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  (#1 (permalink)) Old
graphitesine Offline
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Teeth/Cavities - December 30th 2018, 06:54 AM

Hi there, I'm Madi and this is my first actual post here besides my intro. It's kind of a strange topic to start off with, but I'm not quite sure what to do.

Let me start with this: my parents, since having me, have rarely been healthy. I was homeschooled a majority of my life and we moved around a lot, just settling down in the last couple years, so I had no outside influences. They brush their teeth on a regular basis like normal human beings but they never taught me healthy habits like that and so I just...never really learned that I needed to brush my teeth. (I know, I know, that's bad and gross, I've learned since, trust me!!!!)

When we moved here, I went to go get checkups and my dentist told me I had a few cavities on both sides of my mouth. She told me, hey, uh, brush your teeth, and for a while I did but on my own without anyone but a dentist/stranger telling me I needed too I eventually fell out of it. She also told me I have strong teeth but weak enamel, so once cavities actually got into my teeth it was harder to keep them from spreading. (At least, that's what I remember. I could be wrong about the logic, but I do know for sure she said I had strong teeth and weak enamel) So I went in for a filling, and this happened about 5-6 months ago. I went in completely calm, and then got The. Worst. Dentists. They were really rough during the process, they didn't give me warning over anything, just kind of randomly shoving things and needles inside my mouth and the only communication I got was "Close." when they wash out your mouth and need to take the water back out. The numbing agent also didn't work well, and I don't know if that's because of them or me, but they kind of just went in without worrying about how much of it I could feel (spoiler: a lot.)

Anyway, I got a really intense panic attack really quickly that lasted the whole thing and was brushed off as shaking from the numbing agent. It ended up weakening my immune system a lot from the stress, and I got sick for almost three weeks, missing a whopping 12-14 days of school. As such, I've gained a really bad fear of dentists (Seeing as I've had 3 appointments in like 5 years, two of them were over a year and a half ago, and my most recent, and longest one I had a horrible panic attack the entirety of) and my cavities have only gotten worse. The sensitivity you gain after a filling never really ebbed for me, and it's worrying that I don't know if those cavities were even filled, I've still got the ones on my other side and I developed a horrible one on my front tooth and I've recently noticed ones developing on two other nearing-front teeth. Since that appointment it's kind of been a wakeup call and I've been trying hard to work on my brushing habit, but sometimes I'll fall out of it for a good few days and feel horrible. I don't want to tell my parents, because they'll throw me back to that dentist office as they don't think anxiety or depression is real. But at the same time, I don't know how much more I can do before a filling won't help or I lose teeth altogether at 14.

This is pretty long, but I didn't really know how to sum all of that up (I've always had a problem with keeping on topic with things like this, so no surprise for me there aha) and this might even be considered venting as I don't really know how much can be done, but even so just getting this off my chest might help me think more clearly...idk aha. like i said at the top, still super new to support group...forum...things. yeah.
   
  (#2 (permalink)) Old
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Re: Teeth/Cavities - December 30th 2018, 05:15 PM

Hey Madi,

I'm so sorry to hear about your experience with that dentist! That sounds absolutely horrible. I've also had problems in the past with numbing agents, and my dentist would always tell me to raise my hand (but not the one closest to her, because then I might punch her out or something) if something was bothering me so that she could correct it. I remember that there was one time in particular when she gave me more of the numbing agent because I was experiencing pain. If you are feeling pain, definitely tell them! That should not happen under any circumstances. I don't know if your parents would be open to this, but it might be worth asking them if you can switch dentists because of your past experience. However, because they don't believe that anxiety is real, they might not be open to this idea, unfortunately. Teen years can be tough because you don't always have the ability to pick and choose where you go or what doctors you see.

