Roy’s case study. My life changer

Former lecturer seeks help after the loss of 16 teeth in a decade

When former university mental health lecturer Roy Philpott recognised involuntary changes in his social behaviour, he knew he needed help – and quickly.

“Below the radar,” he says, “things were happening to my teeth in my early-60s and by the time I was 70, problems were visible and very acute.”

But the issues were not just affecting his oral health. Studies of the mysterious collaborations between our bodies and minds have established medical links between failing teeth and mental wellbeing.

In Roy’s case, invasive gum disease had challenged his enthusiastic approach to retirement and not least his passion in working for the Guide Dogs charity.

A public speaker for the charity, he became aware of a ”terrible self-consciousness” doing fundraising events.

Symptoms masked

“My normally clear speaking voice began to change and people were asking me to repeat what I’d said. On reflection, I was probably mumbling. Another strange thing for me was that I’d noticed I no longer smiled,” he says.

During a period of three years, she suffered numerous gum infections as the insidious disease saw him lose more and more teeth. “I’m a Black Country lad and typically Black Country folk cope and get on with things and that’s just what I did,” he adds.

When antibiotics failed to work he turned to alternative therapies and for a couple of years, herbal prescriptions appeared to help.

However, in 2010, Roy recalls, what he describes as a “turning point” in a downward spiral that ultimately affected his ability to eat properly, his digestive system and social engagement. On holiday in Scotland, Roy developed Bell’s palsy, a partial paralysis of the face.“Treatment involved the prescription of steroids,” he explains.

“Suddenly, all the problems with my teeth appeared to disappear, but of course, what really was happening, symptoms were being masked by the medication and the infection was still in the roots of my teeth. I thought it had gone, but it hadn’t.”

In less than a decade, Roy had lost more than 16 teeth and his diet had changed dramatically. Embarrassing gaps meant he was able to chew on only one side and his healthy vegetarian diet, including his favourite apples, celery and grapes, was limited to soft food choices.

“My gums hurt, food impacted between my remaining teeth resulting in sideward pressure and more loosening, and I had to make conscious decisions not to stay in.

“There was no Pizza Hut for me and even a simple piece of toast I had to cut into small pieces. I was no longer really chewing food, just swallowing it and was experiencing stomach problems,

“ I’d be chewing and a tooth would just fall out . . . I was not sleeping, had a partial denture I couldn’t get on with and all I could think of was ‘what on earth am I going to do?’. I was desperate,” he says.


Inspired by testimonials published in his local newspaper, he sought help with Steven Burchell DipCDT RCS(Eng), principal of both North Street Dental and the Denture Clinic.

“What an eye-opener! He spent an hour with me on my first consultation,” says Roy.

Roy’s treatment involved the placing of four upper and four lower implants to fix over-dentures.

Totally secure, hugely functional and natural looking – we were able to help him return to the spontaneous lifestyle he enjoyed before his troubles set in.”

Life with Guide Dogs

­Guide Dogs puppy walkers Roy and wife, Sue, are committed to changing lives in their work for the charity. For more than seven years they have been the “the foster parents” of puppies which later became fully trained guide dogs.

Currently, the couple from Dudley, have a beautiful labradoodle – Vonnie – the “diva of the house,” says Sue.

Vonnie, who suffered retina damage in an accident, had her guide dog career cut short but was adopted by the Philpotts. Roy and Sue were family to Dudley, the celebrity Labrador puppy who was sponsored by the mayor’s charity. The practice has also supported Guide Dogs.

Case Study - Roy after his treatment

Roy after his treatment at North Street Dental

Roy talks about his treatment at North Street Dental

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