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Dental Phobia Stories

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Guess I'll be the first to share my story :-). It's kind of long, but I really hope it can be inspirational. Just wanted to let you all know that it is possible to obtain the holy grail of pain-free dentistry, without sedation.

I have been a HUGE phobic since childhood. I'm now 28 and had not seen a dentist in over 10 years. My teeth started crumbling three years ago and I kept hiding them rather than even consider seeing a dentist. But for me, when my right front tooth broke in half, I couldn't put it off any more, no matter how scared I was.

It took me visiting four different dentists before I finally found one that I completely trusted who also took my dental plan. A lot of crying, a lot of sleepless nights, horrible experiences with a dentist who told me that I was a drug abuser because I have bad teeth... a dentist that I liked but wouldn't take my plan... lots of
problems, lots of reasons to go back to hiding under a rock. But I persevered because I knew I had to. I couldn't go on being phobic forever, or I would end up losing all of my teeth.

I knew it was different from the moment I walked into dentist #4's office. The office itself looked like I always imagined a spa in South Beach. The staff was nice, helpful, friendly, and comforting. Then I met the dentist. Ever meet someone and just have the inexplicable feeling that you can completely and utterly trust this
person? That's how I felt with this dentist. Every fear, every phobia melted away. His exam was so gentle, I couldn't even feel his hands in my mouth... in contrast to the others I had been to, who seemed to be trying to pull my teeth out by hand. I need a lot of work, but he agreed to start with the six front uppers... 4 root
canals, 2 extractions, and a 6 unit bridge. But first a scaling and root planing to treat my gum disease. They offered to do it that day.

I agreed, and the phobias came back in crushing waves as I sat back in the chair and waited for injections. But surprise surprise, first a numbing gel was applied to my gums. I didn't feel the needle At All!! The hygienist brought in an assistant to help calm me, since I was still breathing pretty hard and gripping the chair arms so tightly. It worked like a charm! The guy just sat and talked quietly to me, giving me encouragement. I was told to expect some soreness and sensitivity for a few days after the procedure, but mine lasted literally an hour!

Yesterday was the big day. All 4 root canals, 2 extractions, prepping my teeth, and fitting a temp bridge. Boy was I scared! I was encouraged by how things had gone at the last appointment, but nonetheless that was "just a cleaning" and this was major work! I didn't sleep much at all Thursday night, and I was too scared to eat breakfast on Friday. I thought for sure I would be there most of the day, and I didn't know how I would live through it.

Impressions were taken first, and went much easier than I had imagined. Then the dentist came in... I was terrified, but again his gentle demeanor and kind words calmed me. He explained exactly what he was going to do, and told me that if I needed to stop for any reason to simply raise my right hand. He assured me that he would then stop immediately. Numbing gel, injections, and here we go... no IV sedation, I'm scared of things that knock me out.

I'm not sure if I half-napped, meditated, or just zoned out... but the noises actually slipped into the background, my mind was anywhere but there... I did stop him three times - two because I'm getting over a cold and had to cough, and one because I needed a tiny bit more Novocaine before one of the extractions.

I could not believe it when the noise stopped, I opened my eyes, and the assistant told me it was over. It only took a little over an hour for everything!! They gave me a prescription for vicodin and an appointment to come back in a week to have the root canals sealed.

As it turns out, I haven't needed a single vicodin. I took 4 advils before the numbness wore off, and it turned out I didn't even need those! I literally have not had a second of pain or soreness. My teeth felt a little traumatized in the first hours, not painful at all, just that I could tell that they had been messed with a bit, and they were a teeny bit cold-sensitive for the first hour or two.

Other than that, nothing! I ate pudding immediately after leaving the office, a huge lunch about two hours later, and have been eating normally (and smoking, I'm a smoker) ever since. Who knew that root canals and extractions could be entirely pain free??

So for all my fellow phobics... please, please find yourself a dentist that you trust. It's the intangibles that truly matter... rapport is essential. It is possible to break through your fear, and it is possible to have a pain-free experience, whether or not you choose sedation. If I had any idea way back in the day that dentistry could be like this, I would never have let my teeth get so bad in the first place. But better late than never. I have an absolutely gorgeous temp bridge, and can smile for the first time in years. I can't wait to see what the perm bridge is going to look like. It truly is worth the struggle.

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