Emma Evans: A Patient’s View of Oral and Mental Wellbeing

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Emma Evans explains why her visit to Dr Alif Moosajee was essential for her oral and mental wellbeing

According to a recent report, drawn together from a number of independent sources by Align Technology, the dental profession has risen to the challenge of treating patients throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with increased safety measures and a rise in virtual consultations.

The report also found that closing dental practices again during a potential second wave this autumn could be detrimental to patient health. In a survey of dentists, therapist, hygienists and nurses working for the {my}dentist group, 96% stated that lockdown has had an adverse impact on the nation’s oral health and that greater access to affordable dental care is needed.

88% of the dental health expert respondees said that the UK’s dental health could decline due to a lack of routine appointments, which could lead to preventative dental issues getting worse. Dental Review hears from patient Emma Evans and learns why her recent appointment with Dr Alif Moosajee was so important for her oral – and mental – wellbeing.

I have always been petrified of dentists. And when that sort of fear gets hold of you, it becomes hard to rein anything in as your thoughts become totally irrational. I guess that I am quite a nervous person, and my nervous state can be exacerbated by what is going on around me.

For example, this year in February my husband experienced two heart attacks. That was really unexpected, especially as he is quite young. As a result, I started having bad nightmares that my teeth were going to fall out. The thing is I actually needed root canal and other dental work, so I plucked-up my courage and decided to see my local NHS dentist.

I left his practice with zero confidence – I was in a right state. I was so worried that I actually reached the point where I stopped eating because I was so scared my teeth would fall out. I was desperate, but I couldn’t go back to that NHS surgery. I started googling private dentists in my area and literally read every single review to find the dentist who would be able to deal with my fear, and with whom I could be comfortable.

So, I finally booked an appointment with Leicester-based Dr Alif Moosajee at Oakdale Dental, who is also known as the ‘Smiling Dentist’. He didn’t have a single bad review and that was a good start for me. That didn’t stop my tears while I was waiting in reception area. I was so scared I was shaking and crying, I couldn’t stop myself.

Alif was superb. He constantly reassured me and did not make me feel uncomfortable, although when he had a look at my teeth all I was doing was gagging and retching. Alif presented me with all the different options and reassured me that my teeth were not going to fall out. That was early March 2020.

I agreed to the treatment plan and within a week I was fitted with a temporary bridge at the front. I also had a tooth that needed to come out and an appointment was planned for April.

Sadly, lockdown was imposed and we got all stuck. It is not a nice situation to be in, but for an anxious person like me, it was a total disaster. I had been given 12 weeks for my temporary bridge, but lockdown meant that the June appointment for permanent bridge would probably take place in September.

Then my bad tooth at the back got infected and started giving me serious pain. Under normal circumstances, I would already be counting the days and weeks to my appointment with increased anxiety. Now the lockdown totally tipped me over the edge. I was utterly convinced I was going to lose my teeth – including the ones at the front, because they were temporary.

Alif was always at the end of the phone within minutes every time I rang to say I was losing my nerves, and he provided me with two prescriptions for antibiotics. There’s no way I would have considered going to an emergency hub. Alif was the only one who instilled me with the confidence I needed, because I knew he cared. He made me feel comfortable and had the personal touch. I knew he would be there for me the minute the dental practice reopened.

As my anxiety peaked, I felt I had to change my treatment plan and opted for a crown on my back tooth because it would last longer. As soon as the lockdown eased off, I made an emergency appointment to see Alif. Whatever the outcome, I was confident he would find the right solution for me.

Alif and his team also understood that anxiety made my temperature rise, which is a COVID symptom, and that was okay with them. I have never been anywhere else that was so calming and reassuring, knowing I was in safe hands. Please understand, I am certainly not complaining about NHS dentists. It is just that they can only focus on the clinical part of their treatment because of time constraints, and that constantly put me on edge.

I have yet to complete my treatment but I am now looking forward to it because the end goal is in sight and I appreciate the care I receive there. When you find the right dentist, it is a million times easier to attend. I feel totally confident in Alif’s ability and I know the final outcome will be the best for me.