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Is anyone else terrified of the dentist?

merilenda

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Apr 20, 2010
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816
Or is that just me?

I haven't actually been to the dentist since I was maybe in high school (I'm 27 now). I know I have some issues going on with a couple of my teeth, but I haven't had dental insurance (or the extra money to go) until this past year. Plus I've been afraid to go, and I know that's dumb since it will only get worse, but I've kept putting it off.

I finally got up the courage to call and schedule an appointment today. They were able to get me in tomorrow morning. So I'm glad they could do it so quickly (I'd probably wimp out if I had too long to think about it). I'm absolutely terrified tonight though. I woke up before my alarm went off this morning and couldn't even fall back asleep because I told myself I was going to call today.

The dentist I'll be seeing does use conscious sedation for people who have high anxiety. So maybe that will help. What's making it worse is that I know I'll probably need some major work done, and the cost factor is also stressing me out a lot.

I know it probably sounds kind of ridiculous to have so much fear about the dentist of all things. But any encouragement or positive thoughts are definitely welcome. I keep whimpering about how scared I am to my FI and I think I'm about to drive him crazy.
 

diamondringlover

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Dec 12, 2006
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Nope I HATE the dentist and I am gonna admit something awful, I am 50 I have not been to the dentist since I was around 22 or 23 :nono: I have TMJ and I have an awful time with pain after I get my teeth clean and I think it has tarnished the way I think about dentist....maybe one day I will go back!
 

slg47

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Apr 4, 2010
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ok well I am one of the few people I know who really enjoys going to the dentist. How did you find the dentist?
 

amc80

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I also like going to the dentist, especially my current dentist. It's like going to a spa. You can get a paraffin hand wax and a warmed neck pillow. The chairs are super comfy as well, and they face outside where there are tons of birdfeeders to watch.
 

merilenda

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I'm glad someone at least shares my terror, diamondrnglover.

Slg, I found the dentist because he works in the hospital where I work (I work in the hospital-affiliated hospice). I think a lot of people where I work go there. I can walk there from my office.

I decided to have some red wine to try to calm myself and now I'm worried that I'll stain my teeth right before my appointment. I am such a mess! I think I think partly have this fear that the dentist will judge me for not going for so long. And he'll lecture me on the state of my teeth or something.
 

missy

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I feel for you as I hate going to the dentist too! Ironically my dad is a (retired) dentist and before he stopped working I didn't mind going as I really trust my dad. However now I absolutely detest going to the dentist.

To make matters worse I have awful teeth and in the last few years I have needed 3 root canals and crowns. For me the worse part is the pain of the procedures and the length of time it takes my dentist to do anything! That's why I am currently looking for a new and hopefully more efficient dentist. Harder than it sounds.

On the other hand I love my endodontist and root canals are not bad at all. The hardest part is when you are in pain before the root canal and figuring out which tooth needs the root cut. I have been in on and off pain for the last few years and unfortunately my endodontist is unable to find anything but he thinks it could be a nerve dying and it is just not showing up yet.

Good luck tomorrow Merilenda! I hope your dentist is good and that your visit goes smoothly!
 

somethingshiny

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I USED to hate going to the dentist. UNTIL I found a GREAT one. Ya gotta shop around to get one that you can be totally comfortable with. Mine knows I'm a big baby. I gag when they do x-rays, I scooch out of the chair on my butt cheeks during the cleaning, and I swing.

btw- a great tip I've gotten from the hygienist: cross your legs and raise your feet a few inches during the high-anxiety times. Concentrating on holding still and raised takes the edge off the anxiety.

Good luck!!
 

MichelleCarmen

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You for sure need to look into some sort of anti-anxiety med to help you. It's not uncommon for people to feel uncomfortable. Be upfront with your dentist & take 1/2 a valium or something and then have your FI drive you to/from the denist.
 

JewelFreak

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amc80|1304635673|2913388 said:
I also like going to the dentist, especially my current dentist. It's like going to a spa. You can get a paraffin hand wax and a warmed neck pillow. The chairs are super comfy as well, and they face outside where there are tons of birdfeeders to watch.
Yow! Will you give your dentist's phone number to my dentist? All I get is a free toothbrush.

