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Facing the Music

I have a confession to make. I haven’t been to the dentist in about 7 years. It’s terrible, I know. I have dental anxiety, though, and I just hate to go. I get sweaty palms and heart palpitations and nausea just thinking about going.

Guess what, though? I’m going to the dentist today. At 1:30. You see, I chipped a tooth a few weeks back and now it’s time to pay the piper. I’m quite sure it will be awful and I’m quite sure I will be chastised for neglecting my oral health and I’m quite sure I’ll throw up on the dentist. Okay, I probably won’t throw up on the dentist but I’ll have to fight the urge.

I’m committed to doing whatever it takes to get my teeth and gums back on good terms with the dentist even though I fear this could be a long and awful road.

Could you all think really positive and calming thoughts for me today? I just know it’ll help. Thanks, friends.

This Post Has 59 Comments

  1. I wish I could offer a real-life hand to hold, but you have my virtual hand (and a lot of “serene, serene!”– as a consolation prize.

  2. You can do it! I went through the same thing years ago, but found the best way to deal with dental anxiety is to go often. Now I go every three months and have few problems to deal with in the long haul. It’s the ONLY way to go. You can do it…this is the first step and she/he’ll be gentle. IF NOT find a new dentist.

  3. I went about 7 years without, too, but I just brush and floss regularly and got a very clean bill of dental health. David went about 10 years until last summer and only this spring had a little cavity that needs filling. So maybe it won’t be that bad.

  4. I know exactly how you feel! I have the very same issue and went for years without going to the dentist. When I finally did, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d thought. I’ve managed to find a very gentle dentist who understands my anxiety. I made a promise to myself to go regularly, which I have been doing for about a year and a half now.

    Good luck – and good for you for going!!

  5. I wear my iPod to the dentist…. with a book on tape or something like that. the earbuds don’t get in his way and I have something “else” to concentrate on. Also, Dan’s had sedation dentistry and that worked wonders!

  6. I just, just did what you did. I have dental insurance and had not been in four years because I hate dentists’ office.

    I warned them that I was committed but that I did not want any lectures and that I could afford just so much this year with my insurance and the rest would have to wait till January.

    Good luck……’ll do find but don’t let them put you on a guilt trip.

  7. Yes! Sending all kinds of good thoughts your way!! I’m glad you are getting this taken care of. Good for you!! HUGS!

  8. Good for you to do this! (Sorry about your chipped tooth, though.) I’ve knitted while I’ve had cavities filled. That helps pass the time while waiting for the next step in the process. If you had a simple project that didn’t require you to look at it, you could probably even knit the whole time. Best wishes!

  9. You got it. Had my share of dental work and am a dental phobe too. Had a root canal a week and a half ago ( a broken tooth) and did just fine. I’m sure you will too.

  10. I’ve been in your shoes but I hate to admit it was longer than 7 years…I have a REALLY great dentist & hygienist, who know I’m a BIG chicken. Now I’m on my 6 mth schedule and feel much better. Take it from me, the BIGGEST “DentalPhobic”, you’ll be okay! I’ll be thinking about you this afternoon.

  11. Sorry I’m late and hope it all went well. I find that two fingers of Jack Dainel’s 1 hours prior to the dentist is the best bet. Dinah

  12. Bring a cd with you. My dentist back home was terrific with nervous patients and she always encouraged me to bring relaxing music with me. If you’re really scared, you can ask your dentist for a prescription for a single dose of valium or some other relaxant to take before your appointments. My mother usually could manage to get through regular cleanings okay, but she took the serious drugs before any dental work.

    Good luck!

  13. Sending you good thoughts. For future visits, you could ask your dentist to give you some valium or another tranq. to help with the anxiety. I know Samm (and other people) always has to take a valium before going to the dentist.

  14. Good luck! The x-rays are what give me an issue (gag reflex) but I go routinely and as Margene said, it’s the best way to help you. Each visit will be easier, and problems will be caught before they are big. Take knitting for the waiting room!

  15. Good luck! If you don’t end up liking the one you go to today, I have one to recommend (although he’s up here in Nashua)… I was terrified and hadn’t gone for a few years, and he and his whole staff were absolutely wonderful about it.

  16. I did the same thing a few years ago. What I found was how much dentistry has changed – and for the better. It’s been four years of regular dental care without anxiety. Now the only thing I dislike about my dentist is the bill. Hang in there and sending positive vibes your way! (I’ll be singing Steve Martin’s version of “Be a Dentist” all day!)

  17. Good luck, Carole! You’ll be fine – and if the dentist chastises you? THAT’S when you should throw up on him… ;o)

    p.s. RR *hates* the dentist – he brings his iPod with him and listens to it while they work so he doesn’t have to hear the sounds of the equipment.

  18. Be strong – it’ll be ok. My daughter loves going to the dentist – she gets toys, balloons, and gets to pick from some great flavors of flouride. The entire staff is great and really make it a positive place for kids. I’m glad we found such an awesome pediatric dentist for her. Maybe you can come see her dentist :)!

