Letter to Dentist

In light of yesterday’s trauma, I have decided to send a letter to my dentist.  It’s in an envelope, addressed, stamped, sealed, and will go out in the mail tomorrow.  This is what I wrote:

Dr. ******,

First, I would like to thank you for the work you’re doing on my teeth. I know how important it is for me to get it done. However, that is not my main impetus for writing today. I am concerned over something that occurred during my appointment yesterday.

It’s obvious that my anxiety over seeing the dentist is extremely high, and my pain tolerance is extremely low. I cannot even begin to express how difficult it was for me to bring myself to keep my appointment yesterday. In spite of my fear bordering on terror, I kept the appointment. I wish that I could say that I was whole-heartedly glad that I did, but I cannot.

I was distressed that yesterday’s appointment took an hour and a half to complete when the previous appointment took only 45 minutes. It felt like my pain and anxiety was drawn out-I would have much preferred to have been able to get out of there a lot faster. However, I do understand that sometimes things may take a bit longer.

My chief complaint is not the time my appointment took, but rather a comment your assistant made to me. I realize that I was upset yesterday-to the point of panic, and that it cannot be easy to deal with a panicked patient. After you gave me an extra shot of pain medication I know I became quite distraught. I know your assistant was trying to calm me down. Her comment had quite the opposite effect. She said to me, “There are patients next door.” Had I been able, I would have gotten up and left immediately at that.

One does not calm a panicked person down by telling them just how much they are upsetting other people, even if that is indeed true. It is the kind of comment that incites more anxiety and panic rather than decreasing it. For me, this was doubly the case. Years ago (prior to my anxiety disorder diagnosis) I was abandoned by my ex in a hospital during a particularly vicious panic attack. Instead of treating me, the ER staff put me in a room and proceeded to yell at me for disturbing their other patients.

I find yesterday’s comment to be very invalidating. Yes, I realize there are other patients. I, too, am a patient. I can understand how your staff and perhaps yourself may feel that my great fear is unwarranted and excessive (and if I could just dismiss it, I most certainly would)-but that does not negate it, or make it anything less than what it is. I feel traumatized by yesterday’s appointment. I could not stop crying for hours last night. I am terrified of ever seeing another dentist again.

I know that I have a follow-up appointment with you in three weeks. I’ll be honest-I do not want to keep that appointment, even though I know it is important I do so. If my intent were to cancel the appointment and give in to my fear and NEVER see a dentist again, as is my desire, I would not bother writing you.

At this point, I do not know what is to be done to make this right. I do not know if it can be made right. It is with the hope that it can be made right, that I can work past my fears and this added trauma that I write to you now.

How do you think we can best handle this situation?



We’ll see how he responds.  I know how important it is to get proper dental care–and so I am hoping that I’ll be able to resolve these issues.  As it stands now, the idea of seeing the dentist again turns my stomach.  ~sigh~ 


1 Comment

  1. 2 June 2008 at 1:47 pm

    […] 1:47 pm (Life) Tags: complaint, dental, dentist, phobe, phobia, response I posted a copy of the letter I sent to my […]

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