Don't mind going, though. It doesn't hurt anymore, Merilenda. They give you stuff if you want it. I've had some dental stuff done besides cleaning -- a crown, etc., -- & was nervous beforehand. It was a piece of cake, no pain, and they joked around w/me while doing it.

Like most things, the dread is MUCH worse than the actual experience. You'll wonder why you worried, once it's done. I doubt they'll lecture you -- most are pretty tactful 'cause if you don't like 'em, you can go somewhere else.

--- Laurie

P.S. Many dentists will work out payment plans. If this one won't, look around & you'll locate plenty who will.
 

packrat

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Dec 12, 2008
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I never used to be. When I got pregnant w/our first baby I got my first cavities. Dentist told me being pregnant can really mess w/your teeth. It messed w/mine badly. Same when I got pregnant w/our second. Baaad. Now I have problems w/my gums. I brush too hard (tho no harder than I used to) and the gums are receding and let me just say how incredibly through the roof unpleasant it is to have them use the metal pointy scraper thing. So..yep, I'm scared now.

Good luck on your appointment tomorrow-I hope it goes well for you!
 

ksinger

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My husband had some bad dental experiences as a child, and less than satisfactory ones later too - they couldn't properly numb him in the lower jaw. :-o Of course, many people -and dentists (they are NOT created equal) think you're just making that stuff up. Big baby. :rolleyes:

So fast forward to about 4 cavities needing filling, and finally I whispered sweet nothings in his ear about being totally knocked out and having it all done at once. He caved. The interesting thing is, when the dentist came to talk to me when hubs was recovering, he said, "Yeah, it took a lot to keep him knocked out and we had a time working around all that nerve damage..and..." I'm like, "Whoa...back up, nerve damage?" "Yeah, that nerve in his lower jaw got damaged at some time in the past." Hmm. Wasn't making it up.

Anyway, if I was that scared, I'd go to someone who could also do a full knockout IF you and the dentist decide that's what you really need. My guy certainly did, for his own sanity, AND because he really did have a problem. Now that we know, there is no more worry: we'll just have him knocked out for it.

Honestly, I'm not sure anyone outside of a production of "Little Shop of Horrors" wants to see the dentist, so you're in good company! ;)) Best of luck to you!
 

mary poppins

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2,569
Ignore your teeth and they'll go away!

I don't mind going to the dentist, probably because while growing up my dentist was a neighbor and my dad's best friend. He also had a very kid friendly office because we got a little "prize" toy at the end of the visit. Ha, just remembered that when trick or treaters came to his house on Halloween, he gave out toothbrushes instead of candy.

I've had a lot of procedures so I guess I got used to it after a while. It's more a feeling of dread . . . as in, what's next? because I have bad dental history starting at an early age. Some of my baby teeth didn't fall out when the big teeth were coming in, so the dentist had to pull the baby teeth. And it went on from there. The worst were *** GROSS WARNING *** (1) oral surgery in my teens for a tooth impacted and horizontal high in my gums, then placing a hook on the tooth and attaching it to my braces to pull it down to the level of the rest of my teeth; (2) skin grafting for receding gums at age 20 (cutting a patch of skin from the roof of the mouth and sewing it onto the gums, done twice because top and bottom gums needed to be done); and (3) removal of two impacted wisdom teeth that were facing the front of my mouth with the potential of pushing the rest of my teeth forward/causing crowding. Getting a crown and a root canal were nothing compared to those procedures!

The worst part was getting the novocaine, but my new dentist, when he's about to administer it, has me close my eyes and lift my left leg about an inch or two off the chair. For some reason, the shot doesn't hurt as much. I guess because I'm not focusing on the it.

Anyone who doesn't go to the dentist on a regular basis should definitely be flossing and brushing diligently.

ETA Gross Warning for queasy PSers.
 

TravelingGal

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Dec 29, 2004
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If you take care of your teeth, cleanings are painless. If you don't - well, cleanings are a real PITA.

Anything else, it's a few pricks of the good stuff, which hurt for about 30 seconds, and then you're in heaven. Nothing matters after that, and most procedures will leave you fine afterwards, if not a bit sore. I have had root canals, and they don't hurt at all (I really don't get why they get such a bad reputation.)

