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Natalie Holton

Patient of Dr Claire Wilkinson
The Courtyard Clinic, 30 London Street, Chertsey, Surrey KT16 8AA
Tel: 01932 582 949
What was the reason for your dental phobia?
There are a number of reasons why I developed a phobia of dentist’s I had an unpleasant experience with a tooth extraction in the chair. Something which was so simple yet turned into a nightmare, the fear grew inside me by the minute, my trust evaporated and I was in a state of shock. I now have to build trust in my dentist which takes time, I also like to feel in control (call me a control freak) and when seated in a chair I feel totally out of control with what’s happening.
What made you decide to take the first step in contacting a dentist?
My phobia has lost me a few teeth, I wanted to keep the teeth I have healthy therefore I had to put my tooth health in front of my phobia. I don’t want to be Phobic anymore and want to overcome this. If I learnt this Phobia I can get over it and that’s what I keep telling myself.
What made you choose the dentist / clinic that you did?
I was recommended The Courtyard clinic by a phobic friend, she told me how wonderful they are and how they make you feel at ease. I was happy to give anything a try just to see if it would work.
Describe your dental experience (from the initial contact, the first appointment, consultation and right through to the treatment including your feelings and anxieties throughout).
I have to say from my very first call I was made to feel at ease, I was booked in for a routine check up and to look at what work was needed. On arrival to the surgery I was greeted at the door by the Practice Manager Alison, I was offered a coffee and asked to complete some forms etc. I was sat in the waiting room every Phobic’s dread, watching the clock, heart beating frantically etc however, Alison didn’t leave my side we had a good long chat. I was then greeted by my dentist Claire who sat down and tried to understand my phobias and to understand where she could make things easier and more comfortable for me. She really listened and understood didn’t judge and helped reassure me. She then took be down to the treatment room and I sat back in the chair, she told me if I needed to stop at anytime then I should raise my hand. As she was checking my teeth she was telling me what he was doing and what I was to expect. I was nervous even with her just checking, my breathing all over the place, I felt sweaty and uncomfortable, my heart racing, head racing with pictures of the past experiences. As she was telling me what he was doing it settled me so much, to feel heard and the reassurance was exactly what I needed. I was told I needed a couple of fillings, my head was racing with my past experience resurfacing, she could tell I was distressed and instantly reassured me. Claire welcomed me on the day I returned for treatment, she asked how I was feeling I told her I was nervous as this time as there was going to be a treatment of 2 replacement fillings. I asked if I could wear my iPod whilst she was doing the work. I thought the music would help to keep my mind busy, and drown out the noise etc she agreed it would be a great idea. We also had a chat to discuss what was going to happen, and we agreed if it got too much I would put my hand up and she would stop for a while, I placed my IPod on and laid back and prepared myself for what was to happen next, my heart was racing, though my thoughts were song words playing in my ears. We attempted the wand for numbing the gums she applied gel to the gums and applied the wand. It did hurt I can’t lie and the anaesthetic makes my heart race however, it didn’t kill me and that was the worst part, I listened to my tunes and felt at ease. Claire was gentle patient and had everything under control I did shake a little as it was my first experience, Claire gave me a sugary drink and we carried on. Then 90 minutes had gone by and we were finished, I was proud of myself for going though it and didn’t have to stop much in between. It was the first stepping stone to overcoming the very thing that has spooked me for years. I couldn’t thank her enough. Since then Claire has done several fillings and cleaned my teeth, the experience betters with each visit, I still have the odd wobble appointments however, I feel more confidence these days so much so I turn up early for my appointments and can’t wait to see the team. I am going to beat this and one day walk in normally with no worries and I know that everyone at The Courtyard clinic will help me get there. I am happy beyond words, I have changed my routine with cleaning, and the music definitely works for me. Your experience can be pleasant and worry free if you have the desire to overcome any obstacles from your phobia.
How did you manage to overcome your dental phobia?
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.
How do you currently feel about your dental phobia?
I am comfortable with it now, I have good days and off days and I don’t beat myself up about it, every visit makes my phobia shrink that bit more. I feel a lot more confident with regular checkups and hygienist appointments thanks to a great team or people.
Any other comments or words of advice to people out there who are suffering from dental phobia and are avoiding the dentist?
You only live once, you only get one set of teeth, you learnt your phobia and you can unlearn it and overcome it. With the right people, the understanding, and a lot of patience anything is possible. Try some music it will drown out the mind chatter, try a tapping technique, if you agree with your dentist a signal for them to stop when you need that couple of minutes, this helps you to feel more in control and helps you to feel more relaxed again. Meditation is good to also centre yourself, by concentrating on your breath it takes your mind away from the chatter and takes you to a relaxed space instead of a panicked space. Try everything until you find a way which works for you. I guarantee you will find ways new ways to better and finally beat this. “You can do this” "One step at a time" “Look after those pearly whites and they will look after you”

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