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It’s understandable that a person with a neglected mouth has to change what they eat from harder to softer options. It’s understandable that a person who may not like the appearance of their teeth to such a degree that they stop smiling so widely. It’s understandable that a person with bad breath may take a step back when talking with a friend. However, what’s less well known is that people can be so embarrassed about the condition of their teeth that they become virtual recluses in their own homes. Those that are effectively “dentally housebound” are more common than you would imagine. Since everything is so readily available nowadays online, this lifestyle can be easily facilitated.
We hear from people with, for example many missing, discoloured or malpositioned teeth, who feel that they are disfigured to such an extent that they avoid social situations which includes going to the shops, forming relationships and getting jobs. In many cases people can’t wear dentures or have false teeth that fall down when they eat. This can be a nightmare when going out to a restaurant and leads people to avoid eating out altogether. This has a knock on effect to friendships as the person can feel embarrassed to give the real reason they don’t want to meet up and relationships can trickle out. It’s not uncommon for spouses who have been together for years to have never discussed the issue of teeth and the emotions that the affected person associates with their mouth. Sexual relationships can also suffer when a person feels unconfident with their mouth and this can bring added strains.
It’s important that the dentally housebound realise that they are not alone and not the first person that has gone through this situation. Often the turning point can be lifting the phone or sending an email to a member of the dental team. It can be reassuring to know that even if a person feels embarrassed at the condition of their mouth, this is normal everyday stuff for the dental team. The good thing about the mouth is that the vast majority of problems can be fixed, teeth can be made to look better, feel more comfortable and there are many options to give firm teeth that you are able to eat better with.