Fear of the Dentist

Lately my teeth have been very sensitive which has me concerned. I absolutely hate going to the dentist, even though I used to go to my dad. Actually I like going to the dentist for cleanings but I hate dental procedures. They give me severe panic attacks. So much so that I think about it all the time and it will even wake me up in the middle of the night. Doesn’t even have to be near an appointment time. I’m hoping that my teeth are sensitive because I brush my teeth too hard and clench at night. Not that I want my teeth to be sensitive but I’d rather it be those reasons instead of cavities or worse. I used to have cavities as a child which is when my fear began. My parents used to threaten to take me to another dentist because I was so scared in the office that they felt it made my dad look bad. Of course that only terrified me more. I always hated how I was treated and should have stopped going to him for years but that’s a difficult thing to tell your dad; that you don’t want to be seen as his patient anymore. It’s hard though because he doesn’t treat me like a normal terrified patient. He previously made the comment to me, “what you think you know better than me, now that you’re a doctor as well.” He said this to me at his office. No nothing like that at all, where did that even come from? I’m just like any other terrified patient hoping that they don’t really need this procedure. Months later when I complained about this behavior to my family they blamed his substance abuse. I know, another reason why I should have stopped going to him years ago. Obviously he had been denying his abuse and we didn’t really know at the time. Since the incident he has been to rehab and does routine testing. Anyhow, I’m sure his abuse was a factor in changing his personality, however, I don’t think that was the real issue. One, I doubt he was under the influence while working and two, he has made these comments previously before his addiction even started. For example, when I was young and shaved my legs for the first time he said to me, “oh just because you shave your legs now you think you’re a women?” He said this to me in front of all of my older brother’s friends. I was so embarrassed I didn’t want to be seen the rest of the weekend. So my family can attempt to blame his more recent outburst on substance abuse but I’m not convinced because he has a history of making rude comments. Either way, now I’m left with a continued life long fear of the dentist. I know it’s much better to try and catch things early but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to have intense anxiety about it the whole time. At least now days I’ll be going to someone else.

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