A good dentist is KEY. I have had many, MANY bad ones. Now I have one I trust, and he's cute and personable to boot. He's awesome and it's pretty well a walk in the park.

The worst, most painful thing I've ever had done was when they had to rip a failed implant OUT. OMG, it was painful for days afterward. Again, I've had root canals, putting implant in (twice in the same spot), artificial bone graft (into the implant spot) and all was totally fine. I have heard that a bone graft from your own jaw is excruciating though.
 

merilenda

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Apr 20, 2010
Messages
816
Thank you everyone for the support and stories! It definitely helps. I'm definitely going to talk to the dentist about my anxiety before he does anything. I'm assuming that tomorrow, he'll just do an exam, x-rays, and a cleaning.

I'm not sure when my fear started, but I had a lot of dental work done as a kid. I had to have I think 6 teeth pulled before I got braces (a combination of baby and adult teeth). I also had to have 2 of my wisdom teeth surgically removed. It was NEVER as bad as I imagined. I think they removed my wisdom teeth when I was about 14. I was terrified for MONTHS. And it wasn't nearly as bad as I was anticipating, but it doesn't stop me from continuing to be scared at the thought of dental work.

Like some of you, I think I just have crappy teeth. I do brush/floss religiously though.

I just keep trying to think of the results & how much happier I'll be and better I'll feel when it's all over.
 

Jennifer W

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I feel for you, I really do. I've had a huge dental phobia since a dreadful experience as a child. I've also needed a lot of work done, after an accident that damaged a lot of my teeth. Not a good combination.

I don't think I'll ever be truly happy about visiting the dentist, but there are things that have helped me. I've had cognitive behavioural therapy, which helped a bit, and I was taught self-hypnosis techniques at the dental hospital here. That helps too. Have to say though, IV sedation is the main thing - the deeper the better. I found a dentist who uses that and understands that it's for a valid clinical reason. He really gets it, and he does everything he can to make treatment a possibility for me. I have a lot of confidence in him, but it's taken me years to find someone this good. (He's an NHS dentist, too. They don't have the best reputation...).

I had a cleaning done last week - it was absolutely fine. Now, bear in mind I needed to be sedated for a check up just a few years ago, so if I say it was ok, a normal dentist-goer should experience less than a slight tickle. ;))

Good luck - it's not as big and scary as it seems, I promise.
 

ksinger

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Well, even though I've drawn some less than wonderful cards in other areas, I have to say (thankfully) that I'm one of the lucky ones when it comes to teeth. I had one stretch there which was at least 13 and maybe 20? years, where I didn't see a dentist, and when I finally did again - at age 40, my teeth were perfect. But as others have said, you have to be pretty diligent. I am, through no great effort on my part. Taking care of my teeth is kinda like breathing to me - I do it without thinking. And here's a newsflash - I do NOT floss, as a rule. HOWEVER, I AM the toothpick queen. Sharp ones. Rotapics if I can get 'em. Right after a meal and especially if you can't get to a toothbrush. But if you can, brush within 15 minutes of eating. Of course I think I just got really good enamel too. Again, pure dumb luck. ;))

Oh, I DO go to the dentist nowadays, and I DID have to have a tooth removed recently. One of my 3 remaining baby teeth finally gave up the ghost at age 47. The dentist was amazed it had lasted that long in the first place, although the other 2 are rock solid and going nowhere. Anyway, it was anklyosed (grown into the bone) and had to be chiseled out. Yes, I opted to be OUT for that. Chisels? Um...no.
 

stci

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I'm not afraid of the dentist I'm afraid of the bill when I go there! :lol:
 

susimoo

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I can relate totally to how you are feeling. That was me from the age of 11 to 21.
I had a horrendous experience with a school dentist, which I will not horrify you with. By 21 I knew I needed work.
So I did what I do if I am looking for a good hairdresser or beautician. I asked around and one name kept coming up. The dentist in question was also female.
I took one of my friends with me, who had recommended Mary in the first place, to my first appointment. I was allowed to have my friend in with me. She held my hand and whispered calming words throughout whilst I told Mary my unhappy tale.
When it was time for the examination I was so scared I hardly even opened my mouth, but Mary went with it. She reassured me and I believed in her.

