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How can I help my friend see a dentist?


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Hi,

 

My work colleague is also one of my best friends. She's a bit younger than me and has basically brought herself up, as her mum was an alcoholic and then left her to live in New Zealand with her boyfriend a couple of years ago.

 

The problem is she has got into some pretty bad nutritional habits, (probably due to the fact she was left to eat/ drink whatever she wanted), and has told me she has suffered bulimia in the past. She eats a lot of sweets, chocolate and bottles of full sugar fizzy drinks.

 

He teeth are rotten. She has shown me her back teeth which are black with decay, and the enamel is chipping off her front ones. Now I have noticed one of her front teeth has turned black, which suggests to me that her tooth is starting to die.

 

I have had to have root canal recently, (no pain though it was discovered during a checkup) and was nervous, but my dentist is great and I totally trust him. But my friend is terrified of going. She says she won't ever go until she's in pain. She has never had toothache before, and I think she thinks it's similar to a headache. I have told her that the sooner she gets seen to, the better. I have even invited her to come with me so that she can meet everyone in the practice, but she says that she can't set foot inside a dentist without freaking out. I think as far as the pain goes, she is putting it to the back of her mind.

 

Is there anything I can do? I don't want to nag or scare her, and she's 20, she's an adult, but she is in serious danger of losing her teeth or being in agony. I don't want my friend to go through any pain.

 

Oh, we are in the UK BTW so she would get NHS treatment and it wouldn't cost a lot of money.

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If her teeth are black, they are pretty much dead - she's not feeling anything because the nerve has died. No pain doesn't equal no problem. She is looking at extractions and then potentially a denture or bridge to fill the gaps.

 

See if she can get a prescription from her doctor for a tranquilizer to get her through the door. We give tranquilizers at the dental clinic I work at so that nervous patients who literally cannot get through the door can manage to get in. That sounds like the best option for her, but she will need someone to take her and pick her up, since she won't be able for driving.

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If her teeth are black, they are pretty much dead - she's not feeling anything because the nerve has died. No pain doesn't equal no problem. She is looking at extractions and then potentially a denture or bridge to fill the gaps.

 

See if she can get a prescription from her doctor for a tranquilizer to get her through the door. We give tranquilizers at the dental clinic I work at so that nervous patients who literally cannot get through the door can manage to get in. That sounds like the best option for her, but she will need someone to take her and pick her up, since she won't be able for driving.

 

My dentist also offers sedation, and her ears pric ked up when I mentioned it. Basically a laughing gas, so she won't remember much when she goes through it. All I am initially aiming for is for her to sit with me while I get my crown cemented on, (20 mins), while my dentist tells her how he can sedate her.

 

She lives approx 15 mins away from me, and the dentist is a 5 minute walk from my house so we would have no problem if she was put under. Chances are they would only look at her teeth first anyway.

 

I have told my dentist all about her and he said he will give her a free check up after he's seen to me. We have her best interests at heart, but she won't budge so far.

 

I just don't want to push her away or get on her nerves.

 

I am having a filling replaced in a few weeks and then some whitening, (I have the opposite problem where I LOVE the dentist lol), so there will be other opportunities for her to go. I think she will need multiple root canal, crowns and fillings. I just hope no extractions are necessary. I feel so sorry for her.

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Does she care about her appearance? Maybe bring up how having rotten teeth can make her unnatractive. Its nice you care about your friend. Good luck!

 

I think she has kind of given up on herself.

 

When she first started working with me 2 years ago she was a little bit chubby but not nothing serious. Now she is at least 40lbs heavier and is getting bigger and bigger.

 

She has a very large chest for a young girl, 38K, and gets the wrong type of attention from guys. She is very self-conscious of her body and doesn't know how to dress for her shape. She won't take on any advice. She can be a bit immature like that. She thinks by someone suggesting something, they're treating her like a kid and gets stroppy, so people give up because of her attitude.

 

She has a bf who doesn't treat her right and all of her money and time is spent doing up her house with him. I think the only thing she derives pleasure from is junk food. She talks about food a lot, and is constantly nibbling at work.

 

You know, she is actually a beautiful girl. She has a gorgeous face, beautiful big grey eyes and loverly hair. She wears make-up and her hair is immaculate. She knows she needs to lose weight, she knows she should see a dentist because it looks unsightly. She is very, VERY matter of fact about things, it doesn't take another person to point these things out to her. She is just very defensive. And hates it when people try and advise her because she is young and takes it as people being condescending towards her.

 

 

Has anyone ever helped a friend/ family member get over a phobia? She has no phobia of doctors as she sees them a lot for this that and the other.... I find it weird she hates the dentist...?!

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I think it's really nice that you want to help your friend out. However, there's only so much that you do and say to her. I don't think she will ever realize how serious this problem will be until she starts to feel pain, and realize that she has to finally do something about it.

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I think it's really nice that you want to help your friend out. However, there's only so much that you do and say to her. I don't think she will ever realize how serious this problem will be until she starts to feel pain, and realize that she has to finally do something about it.

 

I think you're right. Maybe when I get my teeth whitened she'll come with me because it will be at a sister practice which only focuses on the cosmetic side of dentistry. I just don't want to see her suffer with the pain, or even the phobia itself can be terrible. She obviously knows she needs to have her teeth seen to, but is burying her head in the sand....