If you are noticing cavities, I highly recommend getting them filled now. You're young, and if you let them go too long, it's possible that you might need a crown or a root canal, which can be pretty expensive. A root canal in particular is a fairly invasive procedure, so it's always best to avoid that. But I know that this is hard because of your last experience with the dentist - after that, it's very understandable that you would have anxiety about going! My advice, if you're not able to change dentists, is to communicate with them to the best of your ability. Tell them up front that last time the numbing agent wasn't effective and that you were in pain, and also ask if they can give you a warning prior to giving you a needle or sticking things in your mouth. I hope that this is something that they would be receptive to as professionals.

Although it's scary, it's really important that you get those cavities taken care of sooner rather than later. Remember that doing the fillings now is ultimately better than having to go in for a root canal, which generally takes longer, is more invasive, and is more uncomfortable. If you're feeling anxious during the fillings, try to practice visualization; that's something that's helped me in the past with these kinds of procedures. Pretend you're doing something that you love, such as a hobby or spending time with an animal. Try your best to keep your mind off the procedure itself, and remind yourself that it will be over soon. That's something that also really helps me - reminding myself that the end is in sight. When I was little, my mom used to tell me, "The sooner you do it, the sooner it will be over," and I've found that it's really true!

I really hope this helps. I wish you the best of luck!

Last edited by Recommencer; December 31st 2018 at 01:33 PM.
   
  (#3 (permalink)) Old
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Re: Teeth/Cavities - December 30th 2018, 07:45 PM

Hi Madi, welcome to TeenHelp!

I agree entirely with Recommencer - although it might be really scary, it's better to get the cavities taken care of now rather than waiting. It's very possible that the longer you wait, the scarier and more invasive the procedure might be. I know that sucks to think about and puts you in a really awful position, given how traumatic your experience was, but getting it out of the way quickly seems like your best option.

However, it's very possible that your next experience will be different! I'm surprised that the dentist didn't really communicate anything to you about what was going on (that seems unkind and unprofessional of them), but if you ask them to, they may be accommodating. I also strongly recommend that you tell them if anything hurts, because you definitely are supposed to be completely numb during a filling. It might help to have one of your parents, or really any other adult, in the room with you - even if all they do is sit there, the dentist might feel more accountable and pay more attention to whether they are causing you pain if they know they are being "watched." But if you are hurting at any point, definitely speak up! Raise your hand, make some kind of noise, etc. It would be incredibly unprofessional and unethical of them to ignore you.

Dealing with anxiety in this kind of situation is tough. If you can change dentists, even within the same practice (which wouldn't require switching offices or insurance or anything), I definitely would. Some dentists are awful, but some are really kind and will walk you through everything and will make sure they're not hurting you. You can probably google dentists' names to read some reviews that other patients have left to help you choose one. But if you can't change dentists, there may be a few things you could try to help you stay calm, like listening to music/podcasts/an audiobook through headphones during the procedure. Dentists will usually allow this! Some also have the option to let you watch a movie while they're working. If those are both a no-go, you could also just try to daydream a bit to distract yourself or go through some grounding techniques, like the 54321 method, progressive relaxation, etc. Maybe also consider letting your parents and the dentist know that sometimes you have panic attacks, and if X happens (e.g., you're shaking), it's because of anxiety, not because of the numbing agent, and you might need them to take a break or check in with you to make sure you're doing okay.

Hopefully this helps. I'm really sorry that you had such a traumatic experience, and I hope that the next time is better! Best of luck to you, and please take care of yourself.
   
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Re: Teeth/Cavities - December 30th 2018, 09:23 PM

Yeah, my sister had to get a root canal when she was younger and it really sucked. Now that you guys mention it, I do remember seeing a parent in with their kid when I went to an appointment (not the bad one, I think it might've been the one before that at the same place) and didn't think much of it, but the kid seemed quite a bit younger than me (maybe 9-10?) so that might've been it. I'll ask my parents about that! They wouldn't take anxiety as a reason, but they'd probably do that if I told them that the stress of my last appointment was freaking me out a bit

And I'll ask about the music! I listen to music a lot when trying to calm myself down after a close call with an anxiety attack or from one, and I hadn't even thought about that!