The rest as they say is history. I have been going religiously since 1991 and I have veneers fitted for tetracycline staining and have had a brace. All because I found a wonderful dentist. (who actually moved to Australia 6 years ago and found me a wonderful replacement dentist, Margaret!!!)
So the key is shop around. Find someone you feel you can trust and build a rapport with. It will be worth it.

Good luck!!
 

MichelleCarmen

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merilenda|1304652540|2913651 said:
Thank you everyone for the support and stories! It definitely helps. I'm definitely going to talk to the dentist about my anxiety before he does anything.
This may shock many (or not) but some dentists will give anti-anxiety meds *to kids*. My son needed dental work done and the dentist offered to write an RX for his major work (two teeth pulled and an expander). I thought he was nuts! Never heard of such a thing, but now a days, I guess the office playing a movie while a child sits in a chair isn't enough!
 

Jennifer W

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I don't know if it's a bad thing. Maybe if that had been available when I had my childhood dental nightmare, I wouldn't have had the long term anxiety and phobia response that I'm dealing with now. It's the memory of the anxiety and distress rather than the pain that caused my problems, I think.

Also, I'm assuming that the dentist / anaesthetist is making a clinical judgement in each case in accordance with applicable governing standards, before offering this medication in response to need. At least, I hope that's what is happening!
 

kenny

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I brush and floss, clean my tongue before bed religiously every day.
I go to the dentist for a cleaning 2 or 3 times a year no matter what.
I love my dentist, very gentle and caring.
I've had the same one since 1982.

You'd think I'd have little dentist anxiety, but I do.
When he is actually using the drill I stress BIG TIME!
I probably had a dentist hit a nerve when I was a little kid.

Lately if I know the drill will be used I insist on a Valium Rx.
That helps a lot.
I am NOT a recreational drug user, besides wine. :lickout:

I recommend you try taking Valium prior to the appointment.
It is a legit use for the drug.
Sure such drugs can be abused, but this is exactly what they are for.
 

MichelleCarmen

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Jennifer W|1304705350|2914110 said:
I don't know if it's a bad thing. Maybe if that had been available when I had my childhood dental nightmare, I wouldn't have had the long term anxiety and phobia response that I'm dealing with now. It's the memory of the anxiety and distress rather than the pain that caused my problems, I think.

Also, I'm assuming that the dentist / anaesthetist is making a clinical judgement in each case in accordance with applicable governing standards, before offering this medication in response to need. At least, I hope that's what is happening!
Yeah, I agree that a sedative for some kids could be a good thing. I want to point out that the dentist was a clinic exclusively for children so his view was in light of previous experiences. I declined and will not know if that is the right choice or not!

He now goes to another clinic due to insurance and hasn't had any phobias but has had terrible reactions to all his dental work and we had to take out his spacers and expanders. His body actually *rejected* having objects in his mouth which were there to move his teeth. We wondered if it was the metal (stainless steel), but when had everything taken out and switched to a temporary plastic retainer, he still had problems. Actual physical symptoms that were noticable to EVERYONE!

Even with that, he still asks when his braces will be put in...
 

MichelleCarmen

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Oh, I want to include that I too hate going to the dentist. Even though we got insurance a while back, I've still post poned my cleaning.

YEARS ago...like when I was in my early 20s, I had an appointment to get my teeth cleaned and my DH (then boyfriend) told me I should ask the dentist for nitrous oxide for during the cleaning. Well, the dentist said okay. I had never had it before and (from what I later discovered) he turned it up too high or something/gave me too much and I WIGGED OUT. That bright light in my face...like an alien abduction. hahaha
 

merilenda

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All of your stories are helping me! Probably having more knowledge helps in general. I wanted to come back and let you all know that I survived my appointment. He only did a consult and looked at the two teeth that are bothering me (x-rays and pictures with a little penlight looking thing...technology has DEFINITELY improved since the last time I went to the dentist!)

He was understand about my anxiety and explained everything to me. Even showed me a little video of the procedure I need, although I was so anxious the whole time that I couldn't really pay attention!