 

I just feel like, when I mentioned the sedation she seemed interested. My two other colleagues are currently suffering with their teeth since I had my pain free root canal. My boss lost his filling, and my other colleague chipped his tooth. I just hope she sees sense before it's too late.

 

I myself am going to get a heart check-up this year, as my dad died of a heart attack when I was a kid and I'm a bit paranoid about my own heart's health. Its a big step, I'm terrified, but I can't let that stop me.

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[...] All I am initially aiming for is for her to sit with me while I get my crown cemented on, (20 mins), while my dentist tells her how he can sedate her.[...]

 

Very kind of you, Stella. This part I wouldn't do. There are other ways to get sedation explained to her than pulling her into a room with sharp instruments. That could make it impossible to get her back there.

 

Consider an information appointment where dentist or staff could explain things out in the waiting room or at his desk, or gather info from the web and sit with her at a local coffee house...

 

Fingers crossed for you!

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She has no phobia of doctors as she sees them a lot for this that and the other.... I find it weird she hates the dentist...?!

 

It's not unusual. A lot of people with no other phobias have a problem with dentists. We get several patients who dislike coming to see us, including ones who have requested sedation or tranquilization.

 

To clarify, I was talking about tranquilizers that come in pill form, which you take before you actually see the dentist to relax you enough to enter the room, since some people can't even get that far. Sedation would only be once she's actually sitting in the chair.

 

I'm not sure how much sedation she can get on the NHS. I work for a private clinic and sedation costs about £400 with us, so be sure to get a quote for what they're willing to sedate her for under the NHS - they're not known for being very giving.

 

Good luck with it I think it's great you're trying to help her get over it.

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I can understand how your friend can be scared of the dentist. I can't say I have a phobia but I do tend to get nervous around dentist's.

 

I had no idea you can take tranquilizers to go too the dentist. That would definitely make it a lot easier on me to go.

 

Stella you are such a great friend to be concern about your friends health. You need to get her to understand that with bad teeth can also lead to all kinds of health problems if not taken care of properly.

 

I know that idea scared me enough to go to the dentist.

I hope your friend get to the dentist soon.

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Thanks to everyone who's posted on this thread. You've been very encouraging which is great

 

Well, I went and got my temporary crown today.... alone! She was having none of it! She told me that she wasn't in pain, as if she thinks pain is the only indication she needs that something needs doing NOW.

 

Since she was so straight talking, in her know-it-all way, I spoke to her with the same matter of fact attitude. I turned to her and said, "You're probably not in pain because your teeth may have died, seeing as you haven't seen a dentist for about 8 years."

 

She looked puzzled. "What do you mean? Died?"

 

"Well, the nerve of your tooth can die over time. If you bash it or if you get an infection. You might not get any pain, but dead teeth carry infection and they will either fall out or the infection will spread."

 

She just started at me.

 

"My back tooth died. That's why I couldn't feel any pain with my abscess. If it hadn't been for my gum developing a fistula, I wouldn't have known and the infection would have eroded my upper jaw bone."

 

She said, "Well I don't need to go because I'm not in pain. If it isn't physically bothering me I won't force myself to go."

 

So I said, "Ok. I have my temporary crown this afternoon. Then next week I have it fitted. Then I have a filling to book, then the hygienist will have a little clean up, then I'm getting them whitened for my birthday. The offer is open if you want to come with me. If not I'll pick up a card with their emergency phone number on it, because if you're only going to go when the proverbial hits the fan hun, you'll need it at hand."

 

I know it sounds harsh but I have tried the softly softly approach and it's just not working. She changed the subject then and we had a laugh and a joke about something we'd seen on tv. I suppose there is only so much you can do. She is stubborn at the best of times, and this topic has certainly made her dig her heels in.

 

I guess its down to her. My dentist said he would gladly call her and speak to her to put her mind at ease, and I spoke to her about visiting her GP to get tranquilizers... She doesn't want help though.

 

I hate giving up on people like this, but she just won't budge.

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Well, you tried it was good of you to give it a shot but like you say, at the end of the day she has to want to do it.

 

Just be a good friend and don't say 'I told you so' when she calls you in screaming agony.

 

I know, but to be honest I wouldn't wish tooth ache on my worst enemy. It is the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life. I think I'd probably cry with her then sit with her through it until I knew she was ok.

 

I'm the opposite. Its the pain that terrifies me. When I saw that fistula on my gum and googled it, and it said "leaking abscess which can only be remedied by root canal or extraction", the only thing that made me panic was the word abscess because I know how agonizing they are!

 

I was at the dentist about 15 minutes later and felt instant relief just sat in the waiting room.

 

I think for her, it's unfortunately going to be a case of OMG this could have all been avoided. My root canal will cost me from start to finish £140 on the NHS. But times that by 3, 4 , 5 , 6 + teeth......... She might only need 3 or 4 trips to the dentist for fillings, but for my one root canal it has taken 3 to date, and one to go! The worst part in this for her, I anticipate, is that the longer she leaves it, the more time she's going to have to spend in the one places she's scared of going!

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