Short story: dentists scare the crap out of me, but I have a broken tooth and need to go to the dentist tomorrow. I can’t even think straight today because of the anxiety.
Long story: I’ve never taken great care of my teeth. I know I should brush more often, get cleanings more often, not eat candy or drink soda, yada yada yada. I always feel so intensely guilty about not taking care of my teeth better that I’m afraid to show the dentist my teeth. Partly because my childhood dentist would always scold us for having cavities/plaque/gingivitis. Partly because I’m the kind of person who feels intense guilt for things that aren’t really my fault or aren’t big deals if they are.
Also, a few years back, I broke a molar on my right side. I wanted to save the tooth, so I opted for a root canal. The root canal ended the intense, sharp pain I was experiencing, but I still wasn’t able to apply pressure to that tooth (as in, eat with that tooth). I know, I should have called them up, asked what the deal was, gotten it fixed right away, but I didn’t. I was freaking out so hard during the root canal that I couldn’t handle another one.
So for the last 3 years, I’ve chewed exclusively on the right side. Now, I’ve broken a molar on the right side, and there’s nowhere safe to eat anymore. I’ve been trying to make do, but I can’t. I’m miserable. Both sides of my mouth ache. I’m constantly hungry because I’m just eating enough to not feel sick, but then my teeth hurt and I stop.
I mustered my courage this morning and called the dentist. Yes, it’s the same office that did my last (incomplete) root canal. They’re the only ones in my area that accept my husband’s dental insurance and have a financing program (since insurance won’t cover all of it). I explained multiple times that I have a dental phobia, so I’m hoping it’s all over my record and they’ll be kind to me.
Sedation isn’t covered by my insurance, and I can’t afford to pay out of pocket for nitrous oxide + dental work (probably root canal & crown). I can usually keep my anxiety under control through deep breathing, meditation, etc. but that’s just not possible in a dentist chair with fingers in my mouth and bright lights in my eyes.
Here’s where I need advice.
- How do other dentist-phobic people deal with the anxiety of going to the dentist without sedation/valium?
- what should I say/do about the incomplete root canal?