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OpryLeigh's avatar

When was the last time you went to the dentist?

Asked by OpryLeigh (25251points) June 21st, 2012

I remember answering a similar question a couple of years ago but since there are lots of new users I thought I would ask it again.

I am TERRIFIED of the dentist and haven’t been for a few years now (partly due to my fear but mostly due to the cost). However, today I had to make a booking because one of my fillings (cavaties) fell out.

What is the longest you have gone without seeing the dentist and, when you returned after a lengthy absence, did you have to have any major work done?

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52 Answers

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Too long ago and now I simply have to go but I can’t even handle the thought. I know that it is making things worse but I am PETRIFIED!

gailcalled's avatar

Three weeks ago for a crown and have the second appointment to finish the work on Monday. The enamel on the tooth had cracked and crazed. I got to see it, enlarged, on the computer screen after they dangled a wee camera in my mouth.

Assuaging pain is much better than it used to be; formerly the first few pricks of the Novacaine were very uncomfortable, but now the dentist uses a topical numbing agent so I feel nothing when that first needle “prick” enters my gums.

I go three times a year routinely; it prevents very expensive work, for the most part, and I can deduct the fees from my adjusted gross income when I do my taxes.

cookieman's avatar

About a year and a half ago. I’m waaay overdue. It’s a matter of cost as my dental insurance is mediocre.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

Last week. 6 days ago. Just went in for a cleaning, no problems or anything.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@gailcalled Thank you for the reassurance, I needed to hear that.

I’m also glad to hear that I am not the only one who is overdue a visit and scared! Having said that, my boss just told me that he hasn’t been for 8 years! My last visit wasn’t that long ago!!

DominicX's avatar

About six months ago, actually. My next appointment is coming up…

rebbel's avatar

Muft haf been fifs yeaf ago, af leasf.

wundayatta's avatar

Earlier this week, I got a root canal capped off. Next week I have a cleaning. My dentist now accepts my insurance, and the root canal dude accepted my insurance as payment in full. I didn’t have any out of pocket costs, which was very nice. I’ve been with this dentist for 20 years or so. He always charged full list price before and we paid whatever insurance didn’t pay. Times must be seriously bad if he is willing to accept insurance now. I would love to know what caused that change.

Aethelwine's avatar

Nine years ago. I’ve been without dental insurance since then.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

In the past, it was every six months. Now I just go once a year. With daily brushing, and more importantly, flossing, I haven’t had a problem since my braces came off in the mid 70’s. I still have and wear my retainers on occasion to keep my teeth from shifting like my older siblings’ have.

Coloma's avatar

Had my teeth cleaned about a month ago. I go 2x a year on average.
No fear, I’d rather go to the dentist than get a pap smear or a mammogram. haha

mattbrowne's avatar

Every person should visit the dentist every six months. The entire life. That’s the official recommendation in Germany. So that’s what I do. This involves less pain or no pain at all, because things don’t get out of hand. In Germany if you don’t go twice a year, health insurance will cut benefits if dental prosthesis becomes necessary.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I share your phobia of dentists. I know there’s no reason for it, but there it is.

I went without seeing one for about 5 years, because I lost my insurance. I was forced to return recently to have a molar pulled that had mysteriously split down the middle. I honestly have no idea how it happened. The dentist said it could have been in my sleep or eating a nut.

I had my teeth cleaned soon after that, and I’m returning for another cleaning in 2 months.

deni's avatar


DigitalBlue's avatar

It’s been a little over a year.
I went 7 years without seeing a dentist (no insurance), and I had to have a filling (my only filling) replaced. That’s it.

I don’t mean to be a jerk, but, I don’t understand how people aren’t afraid of the dentist. It hurts. Everything they do is painful. I’m not afraid to go to the dentist, but, I definitely dislike it.

gailcalled's avatar

@DigitalBlue: Speak for yourself. My dental procedures are pain-free.

Switch dentists, perhaps. Ask for some pain relief, perhaps.

DigitalBlue's avatar

@gailcalled maybe my mouth is particularly sensitive. I’ve never been to a dentist that didn’t hurt me.

YARNLADY's avatar

I have dental issues, and I go for a cleaning every three months. I have found a dental hygienist who is very tender and her work doesn’t hurt. What does hurt is the way my body tenses up and all my muscles go stiff, plus my jaw hurts.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@Leanne1986 Does NHS cover any dental costs?

