Teresa Day explains how using her own personal experience, along with a few oral health tools and techniques, has helped to grow her practice and improve her patients’ oral health.
For Teresa Day, seven extractions at three years of age with the removal of all remaining teeth less than a year later was undoubtedly a tragedy. As if the situation wasn’t bad enough, there followed numerous fillings (all of which had to be replaced a few years later, whilst a student), poor orthodontic treatment, and then in later years, root canal treatments, crowns and implants. Not surprisingly, the impact of these dental debacles has been life-long.
However, to her credit, Teresa turned the experience of her childhood and teenage years into a positive one, choosing a career in dentistry: ‘I have undergone every type of dental procedure possible, so can really put myself in the shoes of my patients to understand how they are feeling.’
Getting into dentistry
Teresa was persuaded to enter the world of dentistry by her physics teacher, who recognised her scientific brain, artistic flair and rapport building skills. Although Teresa was still weighing up the merits of a career in medicine or chemical engineering, he convinced her to spend a day with a final year dental student at Guy’s Hospital and as they say, the rest is history.
Teresa graduated from Guy’s Dental School in 1980 and after 13 years practising in the NHS, moved into private dental care to be able to offer patients a more individual, tailored approach to dentistry, founding Appledore Dental Clinic in Bracknell in 1990 and opening a further practice in Milton Keynes in 1999. Her own personal experience has shaped the way in which she and her team deliver dental care to their patients on a daily basis.
Many patients come to Appledore Dental Clinic who have been upset, scared and not listened to in the past. Teresa feels that her team excel in reassuring these patients and gaining their trust. They enjoy building close relationships, giving a lot of themselves in the process. Teresa is proud that over the years, several of her most nervous patients have become close friends.
‘We all spend time talking to our patients, finding out what they are looking for, understanding their past experiences and putting them in control. I have a highly qualified, loyal team that works well together and has a strong patient focussed ethos. We look after each other and in turn this creates an atmosphere that patients are happy to return to over and over.’
Owning your oral health
Teresa and her team focus a great deal of their time on enabling patients to take ownership of their own dental health. Much of the team’s work involves whitening treatments; implants or orthodontics, which often requires improved oral health before work can commence.
Teresa cites the recent case of a 28-year-old patient seeking a solution to his severe orthodontic problems. He had a severe class two, division two malocclusion, with a deep bite and who hadn’t visited a dentist for over two years. He had poor oral hygiene with extensive plaque and tartar. Following an orthopantomogram (OPG) X-ray, it was possible to see some bone loss starting and the front teeth were a little loose.At Appledore Dental Clinic no cosmetic or orthodontic work is started unless the basics of good oral hygiene are in place and the supporting structures are in good health. So it was clear the patient needed to take ownership of their dental health. Teresa recommended two, one-hour hygiene appointments in quick succession and a programme of cleaning together with smoking cessation. Three weeks later, with the hygiene appointments complete, the patient returned ready to start their orthodontic treatment and with a heightened level of motivation to look after his oral health.
Most patients visit Teresa once a year and this is complemented with three hygiene appointments. Those with more serious periodontal problems see a hygienist four times a year. Teresa can recall numerous cases where improved oral health has staved off more serious surgery.
‘One case comes to mind recently where a patient had severe periodontal disease with deep pockets and deposits of plaque and tartar. I really thought that surgery was going to be a necessity along with some extractions. However, I recommended an intensive series of hygienist appointments to see what could be achieved and after three months the patient returned with a transformed mouth. The hygienist shared information with the patient on his condition, helped him refine his brushing and flossing techniques and, together with dietary advice, enabled the patient to take ownership of the situation. Whilst it is not possible to reverse the past and although surgical intervention cannot be ruled out in the future, if the problem can be managed with regular visits and increased patient motivation, then more serious intervention can be put off indefinitely.’
Teresa and her hygienist team are finding the Oral-B Test Drive electric toothbrush unit extremely useful to demonstrate brushing techniques, hone patients’ routines and prompt discussion into the benefits of power over manual brushing. Teresa is also happy to recommend Oral-B’s Pro-Expert toothpaste, the result of extensive scientific research and containing stabilised stannous fluoride. Alongside the mechanical action of the brush Teresa has seen the benefit with her own eyes. The practice gives away samples and Teresa has found it to be effective in achieving reductions in sensitivity and inflammation spots.
Alongside running the practice, Teresa is also an active member of Dental Mavericks; a charity established to bring pain free dentistry to children in a remote area in north east Morocco. The group of initially four clinicians and staff have been making an annual trip since 2010 with the project awarded runner up at the 2011 Private Dentistry Awards.
February 2015 saw the 25th anniversary of Appledore Dental Clinic and the practice organised a black tie grand charity ball at the Madjeski Stadium in Reading to raise valuable funds for this good cause, together with the Berkshire and Milton Keynes Community Foundations. Clearly, there is much to celebrate.
For more information please visit www.cosmeticdentistbracknell.co.uk.