Dentist anxiety - new dentist made me feel lousy, but maybe I deserve it

(22 Posts)
middleager Wed 23-Dec-20 22:45:06

I'm 47. I've not been to a dentist in four years.
My teeth are prone to plaque but generally are OK so I tended to only go to my lovely, calm, reassuring NHS dentist every year, also, because I have a fear of the dentist and a deep shame of my gums (which I explain below) . I'm also a very anxious person with various anxieties.

My gums on the other hand are a nightmare and I have suffered from gum disease for a long time.

There was a time around five years ago that I was determined to tackle my gums. I saw the hygienist every three months, such were the state of my gums. However, the hygienist was private only, and it was costing around £100 each time which we couldn't afford.

So I stopped going to both the hygienist and dentist. The longer I left it, the worse my gums felt, my teeth had a large build up of tartar and I was deeply embarrassed. I have been brushing twice daily. Part of my fear stems from the thought of a needle in my very thin gums, the longer I leave it, the thinner the gums become.

Last Thursday my toothache started. I called my dentist, but as I'd not been in so long I could no longer be treated as an NHS patient, which is fair enough of course!

I booked an appointment as a private patient and was seen today by a dentist I've never seen before.

When I arrived, the dentist asked why I hadn't been for four years. I explained that I have a bit of a fear, am a very anxious person, and time elapsed. I apologised profusely. I said "I have a fear of the dentist". He said "so do I, but you must go!"

When I opened my mouth, he gasped. He said "your gums are terrible!" I said "I know, I'm sorry" I wanted to cry. My gums are bad, I know this. My teeth have lots of plaque.

He then quizzed me about my diet, as I had put on the medical form that I do eat chocolate. He asked me why a person with a fear of the dentist would eat chocolate and sweets. I could only reply "I'm anxious. It's that or antidepressants". This is not a joke by the way, my mental health is shot, but have not wanted to bother my GP since Covid started.

After the X-ray he said he'd identified a top wisdom tooth with a large cavity that needs to come out. When I enquired if I could have this out under sedation at the dental hospital like a previous wisdom tooth, he laughed and said "No. They wouldn't accept the referral"

I then asked about the pain I'm experiencing and he said he couldn't prescribe any antibiotics as my gums were so bad they might cause an abscess.

He says he won't touch the tooth til he's cleaned it, other teeth and my gums, over a number of sessions. He said my teeth aren't too bad but given my age, this will not last.
He gave me a schedule and a price list and I said I'd think about my options. I was in a bit of shock to be honest and just wanted to escape.

I left feeling even more ashamed and disheartened. I don't know what to do.
Am I overreacting? He did say to me he was very direct. Should I find a different dentist (but then have to start from scratch?).

OP’s posts: |
ButterMeUpScotty Wed 23-Dec-20 22:52:26

You don’t have to take that and you have nothing to be ashamed of. Find a new dentist who you are comfortable with.flowers

ChaToilLeam Wed 23-Dec-20 22:57:15

I have a phobia and hadn‘t been for ten years. I also have gum disease. My dentist was nothing but kind and understanding. Can you ask around in your area and find someone like that? An acquaintance recommended mine as his wife is also phobic but gets along well at this practice.

middleager Wed 23-Dec-20 22:59:35

Thank you. I don't feel like I have a right to be upset as I have done this to my mouth, not visited dentist, even though I do brush twice daily with an electric toothbrush (though admit I don't floss).

I really thought today I could restart my teeth care and try to repair some of the damage. I know I've messed up by not going to the dentist, but the toothache was a wake up call.

I feel it was £80 wasted if I have to go elsewhere and now I have to 'shock' another dentist with my gums and plaque.

OP’s posts: |
Perkyduck131 Wed 23-Dec-20 23:05:49

That’s awful, I recently went to the dentist after five years and my gums were also in a bad way-he was honest, but very kind. I would’ve been mortified if he’d made those comments. Agree with pp- find another dentist and make it clear from the initial form you are feeling anxious. Hope you’re ok.

AppleJane Wed 23-Dec-20 23:11:51

OP I'm sorry you've had a bad experience. You definitely will be able to find a kinder dentist.

