Feeling shame about dental health and the appearance of your smile is extremely common. Facebook, Instagram, movies, and TV are flooded with beautiful, white, straight smiles. People who are embarrassed about their smiles are fairly easy to spot. They are the people that hide their mouth with their hand when they talk, that never post pictures with an open-mouthed smile, that pick the perfect angle to hide the parts of their mouth that they are most embarrassed about. Some people with this form of anxiety have a constant fear of being judged by the condition of their smile. It is a source of shame that has likely followed them for years.

Dental anxiety often prevents people from visiting the dentist. Consequently, their dental health is neglected for long periods of time. After so much time has passed, people often feel embarrassed or ashamed to visit the dentist. The embarrassment might be from a fear of dentist judgment, fear of the cost of services, or fear of the pain from dental work. Unfortunately, dental anxiety often presents as a vicious cycle that is difficult to break free from.

People suffering from anxiety or embarrassment can take comfort in knowing that most dentists are kind and compassionate people that want you to feel confident and happy with your smile and health. Dentists can work with you to find a solution that meets your needs. Below are some tips that can help you manage your first appointment.

1. Be honest about your anxiety and be specific about what is causing it. Tell the dentist your fears before he/she even looks inside your mouth. It will help ease your fears, and it will help guide the dentist in your treatment.
2. Ask your dentist if there is any medicine that you can take before the appointment to help with anxiety.
3. Prepare a list of concerns or things you want addressed. If you start to feel anxious while you are in the chair, you can refer to your list so that all of your concerns are addressed.
4. Stop doing research in the days leading up to your appointment. While it is good to come prepared, looking at too many “before” images can feed into your fears.
5.Try to focus on taking small, manageable steps. You can have the beautiful, healthy smile that you want. The first step is making the appointment, and the dental team will help you formulate the rest of the plan to get the results you want.

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