King_Pariah's avatar

I had gone roughly 3 years without seeing a dentist. When I finally went (which was July of last year) the dentist said my teeth were perfect minus the little bit of steak that was caught in the small crevasse that resulted from my wisdom teeth removal.

Sunny2's avatar

5 months ago. 6 month check up due next month. It’s been so long since I’ve had any pain at all at the dentist, that I don’t dread going anymore. Even the root canal I had over 6 years ago, there was NO pain. I was asleep.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer Some surgeries are NHS run but most seem to have gone private nowadays and because they are in high demand, the few NHS surgeries that are left are over subscribed so you are put on a waiting list.

mrrich724's avatar

I go every six months. But even if you went once a year, the cost of an annual check up is far better to get stuck with than the cost of a MAJOR issue coming up down the road b/c you didn’t go in for your annual check up and catch it before it got too big!


Neizvestnaya's avatar

Last year, I’m due for a cleaning which I LOVE.

JLeslie's avatar

I was at the dentist 6 months ago to repair a bonding. I last had a regular cleaning about 9 months ago, so I am over due. Probably the longest I have gone without seeing the dentist is 18 months. I have never had a cleaning that was extremely uncomfortable, even when there was a lot to clear away.

I can only assume some people actually do feel more pain in their mouths than others. Having my teeth cleaned is rarely painful, maybe a little uncomfortable at times. Also, once I realized I was allergic to latex, the majority of the irritation I felt before is now gone.

mattbrowne's avatar

For those suffering from a serious dentist phobia it’s better to swallow a valium pill twice a year before they go to the dentist. You will not get addicted to valium using pills in that way.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I thought I would post an update as I went to the dentist today for the first time in a long time. I was absolutely terrified, so much so that, when the dentist called me in, I burst into tears!

I don’t think the dentist was used to dealing with very nervous people and I wish she had been a little more sympathetic but still, she was very sweet (the dental nurse, not so much!)

They did an XRay and I need to fillings (one of which I already knew about), one of the cavaties is close to the nerve but she doesn’t believe it will be a root canal treatment. I’m most afraid of this one because, if it is close to the nerve, I am concerned that there is more of a chance it will be painful. Maybe I am being irrational and a filling is a filling, regardless?!

She would also like me to have one of my wisdom teeth removed but said that it wasn’t a massive priority as it isn’t giving me any discomfort at the moment.

I’m glad I have made the first move and faced my fear of the dentist chair but it will be a long time until I am cured of it all together. Thankfully I found a forum specifically for people with dentist phobias and some of the stories on there make me feel better about my own.

JLeslie's avatar

@Leanne1986 Was the cleaning very painful for you?

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Thank you for the update. Many people fear a visit to the dentist office, so it’s understandable how you feel. Let’s face it; there is nothing pleasant about it. It’s awkward, intrusive, and sometimes painful. It’s also good to hear that you found a forum for this specific topic. The members may or may not be directly related to the dental industry, but there is a certain value in others’ opinions.

Fortunately, with new technology and medication, the procedures seem to be much more bearable these days. What helps me is to ask about how a procedure will take place. Knowing what to expect has a degree of a calming effect.

gailcalled's avatar

In three hours my answer will be “earlier today.”

My dentist is so sensitive to my body language that whenever I give the slightest twitch or involuntary squeak, he stops and asks me whether I am ok.

JLeslie's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer Actually a lot of people are like @Neizvestnaya, they love going to the dentist. And, then there are also many people who dread it.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@JLeslie I didn’t have to have any kind of cleaning in the end. My dentist said my teeth were lovely and clean. That made me feel a bit better about the situation.

I will say one thing that I am concerned about. The dentist I saw was not a native English speaker and she had a strong accent. There were times when I struggled to understand what she was saying which bothers me because I want to be really aware of what is going to happen during the procedure. I felt bad asking her to repeat herself so many times today but I really need to be sure that I understand certain things.

JLeslie's avatar

@Leanne1986 I find it rather odd that you did not need any type of cleaning. I asked because if the cleaning had not been very painful, going more regularly might take away some of your fear regardinng the process.

I think it is very reasonable to want to be able to communicate easily with a health care provider. It is one of the things I am very aware of with my MIL living in America and not speaking English. When we are worried about our health or nervous about a medical procedure we want to feel completely understood and that we understand what is happening.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@JLeslie I thought it odd too but I am a bit OTT when it comes to how often I brush my teeth so maybe that has something to do with it. I may speak to her about it more at my next appointment if I feel I can cope with more information about my teeth at the time!

