Dental surgery teams up with charity to tackle patient phobias

Dental anxiety (Surgery at Sainsburys Rustington works with charity to help patients who suffer with anxiety). Christina youngman (hygienist), Debra Bainbridge (practice manager) and  Jackie gallon. Pic Steve Robards SR1721771 SUS-170909-043913001
Dental anxiety (Surgery at Sainsburys Rustington works with charity to help patients who suffer with anxiety). Christina youngman (hygienist), Debra Bainbridge (practice manager) and Jackie gallon. Pic Steve Robards SR1721771 SUS-170909-043913001

A dental surgery in Rustington is looking to numb the emotional pain of going to the dentist by working with a leading anxiety charity.

Centre for Dentistry, in Sainsbury’s in Rustington, have teamed up with Anxiety UK to increase awareness of dental phobia and help their patients get over their fears.

One such patient is Jackie Gallon. The 57-year-old dog groomer from Rustington has had a fear of going to the dentist since a ‘horror story’ at the age of seven.

She woke up in the middle of the night with toothache, and was whisked away to the dentist where the offending tooth was yanked out.

Jackie said the memory of the pain has made her phobia grow, leading to her going to the dentist only once every few years when absolutely necessary and sparking panic attacks when she steps through the door.

She said: “It is that pain when they touch a nerve... I don’t think there is any other pain like it. I have been through childbirth but that pain sticks in my head.”

With the encouragement of her partner Jeremy Dobson, Jackie researched phobia-friendly dentists online and found the Centre for Dentistry.

After a initial appointment where she talked through her fears and had some minor treatment, Jackie has made her first steps towards conquering her phobia.

She said: “They explain things to you here so you don’t feel stupid. I think the longer you leave it, the more silly you feel.”

Practice manager Debra Bainbridge said common reactions from fearful patients included crying and not being able to talk. While anaesthetising a patient was one option, they preffered a holistic approach: “Every person matters, so when they come in we want to make them feel comfortable.”

Hygenist Christina Youngman said: “Times have changed; we are trained now to deal with anxious patients and listen to them. It isn’t about dentists being in charge anymore, it is about working with the patient to get the best outcome.”

To find out more about Anxiety UK’s work, visit anxietyuk.org.uk.