How to face dental embarrassment

Have you avoided the dentist so long you're now too embarrassed to go at all?

You’re not alone. Nearly 25% of South Dakotans say they skipped going to the dentist because of fear, and 26% said they had experienced embarrassment because of the condition of their mouth and teeth.

But avoiding checkups, cleanings, and regular care because you’re too ashamed to go to the dentist could leave you worse off, no matter your mouth’s condition.

Let’s break down those reasons for embarrassment:

Fear: My teeth will be the worst the dentist has ever seen.

Reality: A dentist generally sees 8-12 patients every day, which adds up to thousands of patient visits every year.  Many of those patients come in because of problems like decay, chipped teeth, and gum disease. Your teeth are like many others the dentist sees, and the dentist’s job is to keep teeth healthy and fix any issues they might find.

Fear: I don't want the dentist to lecture me.

Reality: Most dentists are pretty understanding. Whether it’s financial constraints or not having enough time, dentists understand why people avoid appointments. They’re happy to help and want to keep you coming back so your smile stays healthy!

Fear: My dentist will judge my lifestyle.

Reality: Dentists understand that everyone is different and no one is perfect. Whether you’re a smoker, a night grinder, or don’t brush often, the more they know about your habits, the better they can help you.

If you’re still too embarrassed to go to the dentist, try these 3 tips:

  1. Communicate your concerns. Explain to your hygienist or dentist why you’re embarrassed before your visit. Sharing your concerns with the dental staff will help them adapt their treatment to your needs and put you at ease while you’re in the chair.

  2. Think of the benefits. Addressing issues with your teeth is the only way they’re going to get better, and the rewards go deeper than just your smile. Your mouth is an important part of your overall health; taking care of your teeth is the foundation to a healthy body.

  3. Try relaxation techniques. Even after you’ve mustered your courage, walking through the dental office door can be stressful. Approaches like deep breathing or even acupuncture can help keep you calm for your appointment.