On Overcoming Fear of Tooth-Shaming & Cost To See A Dentist At Last
Ester Bloom

I went far too long with very serious dental problems because of fear. Fear of $. Fear of being shamed. Fear of bad expensive news. Fear of gagging. Fear of pain. And the hardcore fear of being supine and vulnerable.

By way of explanation — I had my two permanent front teeth knocked out, and the treatment for that was painful and baffling. The results were also aesthetically unappealing. Did I mention I was eight years old? Yeah. An inadequately numbed eight year old kid makes some severe memory ruts in the dental department.

ANYWAY, I only started going to the dentist again fairly regularly because I had a tooth go painfully bad, and a friend recommended her dentist and sat with me while I made the appointment.

I have many giant flags in my file about anxiety. Also noted are that I can gag more easily than we would all like. AND that my jaw dislocates easily.

Being forthright about being a Very Freaked Out patient helped. If my usual hygienist has a schedule change, the office calls me so I ca n decide whether I am in a place to try out a different human.

Declaring the situation still helps:

“I have some life going on right now and am more easily upset than usual.”

“May I have a warm neck pillow and a blanket?” (This is a Thing and after many flustered apologies on my part, the staff made it clear that it was very ok and helped them.)

I have dental insurance — it’s better than none — and the means to pony up for nitrous most of the time. It’s still daunting.

And yet, it’s better done than undone and dreaded.

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