JLeslie's avatar

@Leanne1986 I don’t know what OTT is, but I will assume it means you brush a lot. So, maybe you didn’t need cleaning? Although, you have cavaties, so I assume that implies some sort of bad stuff is hanging around and eating away at your teeth? I am not a dental expert that’s for sure. I also think it might be possible the UK looks at dental care differently than the US. It’s a stereotype over here that the UK is not as focused on teeth, altough I assume that has changed in the last 20 year. Bad teeth, meaning not perfectly straight teeth and yellowed, was kind of a give away to us that the person might be British. However, I would also argue the US is too obsessed with perfectly white straight teeth to almost a fanatic rate.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@JLeslie OTT = over the top

My teeth are nice and white but I agree that, seeing as I need fillings, it’s not always easy to brush every single nook and cranny clean so I will find out why she didn’t feel the need to clean my teeth.

People in the UK are much more concerned about their teeth nowadays, in my experience. I am seeing more and more adults wearing braces which they would have had to pay thousands of pounds for (the NHS only supplies free braces up to a certain age) and, if I could afford it, I would do the same. My teeth aren’t really crooked but they aren’t as straight as I wish they were and I never had braces as a child.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I, too, go every six months. Fortunately, I have 100% dental coverage.

OpryLeigh's avatar

Another update:

I went back to the dentist yesterday to have my two fillings. The first one (lower jaw) was fairly pain free but the second one (upper jaw) was uncomfortable. The injection really hurt (not sure why it didn’t hurt in my lower jaw) to the point it bought tears to my eyes. I wasn’t completely numb when she started drilling so I had to have a second injection. To make it worse, the dentist put a temporary filling with some medicine to soothe the nerve and I have to go back next week to have the temp filling taken out and the permanent one put in. Really not looking forward to that as the idea of having that painful injection again worries me a lot.

gailcalled's avatar

There are many more nerve endings in the upper jaw, particularly towards the back. I had major work done there last month and had much more novocaine than I have gotten on the bottom.

@Leanne1986: Ask your dentist to swab a local anesthetic on the spot a few minutes before he sticks the needle in. Here in my town it is routine.

JLeslie's avatar

@Leanne1986 So sorry it was so miserable. Did you let them know you are nervous with dental procedures? They might be more careful about how painful it might be. @gailcalled is right that the upper jaw tends to be more sensitive. And, that they can numb the area before the shot a little with some topical anesthetic. Mention to them next time that you did not get all the way numbed well, and they might give you a little more novocaine to be on the safe side.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@JLeslie I did tell them I was nervous but I was made to feel a bit like a drama queen. After my treatment on Monday I am going to try and find a dentist that is a litte better at dealing with fearful patients.

gailcalled's avatar

@Leanne1986: Also with pain management. They go arm in arm, so to speak, with a good dentist.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@gailcalled thank you, I definitely will.

JLeslie's avatar

@Leanne1986 That’s awful. Times like that I hope karma is a real thing, and they one day learn a lesson when their fears are not taken seriously. I think you are right to seek someone else.

wundayatta's avatar

My dentist makes a big deal out of how they deal with pain. They try very hard to make the experience as painless as possible. They do a pretty good job, but perhaps their concern is more important than their actual success. The point is they try to listen to their patients. Not every dentist does that.

If I were a dentist, I would operate that way, too. Focus on pain prevention. Let the patients know that is my concern, and they should let me know if they feel anything and I will do everything I can to eliminate the pain. I think that fear of pain is probably worse than pain, and knowing the dentist is on my side means more than his or her ability to actually prevent all the pain.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@Leanne1986 How did the appointment to get the permanent filling put in go? Are you flossing daily now?

OpryLeigh's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer It was less painful than I was expecting thank goodness and it was all done in 15 mins. Don’t have to go back until January. It’s safe to say that I am looking after my pegs even more nowadays as do not want to have more work done in January!!

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

That’s wonderful news! Thank you for the update.

gailcalled's avatar

Keep a container of floss next to your computer. With practice, you can floss and read at the same time.

gailcalled's avatar

^^ Initially it will require ferocious concentration.

trailsillustrated's avatar

when I was in dental school – 25 years ago? and a couple of years ago for a cleaning, the upsell was ridiculous, I was given the scare camera in the mouth, read my own x-rays while waiting for the exam, was told I needed a couple thousand dollars of crown work. When I very politely declined I got a letter a couple days later not to come back haha

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