Here's my understanding of it. I have a cavity around a prior filling that I got a long time ago (it's an old metal one). He's going to take the filling out and clean that area thoroughly to see how far the damage goes. If it goes down to the nerve, he'll do a root canal and a crown. If not, he'll just do a regular filling. I am glad that I'm getting the metal filling taken out at least and that it will be replaced with a porcelain one.

I also need a tooth extracted on the other side. :errrr: Normally he'd do this in two appointments, but because of my anxiety, he said he could just do it all at once if I wanted. After the extraction, he wants it to heal for 6-8 weeks and then I can do an implant or bridge. At least it's an upper molar, so you won't really be able to see the missing tooth unless I have my mouth wide open and you're looking from underneath!

He gave me several prescriptions. I'm starting an antibiotic today and will go get the rx filled after I get done with my charting from work. He also gave me the sedative (FI will have to drive me to and from my appointment) that I take one hour before the appointment. So I'll take a sedative and then get nitrous for the procedure (on top of the local obviously). He gave me an rx for Valium that I can take afterwards as needed. He said I probably wouldn't have any actual pain but might have a little discomfort.

I'm doing this appointment next Friday so that I have the weekend to recover in case I have any discomfort (I was worried about working while taking Valium). That also means that it's being done on...Friday the 13th. Good thing I'm not really superstitious, because wow.

So I'm pretty stressed about this, but glad that the first step is over. I will be soooo glad when this is all over.

Also, I had a long conversation with the receptionist and learned that dental insurance really sucks. I'm meeting my yearly max in the next appointment alone.
 

nfowife

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Mar 15, 2011
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I am not a good dental patient. What has helped me was getting laughing gas for a few minutes to relax/be out of it. Then they do the novocaine. I also bring my ipod and listen to the music pretty loud so I can't hear any drilling. With these 3 things I've actually fallen asleep getting a root canal believe it or not!
 

Tacori E-ring

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Just scared of the bill.
 

TravelingGal

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merilenda,

I know this would be a PITA, and you may not care, but would you want to get a second opinion on that tooth he says you need to get extracted? I would get a second opinion on any tooth that a dentist says needs to go. Once it's gone, it's gone so I wouldn't extract until I knew it HAD to go.

For a back top molar, I'd spend the money on an implant so you can more easily keep it clean (flossing would be easier). Good luck, and glad it went ok!
 

Izzy03

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Dec 10, 2007
Messages
613
No way, I love going to the dentist. The feeling of squeaky clean teeth is great!

Getting a root canal, NOT SO MUCH FUN!! I have had 2 root canals on the same tooth because I had a cyst beneath it that was affecting the tooth roots. I had to take a Xanax or Valium to both times. The procedure itself is not so bad, but the injection to numb your mouth makes my anxiety skyrocket.

Like Tgal said, a second opinion might not be a bad idea, go with your gut.
 

Krae11

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nfowife|1304730056|2914445 said:
I am not a good dental patient. What has helped me was getting laughing gas for a few minutes to relax/be out of it. Then they do the novocaine. I also bring my ipod and listen to the music pretty loud so I can't hear any drilling. With these 3 things I've actually fallen asleep getting a root canal believe it or not!
I was going to suggest taking an iPod with you too. I've actually always enjoyed the dentist (weird, I know), but I'm in the process of having some veneers out on and I experienced my first bout of anxiety last week. I had some composite bonding on my front 6 uppers and that all had to be drilled off before he could put the temporary veneers on. Um....wow. I stressed. It was the sound of the drill for me. Logically, I know it's only taking off the tiniest amount at a time, but I felt like he was drilling my teeth off (in fact, all of my natural teeth are safe. It really was just removing the bonding). I had these horrifying ideas of being left with short, jagged, pointy teeth, which of course just continued to increase my stress.
Anyway, I used the Pandora app on my iPhone to listen to some fun music to distract myself and it helped. Fortunately, they had some good earphones because I hadn't brought any with me.
Oh! Also, my new dentist is my SO's best friend so I really didn't want to seem wussy. Sadly, I don't think I fooled him. :???:
 
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