Like one in four people in the UK, 66-year-old David Slack from Huddersfield suffers from odontophobia; a fear of the dentists.
However, David’s fear is much worse than that of the average person. For 24 years, his severe dental fear – caused by a number of unfortunate experiences when he was younger – has resulted in him not attending the dentist for regular check ups, which has led to significantly deteriorated oral health.
David had all but given up hope on finding a solution to his oral health woes before hearing about a new general anaesthetic private service – believed to be one of the first in the UK – offered by Queensway Dental Clinic and the University Hospital of Hartlepool, which is part of North Tees & Hartlepool NHS Trust.
David is the first person to undergo the service at Queensway, which is based in Billingham in the North East.
David said: 'Due to my severe fear of dentists and needles, I haven’t been to a dental clinic in over two decades and my teeth needed urgent attention. They looked so bad and were causing bad breath, it got to the stage where I was ashamed to even smile. I’d spoken to a large number of dentists from around the country but didn’t feel assured by them; I was even prepared to travel overseas to get the treatment. Then, thankfully, a friend directed me to the new general anaesthetic service launched by Queensway Dental Clinic. Though the clinic isn’t close to where I live, I knew I had to give it a try and made an appointment to see Dr Paul Averley.
'From my first appointment with Dr Averley, I knew I’d made the right decision. I was relieved to discover they listened to my wishes and reassured me that Queensway could do the treatment under general anaesthetic at the hospital as a private day patient.
'During the consultation, he just listened to my concerns and explained how the general anaesthetic service would work, he made me feel so relaxed. From there I encountered no problems throughout the whole process during which time I got two teeth removed and a thorough de-scaling. It was pain free and I always felt assured.
'I’d undoubtedly recommend it to anyone who has a dental fear as severe as mine and has tried every other possible solution. I now have a new smile and couldn’t be happier.'
Dr Paul Averley, of Queensway Dental Clinic, said: 'For the majority of adult patients who are anxious or nervous about a dental procedure, we have a full range of facilities on site, together with thoroughly qualified members of staff who are able to asses a patients’ needs and treat them the most appropriately. However, for patients such as David, whose fear is so severe they haven’t been to the dentists in a long time and it results in a significant deterioration of the teeth, we introduced the general anaesthetic service.
'David was the first patient to take advantage of the new private general anaesthetic service and it couldn’t have gone any better. We were able to appease his fears by providing him with thorough information and talking him through the process in detail. There is almost no provision in place across the country, it would seem, for adults suffering from such dental fears, and we’re delighted that by working with the University Hospital of Hartlepool we can now help these adults.'
For more information on general anaesthetic for dental treatment, please visit www.queensway.co.uk.