"I am Too Embarrassed to See My Dentist Because my Teeth are So Bad Now"

“I am embarrassed to see my dentist because of how badly my teeth had deteriorated. “

 

I have patients and members of the Dry Mouth Community tell me this all the time. Many feel embarrassed for the condition their teeth are in.

I ask you to please NOT think that way.

First, dentists are professionals who are accustomed to dealing with all kinds of oral health conditions on a daily basis. As bad you think your teeth are it is not the first time that the dentist is seeing it, it is just part of the day. Think about what you do for a living, whether you’re a teacher, plumber, hairdresser etc. You deal with different individuals and situations on a daily basis, and nothing you encounter is outrageous or out of the ordinary.  

Second, dentists are trained to understand the devastating effects of dry mouth. Because, there are so many causes of dry mouth, including a list of hundreds of medications and various medical conditions, sometimes it is not the most obvious answer to the dentist or the patient. And that is where some of the frustration and misunderstanding arises. 

However, there are things you can do to prepare to have a conversation with your dentist so he/she can have a better understanding where you are coming from. 

 

  1. Speak to your medical doctor about the medications you are taking, if any of them have the side effect of dry mouth. Ask if there are alternative medications you can take that do not cause dry mouth. Also ask about medical conditions you have and if they can cause dry mouth.  You can take that information to your dentist and tell them that you are suffering from dry mouth and are worried about increased risk of dental cavities and or infections.
  2. Try to think about whether you may have dry mouth and not realize it. I know it sounds silly to many, but I had a patient the other day who thought that her dry mouth was normal. She could not understand why she started getting all these cavities all of a sudden while keeping her oral hygiene the same. After reviewing her symptoms and medical history we realized that her dry mouth did start around the time she started taking her medications which are known to cause dry mouth.   

Some of the symptoms which may mean you have dry mouth:

Burning feeling in the mouth Difficulty chewing, swallowing Cracked and dry lips
Difficulty tasting
Dry and sore throat
Dry, fissured tongue
Dental cares and gum disease
Mouth infection (candidiasis)
Cracked corners of the mouth (angular cheilitis)
Oral lesions (3)
Bad breath
Altered taste
Intolerance for spicy, salty, sour foods or drinks
Inability to retain dentures (4)
Nutritional deficiencies such as dehydration
Dry eye
  1. When you see your dentist tell them about your concern, that you had learned about the devastating effects dry mouth can have on the teeth and that you are worried it might be affecting your oral health. The doctor should understand and tailor treatment and recall routine according to your needs. Tests to determine if you have dry mouth may be needed. If the doctor considers the need to refer you to another specialist then you might see an Oral Medicine doctor of an Oral surgeon.

 

Please remember dentists are professionals who’s trade and skills focus on dental care of patients. We do not judge patients on their dental condition and want to do everything that we can to help.

And if you do not feel comfortable with the first doctor you can always seek a second opinion. You can ask others for recommendations as well. 

But please do not let embarrassment stand in the way of getting treatment. 

Read more: 7 Best Dry Mouth Remedies

Dr. Anna Glinianska

 

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