Ask The Dentist: Don't be ashamed to be embarrassed about your teeth

Feeling embarrassed about the state of your teeth? Putting off that all important dental check-up is only going to make things worse. Lucy Stock explains why dentists are here to help you have a smile to be proud of – and that they've seen it all before

Embarrassment can prevent people from seeking dental treatment for years
Lucy Stock

TOO ashamed to go to the dentist? If you're dying of embarrassment at the condition of your mouth you're not alone – our patients express this emotion almost on a daily basis.

Feelings range from gentle shyness, to shame at neglecting their mouth, through to deep-rooted embarrassment.

Embarrassment can prevent people from seeking treatment for years. This allows the negative feelings to build up to exaggerated highs and understandably something has got to give in this pressure cooker environment.

It normally manifests in an issue that can't be ignored, like a tooth falling out in your dinner or intense debilitating pain.

People often say that they think it's odd that someone wants to be a dentist but one of the best parts of the job is bringing someone along their journey from hating their mouth to a place where they're proud of their smile.

More importantly, it's the change you see in someone's demeanour that's so professionally satisfying; when a patient transforms from feeling embarrassed to having a deep sense of happiness. It's this and moving from an unhealthy state to fresh mouth health and improved overall body health that the dental team really get a buzz from.

The idea of being told off or lectured by a cranky dentist is an outdated concept. As a dentist we are thinking about what's the best way to treat the particular issue in the most time efficient, easiest way giving the longest lasting results.

Embarrassing negative thoughts tend to go round and round in our head. Breaking the cycle of poor thoughts is key to overcoming embarrassment. So when a negative thought comes into your consciousness try thinking of something else, like your last holiday, your dreams, your favourite thing to do –and you can feel good again.

A significant step to overcoming your embarrassment can be to verbalise your thoughts aloud; let your dentist know what you are embarrassed about. This can ease the tension a lot. Something as seemingly simple as just talking about the embarrassment is often a turning point with the practicalities of treatment taking over thereafter.

It's powerful to realise that you can handle a bit of embarrassment – you will not die! Keep the end goals in mind, like a healthy mouth or great smile to motivate you through the treatment.

Remember humans tend to overestimate just how negatively people will view us, we get trapped inside of our own head and lose perspective. As Richelle Goodrich said, "Relax: the world's not watching that closely. It's too busy contemplating itself in the mirror."

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