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Expert answers

We know how daunting dental treatment can be. Our Dental Phobia certified experts are here to help ease your mind before treatment by answering your questions.

Do I have a phobia of cleaning my teeth?

Is it possible to have a phobia of cleaning your teeth? If so what can I do to overcome it?

I have a varied dental history including good and bad dentists as a child, 2-3 years of teenage orthodontic work by a lovely kind orthodontist.

As a young adult I experienced a number of ok to the down right incompetent (injected a tooth on one side and started drilling a tooth on the other side if my mouth!)

I have also had trouble with allergies to certain toothpastes ‘burning’ my lips and skin around my mouth.

I am now in my early 30s and for the last 3-4 years I have been fortunate enough to have a wonderful, kind and patient dentist. Unfortunately my previous experiences have made me very scared of even booking a checkup.

My mum encourages me and gets me there at least once a year but it is only with sleepless nights and many tears.

The trouble is that I am so ‘phobic’ about anything to do with the teeth & dentists I often skip cleaning my teeth at all so as to avoid anything to do with teeth.

Logically I know that this is only making matters worse but I cannot seem to shake this wish to avoid anything to do with my oral hygiene.

I have a small soft children’s toothbrush and have found a suitable toothpaste but am struggling to convince myself to clean my teeth once a day let alone twice.

Can you help?


Looking at your history , there are many dental things that you HAVE been able to do in the past .
The issues seem to be around , uncomfortable feelings when booking a check up and not being able to tolerate them .yet your previous and recent experience has been with a kind and nice dentist that you like , as was the orthodontist .
You have got through those feelings in the past , so you can do it again .
The not brushing your teeth needs to be unpacked ?
Once a day is ok as long as its thorough .
What do you think about when you are about to clean your teeth , what is it that’s preventing you ?
what are the negative thoughts that come into your mind , and how are they preventing you carrying out the teeth cleaning you are aware you need .
You have got into the avoidance habit .
Make a contract with yourself to do this every day for 30 days . Tick the days off and note your feelings before and after you do it .
You may then find out that this has become the new habit and has replaced the old avoidance behaviour .
Hope this helps .

Answer provided by: Dr Jennifer Pinder Retired
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