And if a dentist asks you why you eat chocolate tell them 'to keep you in a job!'

mrstea301 Wed 23-Dec-20 23:15:48

What a terrible dentist!! There's no shame in it, some people's teeth are different from others - you'll have people that can eat sugar all day and not be up or down, and others whose teeth are just naturally more porous. My mum can't eat pineapple any more as it's too acidic and affects her gums too much. I'd shop around for a dentist you feel more comfortable with - maybe someone younger who'll be more modern? My sister has a terrible fear of the dentist and discussed it with her dentist, who figured out that it was the sound of the drill she didn't like, so let her wear headphones and blast music while work was getting done, and my sister said it was a million times better!!

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middleager Wed 23-Dec-20 23:16:32

Thanks. I'm just shocked and mortified too.

I know I need ask around/call a local clinic specialising in nervous patients and explain. Hoping if they can reuse the xrays the consultation may not be so expensive.

I thought dentists must see all types of teeth and conditions and am just shocked that he seemed so shocked/disapproving. I had tried to preempt his inspection by telling him that I already know my gums are bad.

I appreciate your kind comments and advice. I'm feeling a bit delicate tonight.

OP’s posts: |
MadameButterface Wed 23-Dec-20 23:23:07

Well he sounds like a dick. But, and i say this kindly, and in self awareness that this is many people’s pet peeve about mn, that people will pick up on a throwaway line in and op and go digging but anyway, would anti depressants be so very bad? My own anxiety is settling now after finally going on sertraline in the summer, and i’m kicking myself for not doing it sooner. There’s no shame in it. My brain makes the wrong chemicals, so i take synthetic ones. It’s no different from needing insulin or thyroxin.

TheYearOfSmallThings Wed 23-Dec-20 23:25:43

That dentist is an idiot. A massive part of a dentist's job is making the patient feel comfortable, motivating them to attend regularly and look after their teeth, and ensuring they complete the treatment required rather than running for the hills.

You can 100% find a different dentist who is not an asshole. Ask around your friends (or I can recommend a very patient dentist in London). Sorry you had such a lousy experience, but do persevere with getting your gums sorted.

Rosebuddydo Wed 23-Dec-20 23:26:13

Awwww no find someone else - definitely. That behaviour is not on from the dentist. I am terrified of going to the dentist. My teeth tend to be fine but I have a fear of the dentist that I can't help. If I am not happy with how I am treated then I go elsewhere. I tend to start out like you by saying I am very nervous. Definitely go elsewhere and do not feel bad about your teeth and gums - I understand the fear and it can feel awful.

Gandalf456 Wed 23-Dec-20 23:28:14

You don't feel comfortable with this dentist and neither would I, so, yes , definitely find another one - preferably NHS

BestWatcherInTheUnit Wed 23-Dec-20 23:28:28

What a rude bastard. You’re paying him! And if people didn’t have bad gums or teeth he wouldn’t make any money so he should wind his neck in. Definitely get a new dentist. Lots of people have gum and teeth problems, genetics play a part as well as diet, tooth care etc. It’s not a moral failing to have gum problems.

DianaT1969 Wed 23-Dec-20 23:31:40

I hope that you can find a better dentist. Perhaps ask for recommendations on NextDoor app.
Instead of flossing, I prefer the mini brushes that you use between your teeth. Superdrug have them. My dentist told me they were working well.
Could you increase brushing - but gently - to 3-4 times a day after each meal? Is there specifial toothpaste to control tartar? Do you take sufficient multivitamin and mineral supplements? Including a calcium one, of course.

middleager Wed 23-Dec-20 23:33:48

MadameButterface

Well he sounds like a dick. But, and i say this kindly, and in self awareness that this is many people’s pet peeve about mn, that people will pick up on a throwaway line in and op and go digging but anyway, would anti depressants be so very bad? My own anxiety is settling now after finally going on sertraline in the summer, and i’m kicking myself for not doing it sooner. There’s no shame in it. My brain makes the wrong chemicals, so i take synthetic ones. It’s no different from needing insulin or thyroxin.

No, not at all, but I worry the doctor will dismiss my anxiety, which happened once (see, told you I worry lots!).