Thanks for the advice guys <3
   
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Re: Teeth/Cavities - December 31st 2018, 07:18 PM

Let us know how it goes!!
   
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Re: Teeth/Cavities - January 1st 2019, 07:53 PM

I know of people who take meds before they see the dentist (e.g. xanax, valium). I used to work for a dentist and it was actually pretty common for people to take an anxiety med prior to coming - just make sure you clear it with the dentist before you go because depending on what kind of anesthetic they use, they might want to use another tactic to help with the anxiety.

Did you let your dentist know that it was hurting you ? I am quite surprised they didn't give you more of the freezing. I've had to get a few cavities over the years due to the fact that I am at higher risk for cavities (I am very careful to prevent them though by daily brushing and flossing, limiting sugary drinks, etc). I've seen multiple dentists because I've also moved several times. And I always need extra freezing and every dentist has accommodated that because most of them aren't sadistic and would rather that I am waaaaaay too frozen than have me be uncomfortable.

I would recommend that you see another dentist. You can tell them about your experiences too they will accommodate that in the treatment plan to take care of the cavities.

I would strongly encourage you to deal with the cavities too because it can get worse. For example, it could get to the point where the nerve for the tooth is damaged and you need a root canal or even a full blown extraction, though most dentists do whatever they can to avoid removing teeth, and you don't want to need a root canal if you can avoid it. It can even affect the gums and bone surrounding the tooth. As scary and uncomfortable as a filling can be, it's a much better process to do that and avoid it becoming a bigger deal later.

I'm not trying to make it worse for you, it's not like you have to rush in there tomorrow. So here's what I suggest:

1. Look for a new dentist. If you have anxiety about going now, you're not likely to enjoy this current dentist any more and you should look into getting a new dentist. Do whatever is necessary, such as seeing which dentists are covered by your insurance, look for reviews online, make sure that your insurance provider will cover the change (e.g. they all have different rules -- it might be that you can get 1 new-patient exam a year, a cleaning every 4 or 6 or 9 months, which changes depending on plan, and a full exam with a cleaning from the hygienist and check up with the dentist every 6 or 9 or 12 months, again depends on the plan, and you might be able to get routine procedures like fillings on cavities filled up to 80% up to a $600 yearly max, just as an example). Don't worry about the insurance though if you're covered by your parents -- just let them you plan to see a new dentist and let them deal with that.

2. Book an appointment. If you see a new dentist, you will probably have an initial new patient exam with xrays, gum-health exam, etc. a cleaning by the hygienist and a visit from the dentist to discuss the results of the xrays, gum health concerns, etc. and he/ she/ they will tell you what needs to happen next. In terms of dental appointments, this should be fairly low stress because it would be very rare that a new dentist would do anything like a filling on the first appointment unless the situation was very dire (and even then, you could just say no, and book an appointment for the next day/next week to come back so you can prepare for that work
- I would recommend asking them to tell you over the phone what they will do during this first appointment so that nothing will be unexpected.

3. Ask for a detailed plan and if they can write it down for you. For example, if they say you need 3 fillings on the left side of the mouth, and 2 on the right side, ask questions such as if they can do 3 in 1 session and 2 in a 2nd session, which teeth they are, how long it will take, if you can take anything in advance for the anxiety and if they can prescribe it, etc.

4. Book those appointments within a week of your appointment. It might mean you have 3 dentist appointments within a month, but think about what a relief it will be later when you no longer have to go to the dentist for more fillings AND have no cavities you have to worry about

5. Ask you dentist for advice on better dental hygiene if brushing is a problem for you.
   
  (#7 (permalink)) Old
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Re: Teeth/Cavities - January 1st 2019, 08:14 PM

Thanks for the advice!
   
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