Shaftesbury’s new dental practice has begun treating patients. Eve Henkel and Geoff Cockrell opened the Ivy Cross Dental Surgery last Monday in a converted semi-detached property at 1 Grosvenor Road.
Principal Dentist Geoff trained at Guy’s Hospital from 1997 and in addition to dentistry, he’s an experienced surgeon with a head and neck injury specialism. The couple have invested in their state-of-the-art CT scanner, which takes 3D X-ray images of skulls, heads and necks.
Geoff believes that it could benefit medical patients too, not just dental patients, and reduce the number of journeys for scans in hospitals in Poole and Salisbury. “We can identify pathology or offer treatments that wouldn’t be available to clinicians who didn’t have that type of machine,” Geoff says.
This CT scanner is being used for planning dental implants at the moment. “It allows us to observe structures hidden below the surface of the skull, such as nerves, sinuses, blood vessels or the canals in which they lie. We can make sure that, if we are going to be doing any treatment, we avoid or are careful about those areas,” Geoff says. “We would like to offer local practices the opportunity to send patients who would like to have implants or more complex procedures, if they don’t feel that they have the equipment or the skillset to deal with them,” says Geoff.
The scanner can also highlight abnormalities. Last week, a scan revealed a growth in a patient’s sinus. “That wouldn’t have been spotted ordinarily. It gives us the opportunity to refer that individual back to their own dentist, GP or hospital. It was just an incidental finding. That’s what’s nice about the scanner. Things that might not have been picked up otherwise can be identified in that way,” says Geoff.
Geoff hopes that local medical practices will use this CT scanner instead of sending patients for examination in nearby hospitals. “It is a machine that offers a much lower dose of radiation yet gives you a very high resolution image. We will certainly be speaking to those bodies,” he says.
Geoff is experienced in some of the more complex dental procedures. “We can offer implants, to restore teeth that have been lost. We can also do bone grafting or get rid of problems caused by bony structures, which can create issues with denture placement. We also undertake the extraction of complicated teeth, such as wisdom teeth, which are buried beneath the bone, or removing teeth that a regular dentist might not feel comfortable about removing without the additional information from the CT scanner.”
The new surgery is a private practice. The couple explained that they are not taking on NHS patients because they want to spend more time with patients than the NHS system allows. “We don’t want a massive amounts of patients,” says Eve. “We’d rather have a few and spend a longer time with them. We’re not looking at building up our list to the point where we can only do a 10-minute examination. It will be nice to have this family feeling in our surgery.”
“There are some excellent NHS dentists,” adds Geoff. “We take our hats off to those people who remain in the NHS. It’s very laudable. There are lots of pressures on them. With the number of NHS dentists reducing and the population increasing, the demand on those remaining services will be higher. We didn’t want our patients to feel under pressure in terms of time.”
As a private dental surgery, Geoff says they can offer more choice for the patient. “All the materials used within the NHS are reputable and adequate for the job needed. But as with anything in life, you can always choose what you want. We might be able to offer a large range of colours or materials made of a higher quality,” he says.
Geoff was commuting to Poole from Warminster and passed through Shaftesbury regularly. He says that the couple knew that they wanted to relocate here. “I love Shaftesbury. It has incredibly beautiful countryside. We’ve driven and walked in this area and we really enjoy it. It seems like the right place for us to be,” says Geoff.
Geoff and Eve’s life will now be focussed on Shaftesbury. They’ve not just moved to the town to work. They’ve made Shaftesbury their home. “We are living above the dental surgery. It’s quite convenient. We don’t have much of a commute in the mornings,” Geoff jokes. “It’s been great during the setting up phase because we have got so much to do. We’ve not been too far away if there are problems or issues and if patients need us we can be on hand to resolve those issues.”
As Surgery Lead, one of Eve’s roles will be to calm nervous patients. So how does she do it? “It’s just chatting, being as normal and friendly as you can. We had a young lady in today and she said she was so scared of the dentist but I think the most important thing is to establish why patients are scared. Most people have had a bad experience and they build on that. The most important thing is to let the patients know that they are in control. Even during a treatment session, if they lift their hand and say they want a break that is fine. If they wish, they can go home and we can do the treatment on another day,” Eve says.
Before Eve moved to the UK in 2007, she worked in dental practices in her native Germany for 20 years. Eve says that British patients would find the German approach to dental care very different. “Dental nurses are trained for three years in Germany. Over here it is one year. The dentist’s set up is completely different. A German dentist could operate up to three surgeries in one setting. They’d have, perhaps, four nurses working for them. They would start a procedure in one room, then let the nurse finish what the dentist started. The dentist would then hop into the next room and give an injection then move into another room. They work flat out. Nurses do much more work over there,” says Eve.
The couple hopes that the practice will grow – but not massively. “We hope to be able to bring in a part-time associate and we’re hoping that some of our hospital colleagues will be able to come and work with us. That will not only allow us to see more patients but we will be able to work together as a team. We’re happy to work on our own independently but it’s nice to be able to collaborate with colleagues and that means that the patient gets a different level of care,” says Geoff.
You can find the surgery online at IvyCrossDental.com.