I was afraid FOR them. The guilt was gut-wrenching, and when one of my daughters had a tooth break due to an undiagnosed cavity, I knew I needed to break free from this anxiety. She had a series of appointments for two extractions, a baby root canal and a handful of cavities filled. I had no idea her teeth were that bad; all looked fine on the surface. It was my fault that she had to endure so much treatment and boy did I punish myself hard for it. She has dental anxiety as well, and I’m certain that I passed that on to her.
I took my other two children to the dentist last week and thank goodness their teeth are fine with no cavities. They both were so brave, and that is when I realized that I needed to be brave, too.
After spending many hours researching and emailing doctors that say they specialize in treating anxious patients, I decided to bite the bullet and make an appointment. I was nearly in tears telling my new dentist how afraid and embarrassed I was.
I’ve never met a dentist as compassionate and gentle as this one! He promised not to do anything I didn’t want him to do and suggested we start with him just taking a look in my mouth with no tools in hand. Opening my mouth and letting him look in was such a huge step and gave me so much relief! He complimented my healthy gums and asked if I’d be okay with a full set of x-rays. The dental assistant was also very understanding and talked me through each picture she took. Just amazing.
I am happy to say that I only have two small surface cavities and I need my wisdom teeth removed at some point. They don’t bother me yet but two are partially impacted so I will get them out before they start causing any issues. I can honestly say that my mind told me I’d at least need a root canal, maybe some extractions, and I thought I’d have quite a few cavities. My irrational mind really messed with me! I will get both cavities taken care of next week and they will do a cleaning at the same time. I don’t feel nervous about this appointment at all because I am focusing hard on the relief I will feel when it’s over.
For those of you still struggling to make an appointment, just take a deep breath and do it! I promise you, you will feel so wonderful after taking that first step. I used the email script on this site to email a few local docs and I ultimately went with the one that thought he could help me. I think the biggest part of my anxiety was the embarrassment of not seeing a dentist in 14 years, so breaking the ice with the email really helped.
I hope that anyone reading this feels comforted knowing that your first visit will likely not be as bad as you are picturing. My anxiety was all in my head, and I’m so mad that I let it control my life for so long, but I’m hopeful that I’ve turned a new leaf and will no longer neglect my dental health.
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