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I have bad oral hygiene due to mental illness and I’m afraid a dentist will judge me



Junior member
Apr 19, 2019
South Carolina
I’m new here so I don’t even know if I’m doing this right but here goes. I’ve been struggling with mental illness for about ten years now (I’m 20) after the death of my mother. My depression resulted in a lack of good oral hygiene and it’s made me afraid to go to the dentist. I have only been once and it was when I was 15-16 to have a tooth removed. I never got the tooth replaced and I’m extremely self conscious about it. I don’t smile or laugh openly because I’m afraid someone will notice I have a missing tooth. I also have other dental issues that need to be fixed. My teeth aren’t the worst but I’m still afraid a dentist will shame me or judge me for not taking care of them. Does anyone else deal with poor oral hygiene due to mental illness? It would be nice to know I’m not alone in this.


Super Moderator
Staff member
Sep 18, 2017
Hi Hml0519 :welcome:,

thank you for sharing your story with us, you are absolutely right here. Really sorry to read about how much you have been struggling and at the same time glad you are ready to start to move forward with your dental health.
Dentists telling patients off for lack of care was very often in the past, however nowadays more and more dentists understand the struggles mental illness and / or challenging past bring with them. A nice dentist will understand how impossible it is to keep healthy habits and take care of yourself if even getting out of bed or taking a shower is hard to do on some or on most of the days. Wanting to get back on track with your dental health is a courageous thing to do and you deserve nothing than support along the way. By the way, depression is a risk factor for remaining oral health so that the most practices will have this in their medical history forms, the same way like they ask about smoking or some particular illnesses.

We have an article about fear of embarrassment in our common fear section which touches the fear of judgment as well, if you haven't read it yet.

All the best wishes, let us know your thoughts and again well done on making the first step by posting here.:grouphug:
Dr. Daniel

Dr. Daniel

Well-known member
Verified dentist
Nov 2, 2010
The Hague , Holland

Can you please share with us whether it’s the medication or the illness itself that causes your dental problems?
You can have a look at my video about Fear or embarrassment which is part of my project Treat Your Dental Fear which is made for dental fearful people.


Apr 30, 2019
I'm so sorry about the loss of your mother. I'm sure that was incredibly traumatic. I would suggest calling around to dentists, and explain exactly what you've said here. It took me calling 5 different offices before I talked to a receptionist who could handle listening to me through tears. And so far while challenging, it has been an overall positive experience.

You are worth investing into. You are worth it. Sometimes mental illness wins and we don't do what we need. Sometimes we can overcome it. But we have to try.