  19. You know, the anticipation is always worse than the reality. I’ll be thinking of you this afternoon – be strong (and bring some knitting!)!

  20. OMG! Thanks for posting this. I thought I was the only one who’d gone for such a long time between visits. Now I see that there are many in the same boat. I’ll think good thoughts and maybe if you don’t get yelled at too bad I’ll be brave and go myself.

  21. Margene’s story is just like mine. I now go every three months for cleaning and it’s really does get easier the more often you go.

  22. It took me over 13 years to go back to the dentist, and I don’t regret it for a moment. Rather than shame me and berate me for not taking care of my oral health, the dentist gave me a big hug and congratulated me for getting back on the road to recovery. And they took lots of care making sure I was comfortable! Guess what? After six months of gentle, but very intense ‘restoration’, my mouth is a thing of beauty! And I enjoy going to the dentist now! It also helps that she has those video glasses, and I can watch Seinfeld reruns. 🙂 You can do it!! Keep us updated!

  23. They have much, much better methods now for fixing chipped and broken teeth (you don’t want to know how I know this). My dentist gives me three different kinds of numbing shots and I get so loopy I don’t mind having him work on my teeth.

    Good luck!

  24. Good thoughts sent your way!!

    It will be ok:) They’ve come up with some good stuff in the past seven years. I’ve even had a cavity filled without novacaine! No, pain, and no needles (excellent, since needles are my phobia).

  25. Good thoughts headed your way…I am the same way so I totally understand! I will be sending calming energy your way today…

  26. You are so not alone, Carole. I can’t think of the dentist without getting anxious. I’m thinking about you and know your visit will be just fine.


  27. Oh Carole, so glad that you’re committed to good oral health. I would be there with you holding your hand; alas however, that is not possible. So here is virtual handhold for you (clasp clasp)!!

  28. I haven’t been to a dentist in 4 years..I totally feel your pain.

    So make sure your dentist is hot. Takes away a great deal of anxiety.

  29. I’m with you. I haven’t been to the dentist since being laid off in 2003 and losing dental insurance. I know I need to go. I know my gums aren’t in the greatest shape. I just dearly hate the thought of it!

    I blame it on the hack dentist we had in the small town I grew up in. Every time we had to go to him, it was like stepping into a torture chamber. The dentist I was going to here is great, but those early memories are deeply instilled.

    My biggest issue at the dentist (not discounting the pain of the gum probes the hygenist does) is that I end up feeling like I can’t breathe. When they’ve got stuff in my mouth, including water for irrigation, my head’s back in an uncomfortable angle, and there are hands over my face reaching to my back teeth, it just feels like I’m going to suffocate. Outwardly, I probably look like I’m doing fine, but inside, I’m having a panic attack. Hate hate hate it.

    I also hate the hygenist. She (usually it’s a she) is the one who usually gives me the bigger “lecture” and inflicts the most pain during “deep cleaning” sessions. Ugh!

    Geez, I’m getting anxious just writing about it.

    Good luck! I know I need to go, so I’m hoping you post something afterwards about how it really wasn’t a big deal after all. 🙂

  30. Oh my friend I’m with ya – just chipped a back molar Friday night and just made an appt with a dentist myself for Aug. 5th and am DREADING it like there is no tomorrow – not just the actual appt but the ensuing cost which even with insurance is always a pain..Good luck today!!!

  31. I feel the same way as you do about the dentist and didn’t go for almost 10 years until I had a bad tooth. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be…..dentistry has come a long way 🙂

    Healing thoughts are heading your way!

  32. Hey Carole, Hang in there! It hopefully won’t be as bad as you expect. Sending healing thoughts your way!

  33. Me too! Good luck at the dentist. I’ve been avoiding it since I *know* it’s going to cost me a fortune and not to mention, I just don’t like the pain involved with keeping my mouth open for long periods of time.

  34. You’ve had some excellent advice! I always take my ipod (can’t take a little radio, as the dental equipment messes with reception) with some Enya or classical music. A muscle relaxer is a must for me, as I have TMJ. I also “get the gas” for everything, just to try to help with the TMJ. I hope that your dentist is as kind as mine is – no lectures! It’s a big step just to get in the chair, so kudos to you!!

  35. Been there, done that. Turned out the dentist I finally went to was one of the boy scout stretcher bearers I had supervised at LSU football games — I was a Red Cross first aid volunteer. Small enough world?

    My security is knitting in the waiting room and Bach on the headphones in the dental chair. Best wishes!

  36. I am so there Carole! I loathe the dentist and am freaking out in empathy 🙂

    Good luck and here’s a hug! ((((Carole))))

  37. i don’t even know how long it’s been because it’s been so long. i remember coming close to going, i had a tooth ache and contemplated going and then the tooth ache went away.

    anyway, now i avoid going because i just don’t want to get yelled at nor do i want the lectures or the whining and sighing that comes about because of all of the work that would need to be done to my teeth.

    so tell me how it is. ok?

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