If you are planning on puckering up under the mistletoe this festive season, you’ll need a dazzling smile and a sparkling set of gnashers! Before you start to fret, don’t panic – it’s not too late! Dental Health Spa is the alternative dental clinic in Brighton that specialises in providing faultless oral hygiene. From tooth whitening to full mouth cleansing they have everything that you need to ensure that you are 100% kissable. Intrigued by what the difference is between a standard dental practise and this new concept, Absolute caught up with dental revolutionary and spa owner Christina Chatfield….
How would you describe The Dental Health Spa in five words?
Independent, Quirky, Professional, Innovative and Brighton!
Endorsed by Dr Nigel Carter OBE, the Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Brightonians have been tipped that they ‘are fortunate to have Christina Chatfield’s knowledge and expertise in the community’. What made you move and start your practice in Brighton?
My links with Brighton go back to my Grandmother and Father, who were both born and bought up here. I have happy childhood memories of Brighton, and was inspired by the successful women who started small and independent in Brighton (Barbara Hulanicki with Biba, and Anita Roddick with Bodyshop for instance). Who wouldn’t want to live and work here? I particularly love the seafront, Summer and Winter. I run most mornings, and just being near the sea sets me up for the day.
You won’ Hygienist of the Year’ in 2012. What is your personal mission as a key figure in the dental industry?
Actually within the industry, I think it’s important to use the respect that I have from my colleagues to work and encourage dental professionals to think outside the box and raise and look to find ways to deliver care, and to embrace the opportunities that new technologies bring to allow us to do that. I’m also very driven to make colleagues and patients alike aware of issues around mouth cancer, and the link with Human Pappiloma Virus (HPV). In practical terms I have been lobbying parliament for the extension of HPV vaccination for boys as well as girls. To raise awareness of mouth cancer, both inside and outside of the industry, I organised a 500 mile walk from Scotland to Brighton last year , and, in the words of The Proclaimers, I’m currently planning to do “500 more” next year. Camino de Santigao here I come- sponsorship and support always welcome.
You have been described as a mover and shaker of the dental world, leading the way in patient-focused dentistry. Why is this so important to you?
What I understand is meant by patient focused Dentistry, is a move away from the old days when Dental Professionals “treated teeth” or “treated gums”. It was all about the hardware (a bit like a boiler repair man), rather than the needs, aspiration and concerns of the patient. In reality two patients may come to the practice with exactly the same “hardware” problem, but each may end up choosing completely different treatments. I am passionate about my Profession; I fought to become a hygienist in the first instance, almost stalking my local dentist to get taken on as a YTS Dental Nurse. It used to be true that only Dentists could treat and prescribe treatments for patients, but following legislation, which I was very involved in pushing forward, this is no longer true. Hygienists can now offer these services without the need for Dentists to prescribe. This is called Direct Access, and it has always been my vision for people to have the same access to dental hygiene as they have for eye care. As a result of the campaign the General Dental Council removed the barriers to direct access to hygiene services in 2013. This now means that people can walk in off the High street and get their teeth cleaned by me without seeing a Dentist first. My vision has been realised.
Your practice is more ‘open plan’ then your average dental practise. Why has it been designed that way and what are the benefits?
When we came up with the idea of Dental Health Spa we wanted to show that we were not a traditional dental practice and that we’re offering something new and exciting which is open and inviting. We didn’t want people feeling trapped behind closed doors. I suppose it is a bit like some restaurants with open kitchens, they want to show that they have nothing to hide. We do have a sliding door for privacy and offer patients a private area to wait if they need it. It is set up more like an up market hair salon- it’s Spa like. The feedback that we have from our patients is that they love the open, airy environment.
What is your most popular treatment?
Of course a lot of our treatments are particularly about maintaining good oral health, so scale and polishes and prevention advice are a very large part of what we are providing, but our patients are increasingly interested in the cosmetic side of Dentistry, and as well as having cleaner, fresher, healthier mouths, they want stains to be removed, and teeth whitened. Our most popular treatment in this category is Air flow, a sort of gentle air blasting which gives the brighter whiter teeth people are looking for.
What qualities do you look for when recruiting members of your team?
