I need some advice. I have avoided the dentist for years. It’s a long story, but my fear started when I was a child after a horrible experience. I started having a toothache which was pretty bad and decided I had to go in. It was equally horrible. He told me all my teeth are bad and I need to remove them and get dentures. He tried to insist I do it then saying I’d die if I didn’t. I started to cry and he essentially said I’m being a baby and did this to myself. Then said if I’m not going to do what’s necessary, I need to leave. I left devastated thinking even if I HAD to do this I didn’t want to do it with someone so insensitive. I’d rather give my money to someone else. But, I’m only 32 years old. Are dentures really my only option? I don’t want to look like my grandma. But, I also don’t want to die.
I’m sorry you’ve had such a disastrous experience for a second time. I want to assure you that not all dentists are like this. The behaviour of this dentist makes me question his diagnosis. First, most dentists try to save as many teeth as possible. If it’s not possible to save any teeth, the next best option is dental implants. I don’t know any dentists who would suggest full dentures. They’re a last resort kind of option because of all the drawbacks.
What I’d like you to do is get a second opinion. I’m optimistic at least some of your teeth can be saved. You only mentioned the one toothache. I don’t know if you had any symptoms of gum disease. Some ways to recognize that is gum tenderness and even bleeding when brushing your teeth. If it progresses too far, without treatment, it can cause you to lose your teeth.
As far as threatening death, a tooth infection left untreated can spread to the brain or heart, which will lead to death. Only the severely infected tooth would need to be removed, not all of them.
Whatever teeth you do end up losing, you are better suited having replaced with dental implants. That gives you a prosthetic tooth root which will protect you from losing jawbone. That shrunken look your grandmother has is from that loss of jawbone. It’s called facial collapse and is a side effect of dentures. You won’t have to worry about that from dental implants.
I also wanted to address your dental fear. Most patients with dental anxiety developed it in childhood just like you, due to a negative experience. I’ve found that many patients with dental anxiety do much better with dental sedation. The chance to have pain-free dental experiences generally changes their whole outlook on dentistry. Eventually, many don’t even need the dental sedation anymore.
It’s worth looking into, especially if you end up needing more than that one tooth worked on. It can allow you to get a significant amount of more work done than you normally could in one sitting, all without pain or stress.
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