Hayley’s case study. Dental phobia

No longer fearful, Hayley is feeling good about herself

With a warm smile, infectious laughter and the chatty charm that every pub bar worker should share as each pint is pulled, Hayley admits she’s enjoying life at a new level.

The 29-year-old confesses to “simple pleasures” like tucking into sandwiches and “not being scared to eat things.”

An enthusiastic cook with a taste for adventurous recipes, she adds: “I’m now enjoying the meals I cook and not giving most of my portion to my partner.”

For Hayley, the whole food thing was a pleasure-pain experience. The adventure of discovering new dishes and exotic tastes from far-flung places was forever spoilt by the apprehension of eating them.

Hayley had never neglected caring for her teeth, but failing veneers in the front of her upper crown had eroded her confidence.

Terrified of the dentist

And to make matters worse, she was “utterly terrified” of the dentist. She cannot recall why but suspects her fear was planted with a bad dental experience when she was aged about five.

“I know I’ve suppressed it all this time . . . I think it was something to do with the needle,” says the pub management team worker.

Hayley is just one of the estimated estimating 12 per cent of the UK population who have experienced an exaggerated fear of going to the dentist.

After spiders and heights, it‘s the third most common thing that scares the life out of us.

Remarkably, Hayley braved her fears all of her life and forced herself to get dental treatment. But the dentistry of some 20 years was always compromised by her anxieties.

“My teeth were a mess. One of my front teeth was longer than the other, they were different colours, crooked, chipped and the glue on the veneers had stained one of the teeth. I was scared to tackle anything that demanded biting or proper chewing because I had no faith in the veneers holding on.

“I love cooking and used to do Vietnamese dishes because many were like soups and curries. Noodles and rice are easy to chew. I’d eat other soft food junk too, like beef burgers,” she says.

Desperate for things to change, Hayley wanted a new look and teeth that did not embarrass her in public. It was a fall that broke off a veneer which brought things to a head.

“I’d been coming to North Street for years – I was just too terrified to try anywhere new and when the place was taken over from the previous dentist, Mr McEvoy, I decided to stay on. It was the best decision ever.


“I was always conscious of my teeth. I was really shy, tried to talk without showing my teeth, but look at me now,” she declares.

But the journey to recover her lost smile was a brave one.

Practice director Jacqui Burchell takes up the story. “When Hayley first came into the waiting room she sat in the corner, hugging her knees and rocking. She was dental phobic.

We took her upstairs and sat with her, explaining that we only ever wanted to help her and that together we could address this life-long fear.

“Hayley was great. She trusted us with her care and we held her hand in the dentist’s chair as the work got underway.

“She is proof that no matter how bad the fear, there is hope and in Hayley’s case a cure.”

Hayley had five porcelain veneers fitted, along with a crown, root filling and other work.

“I just clicked with everyone,” she says, “they were so patient and showed lots of compassion.

“Everyone here was just lovely with me; Ann the dental nurse, Jacqui, Lydia the other dental nurse and Chloe on reception. Everyone brought something different and the whole dental team really helped me. I can now laugh about the surgery. Wow!”

Case Study - Hayley after her treatment

Hayley after her treatment at North Street Dental

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