Loyalty, enthusiasm plus a willingness to learn and evolve with the business. Dental Health Spa prides itself on providing professional, customer focused care. This can only be achieved with excellent staff. We must be doing things right as we won the Brighton & Hove Business Awards Best Customer Service accolade in 2013 and have received excellent feedback from our patients.
One in ten people are now estimated to suffer from some form of dental anxiety, which is undoubtedly one of the major barriers in preventing people from visiting the dentist on a regular basis. How can you help people to overcome their fears when visiting Health Dental Spa?
One of Dental Health Spa’s primary objectives is to encourage nervous and anxious patients back into oral healthcare. We do this by ensuring that we have an open and welcoming Spa staffed by an empathetic and caring team. We treat all our patients as people not numbers, we listen to our patients and empower them with knowledge so that they can make informed decisions about their oral health care with our guidance. If a patient just wants to talk about their issues and possible resolutions we are happy to listen. We do not pressurise patients into having treatment and we let them proceed at their own pace.
In 2009 you launched your children’s clinic ‘Spa Kids’. What makes it different to the adults clinic?
Spa kids is all about getting kids engaged and excited about their oral health care without scaring them. Most anxious adults have suffered some form of trauma as a child so it is paramount to ensure that children are not scared away at a young age. We have specialist Dental Therapists who build up a rapport with the kids when demonstrating teeth cleaning techniques and who are qualified to treat small fillings so that the child is more at ease with the procedure. We have our own Bug Busters comic which shows the techniques kids need to learn in a fun and exciting format. We have been out and about at the Kids food festival exposing children’s teeth and demonstrating teeth cleaning techniques and giving guidance on diet and nutrition to empower them, so that they know why they clean their teeth and when and how they should do it. We have the unique opportunity, working with Children and their parents, to ensure that they never need to have a filling. Ever.
You offer pioneering Cosmetic Tooth Alignment, which could be described as a fast, discrete and affordable alternative to traditional orthodontic procedures. How is it possible fast track tooth straightening and to who would you recommend the treatment to?
We offer the Cfast treatment which is minimally invasive invisible braces that straighten the upper and lower front six teeth-the ‘social six’ that make up your visible smile. Cfast uses nickel-titanium wires to straighten the front teeth in a predictable, more comfortable and quicker way than traditional metal braces. We recommend the treatment to patients that want a cosmetic fix to the front teeth (within about 6 months) that are out of alignment or just a bit wonky. Cfast is not suitable for making changes to the bite, which would still require traditional orthodontics.
There are so many over-the-counter tooth whitening treatments on the market, some of which are questionable in terms of safety and effectiveness. What treatments do you offer and what advice would you give to avoid having one of the tooth whitening horror stories we’ve heard of?
Illegal tooth whitening is one of my biggest bugbears be it by way of unqualified people carrying it out in Beauty salons or indeed their own homes or products being sold over the counter or on the internet. Tooth whitening is an act of Dentistry that should only be performed by a qualified Dental professional authorised to use an effective level of Hydrogen Peroxide. In general over-the-counter treatments (which can only contain a maximum of 0.1% Hydrogen Peroxide) are totally ineffectual, but will lighten your pocket! Dental Health Spa offer the most effective in house Zoom tooth whitening treatment which will lighten most teeth by about 6 shades in 2 hours, this is then followed up with a few days of home whitening using 6% Hydrogen Peroxide which is prescribed as part of the treatment. Patients can also opt for a totally at home whitening procedure using the 6% gel which will usually take 2 weeks of daily application. Beware of buying anything over the internet ,as concentrations can be too high or intrinsically dangerous to your health and can cause blistering, burning or irreversible destruction of the tooth enamel! Only ever get your teeth whitened by a dental professional.
What is your top tip for keeping a healthy set of gnashers?
It’s not a new idea or rocket science, brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day with a Fluoride tooth paste and clean between your teeth. Ideally you should visit a Dental Hygienist at least once a year so that you get a deep clean below the gum line where your tooth brush does not reach. Your hygienist will let you know if you need to visit more regularly and give you guidance if your cleaning techniques are not quite hitting the right spots. Spit don’t rinse.