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Battling My Fear of the Dentist as a Person on the Autism Spectrum

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I am really, really afraid of going to the dentist. I’ll be in a heightened state of panic weeks before, which is really bad for my body and mind and devastating for me. I’ll have panic attacks and gag reflexes, and I’ll be so tense I might harm myself accidentally (or deliberately at times) by clenching my fist so I dig my nails in, and I’ll be sore in my arms and legs the next day. And all this even if I have never had to do any real scary dentist work or had a really bad experience. I think it might have something to do with lying down in that chair and feeling like I’m losing all control. Just writing this is making me uncomfortable, and slightly nauseous.

I am thinking about this because it was a while… well, actually, way too long since I have been for a checkup. I don’t feel anything weird or wrong, but there still might be. I have horribly crooked wisdom teeth; they grow outwards, towards my cheeks, but they don’t bother me.

The last time I had to book an appointment, I could literally feel/see my eyesight get sharper and sharper as my adrenaline levels rose. But it all went well and we fixed one cavity with anesthetic, and I let the dentist remove an old amalgam filling and put in a new white one without anesthetic, which is unheard of for me.

I have found something that has been helpful for me, though, apart from the sedative I can take if I need it: educational YouTube videos for dentists! I have found a channel where a calm dentist explains what he is doing, and there are no horrible headlines, just ordinary dental problems on a varying scale. I won’t show any pictures, since I know some of you probably don’t want to see that, but here is a link to the channel. It might be surprising that someone who is scared of going to the dentist sits and willingly watches movies about dentist work. But the thing is, I like to know what they are doing and why, and this way I learn.

Follow this journey on Friday Frida.

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Thinkstock photo by Davizro

Originally published: March 18, 2017
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