Surviving At The Dentist (or When Will I Grow Out Of My Fear)

I had to go to the dentist this week for a regular cleaning. Although, for me, even a regular cleaning feels like a major procedure.

I’ve gotten to the point where I’m sick and tired of having panic attacks over the dentist. I tell myself over and over that things will be fine, but I’m still a mess when I get there.

While I’m happy that I have the timing of my panic pills down to a science so I know exactly when to take them in order to make things not as bad as they could be. But it’s still horrible going in.

This time, there was a combined panic because not only was I going to the dentist but because I was unable to find parking I was sure I was going to be late (I hate to be late and being late makes me feel a bit panicky as well). By the time I was walking up the stairs to the office, I was sweating like crazy and my vision was getting very dark (I’m lucky I never passed out).

I’m basically holding back on having a panic attack for the first few minutes of the appointment. Once the dental hygienist does the counting thing and moves on to the cleaning, I figure that any tragedy with my teeth (like cavities or something worse) would have already been discovered.

While I am grateful that my dental team knows how bad my fear is and is very accommodating for me, I’m ready for this fear to end. I haven’t had it my entire life so I feel like there should be an end date.

I’m not sure what I can do to make the fear go away. I know of hypnotherapy (which I’ve done before and it doesn’t work on me that well) and exposure therapy, but I don’t know if either would really help. And going to the dentist 3 times a year and having no problems is basically exposure therapy.

I’ve got the same frustration with my fear of flying. I’ll be flying in about 7 weeks and on the flight home, I might not be able to take my panic meds (I’ll be wine tasting that morning and you can’t mix alcohol and the medicine). I might skip the wine tasting to take my meds, but I wish there was a way to test myself to see if I really need them without actually flying without my meds.

So I’m reaching out to all of you for suggestions. Have any of you successfully gotten over something that you feared or had panic issues with? How did you do it? And how can you test if the fear/panic issues are really gone?

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