Going to the school dentist in 1951, standing in line with about thirty girls from my class, the nurse would pull each girls head back by pulling the back hair of the head. The dentist, smoking a cigarette and wearing a dirty blood stain apron, would make you open your mouth by pulling at our cheek’s and chin. Plus my parents did not encourage me to visit the dentist.
What made you decide to take the first step in contacting a dentist?
I saw an advert for Clinical Dental Technician Lee Butler at Creek Road Hayling Island for my husband. When my husband went to see Lee to discuss new dentures. I went with him and then I asked Lee if he could help me, as he is qualified to make and fit natural looking dentures and give advice. When I explained to Lee that I was very frightened, felt faint and sick he listened, understood, reassured me that he would not put anything in my mouth, and he didn’t. He then advised me to go and see Steve Larcombe, at St. Lawrence House, 2 Barnes Close, Winchester, SO23 9QX.
Describe your dental experience (from the initial contact, the first appointment, consultation and right through to the treatment including your feelings and anxieties throughout).
My first visit to Steve was very traumatic, but again Steve was very understanding and reassured me, let me sit on a chair [not the dentist chair ] and let me talk and he listened, then spoke to me very softly and asked me if he could look in my mouth and take x-rays? He helped me to the dental chair and just let me waffle on [how embarrassing was that], before he attempted to start checking my mouth. Steve explained what needed to be done and recommended a doctor that would be in attendance to sedate me. I agreed to this being done and felt quite relieved that I had started to allow Steve to help me.
The visit to have teeth extracted, I was in a terrible state, Steve again reassured me, introduced me to the Doctor who was going to administer the sedation. This Doctor was very understanding and reassured me that I would not feel a thing. This turned out to be true as I cannot remember any of the treatment, only at home when I realized I had a wonderful new denture. I agreed to have the next appointment to have further teeth out in six months, but after four months I altered the appointment and went back for the same procedure as before, and again when the time came I was very frightened, but as before Steve and the Doctor were very reassuring and I cannot remember any of that treatment either.
After six months I needed to go to see Lee for my permanent dentures, he again made first class dentures. I have never had a sore mouth or pain from these dentures. In January of this year I needed to visit Lee for advice, he told me to visit Steve and again the feeling of being sick and faint and not sleeping was awful, but I went, and Steve was very reassuring, listening to me, never rushing me and I sat in the dental chair straight away. The dental nurse held my hand all of the time and spoke to me throughout. Steve was able to look at my tooth and take an x-ray. He gave advice and said that he could now administer the sedation. I was not sure about this. Then he sat me down and explained again, and I agreed.
I then went home and back to Lee for an impression of my tooth so that it could be added to my top denture ready for when I had the tooth extracted in a couple of days. I went back to Steve feeling exactly the same as before, but again I never felt a thing, I had the tooth extracted and my top denture with the new tooth fitted to it. My denture is perfect and I have had no pain or discomfort in my mouth.
How did you manage to overcome your dental phobia?
My phobia is exactly as before, except, I will go straight away to Lee and Steve because I believe and trust them.
Any other comments or words of advice to people out there who are suffering from dental phobia and are avoiding the dentist?
Speak to a well qualified Clinical Dental Technician, Dentist and Dental Nurse. Do not necessarily choose the cheapest dentures. Choose one that you can afford, it works out cheaper in the long run. Tell the truth about how you feel, no matter how embarrassed you feel, by doing this the dental team will understand and help you. When you have had your treatment follow instructions from the Dentist and your Dental Technician, eat your meals no matter how long it takes you. This will keep your wellbeing in the best possible order, and in a few days you will feel better. Keep your denture in, this will make you feel confident, younger, and able to walk out without feeling your smile will let you down.
More real patient stories
Patient of Dr Yasmin George (The Courtyard Clinic)
"I don’t even get anxious any more. I can’t say I have overcome my phobia – I get round it, with sedation"
Patient of Dr Leila Johnson (Causeway Dental Practice)
"I went to the dentist at the age of about 9yrs to have a tooth removed and ended up being pinned down by my mother, the nurse and the dentist had my head trapped between his legs to keep me still. At that age all I could hear was the cracking of the tooth not actually any pain. This experience has made me nervous of the dentist"
Patient of Dr David Rudin (The Arnold Dental Centre)
"My advice is not to avoid the dentist no matter how fearful you are. I felt stupid initially explaining how fearful I was of the dentist, but it was the best thing I have done! I would strongly advise speaking to your dentist and sharing your fears so they can help you through the process"
Patient of Dr Munther Sulieman (Merton Dental Centre)
"I managed to overcome my fear due to the fact that I know that Dr Sulieman has a good understanding of the root cause of my fear of visiting the dentist and actively takes steps to put my mind at rest and tailor my dental treatment to my need’s"
Patient of Dr Richard Colebourne (Evesham Dental Health Team)
"I think it is a case of mind over matter. I simply just didn’t see myself wearing false teeth. I had a brace as a girl, one of the ones that fitted in the roof of my mouth, and I didn’t get on with it. So I decided that I had to do something if I wanted to keep my teeth. I can now smile and feel proud that they’re mine. I am so chuffed. I have also always tried not to pass my fear on to my daughter"
Patient of Dr Kal Patel (Fareham Road Dental Surgery)
"I would be lying if I said I am 100% over my phobia, but I am at point where I can sit in the waiting room and look around and see I’m not most nervous person in the room anymore. I am at the point where I almost look forward to going as I know it is for my benefit and instead of being hurt for nothing, I am going in there to improve myself and show off how well I’ve done and the hard work Kal has put in is paying off"
Patient of Dr Claire Wilkinson (The Courtyard Clinic)
"I am still overcoming it now however, with the help of a great team of people, understanding, and working out what’s good for you, my salvation was music I let my mind run away with the music instead of letting the mind chatter take over, I’m not saying it goes completely however with each visit the mind chatter gets less and less"
Patient of Dr Claire Wilkinson (The Courtyard Clinic)
“With encouragement from Claire and the team, the tablets that calm me down enough to get in the chair. I listen to music so I cant hear what they say and close my eyes. Mad but it gets me through it!!!”