I have tried sertraline in the past but it didn't have any impact, so gave up and tried to 'cure' my anxiety without any medication. I've lived with this now for years since, but it's worsened (like so many) during lockdown and I'm worried about being ignored or told I'm wasting the GP's time.

OP’s posts: |
Iwonder777 Wed 23-Dec-20 23:36:38

Dentist was an asshole. I'm sorry x

middleager Wed 23-Dec-20 23:39:54

DianaT1969

I hope that you can find a better dentist. Perhaps ask for recommendations on NextDoor app.
Instead of flossing, I prefer the mini brushes that you use between your teeth. Superdrug have them. My dentist told me they were working well.
Could you increase brushing - but gently - to 3-4 times a day after each meal? Is there specifial toothpaste to control tartar? Do you take sufficient multivitamin and mineral supplements? Including a calcium one, of course.

Thanks (and to everybody who has taken the time to reply).

I must admit when I stopped going to the hygienist I swore I'd do all I could to keep on top of the hygiene myself, but the flossing picks are barely touched. The inter dental brushes, I tried, but they felt too thick. I will look into them again thanks.

I have recently tried to incorporate vit C and D into my routine, so will aim for Calcium too thanks (I've been a vegetarian for 30 years and don't have as much calcium as I should). My gums also took a big hit during a twin pregnancy, I think, but these are still excuses as I know I can do better.

OP’s posts: |
MadameButterface Wed 23-Dec-20 23:53:52

“ I have tried sertraline in the past but it didn't have any impact, so gave up and tried to 'cure' my anxiety without any medication. I've lived with this now for years since, but it's worsened (like so many) during lockdown and I'm worried about being ignored or told I'm wasting the GP's time.”

Oh petal, i’ve been there! I know how hard it is to pluck up the courage to ask for help, then you somehow feel guilty when the meds don’t work. Weirdly i only managed to get up the courage to make a gp appointment about it all when we were in lockdown and it was all done over the phone. Oddly, i felt like a 5 min phone call wasted less of their time than a 5 min in-person appointment 🤷🏻‍♀️. Brains are weird old things. But listen. You have a chronic condition that is affecting your day to day life. You have every right in the world to seek treatment, and go on seeking treatment until you find one that helps, and no doctor worth the name would disagree. flowers

mrshonda Thu 24-Dec-20 00:02:02

I'm so sorry you're having problems OP. The dentist you saw was not the right one for you. Have a look at Dental Fear Central - it's a website and forum run by a retired dentist who treated anxious patients. One section has reviews of dentists from all over the UK who are great at treating nervous people, you can ask questions and get advice. A good dentist will not judge you and will only want to help.

Shaniac Thu 24-Dec-20 00:08:39

Sorry your dentist was an asshole. If you can try another one, lots of lovely reassuring ones, im very anxious with my teeth and have a nasty infection in my teeth right now my dentist was so reassuring and lovely on the phone and said teeth and gum issues are really common and nothing to be embarrassed about and that going to a dentist at all is brave.

middleager Thu 24-Dec-20 00:14:17

MadameButterface

“ I have tried sertraline in the past but it didn't have any impact, so gave up and tried to 'cure' my anxiety without any medication. I've lived with this now for years since, but it's worsened (like so many) during lockdown and I'm worried about being ignored or told I'm wasting the GP's time.”

Oh petal, i’ve been there! I know how hard it is to pluck up the courage to ask for help, then you somehow feel guilty when the meds don’t work. Weirdly i only managed to get up the courage to make a gp appointment about it all when we were in lockdown and it was all done over the phone. Oddly, i felt like a 5 min phone call wasted less of their time than a 5 min in-person appointment 🤷🏻‍♀️. Brains are weird old things. But listen. You have a chronic condition that is affecting your day to day life. You have every right in the world to seek treatment, and go on seeking treatment until you find one that helps, and no doctor worth the name would disagree. flowers

Thank you.
I know I need to tackle this too and wondering if a phone call might be better for me after all.

OP’s posts: |
middleager Thu 24-Dec-20 00:15:15

Thanks @Shaniac - that gives me hope too. Glad you are making progress.

OP’s posts: |

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