Dear Miriam,

A few weeks ago, I had a nasty fall and as a result some of my front teeth were chipped. I have been advised to go to the dentist and have them examined in case there may be nerve damage. The reality is I have had a fear of the dentist’s chair all of my life. I only visit out of pure necessity and the visits have been few and far between.

As a child I had an unpleasant experience when getting a tooth out and never wanted to go back. To be honest, I am way overdue a dental check-up even if I hadn’t had the fall. I am in my 50s and want to avoid the problems that can come with old age. It is just so difficult to make that phone call.

I have always practised good dental hygiene at home, but I know I need to have this check-up and also have a proper assessment done with regard to my overall dental health.

How do I get beyond this fear?


Dear Jane,

Thank you for getting in touch and I hope you are making a good recovery from your recent fall. Dental anxiety is quite common and there are ways to overcome it.

I would suggest you make an appointment for a general assessment initially, explaining your fears to the dentist. He/she may want to X-ray your teeth and this is a painless procedure. It might also help to simply have them cleaned first. There are no injections involved here and you will probably feel great afterwards. It may give you the courage to make a start on the other work that needs to be carried out.

Dental hygiene is extremely important and part of that process includes regular trips to the dentist.

Focusing on the breath can help relieve the anxiety. Agree a signal with your dentist if you need a break at any stage. You can also enquire about having certain treatments carried out under sedation.

Another option may be engaging with a CBT (cognitive behaviour) therapist to help change those thoughts and see dental check-ups from a more positive state of mind.

Finally, I would also suggest asking a friend or family member to accompany you initially for your appointment. This may help you to feel less alone and provide comfort as you face whatever treatments the dentist feels are necessary to provide adequate dental care in the future. I hope this helps and I wish you the very best.

Letter responses: (March 23): ‘her new look is mortifying’

Dear Miriam,

I was amused and surprised reading the letter from the daughter regarding her mum’s behaviour at 60. When I turned 70 a year ago, I decided to get a tattoo. My children were surprised and my son advised me to be tasteful in my choice.

Despite my fear of needles, I got my butterfly tattooed on my wrist. It was a great idea and I did it for me. We are never too old to change our style and appearance. We have only one life and we should embrace it and our older years.

Regular reader

Dear Miriam,

Regarding the letter about the mother reinventing herself, I am 74 and still wear denim; I started when I was 14. My daughter got me a new denim skirt and shirts for Christmas and my birthday. My middle son got me my ticket for Bruce Springsteen. I have been going to concerts since I was 10, and saw The Beatles when I was 13. I got a tattoo some years ago and they all loved it. Let her enjoy herself; life is too short .


P.S. What is age appropriate dress? At 74, should I be wearing black?

Read more

Ask Miriam: ‘my Mam turned 60 and her new look is mortifying’

Ask Miriam: ‘my social media addiction is hurting my marriage’