Providing special care at St Paul’s Dental Practice.


Meet Sally. Sally is our Dental Nurse who has a specific interest and additional training to support people attending our Practice with special needs.

It is Sally’s goal to identify and consider the individual needs of anyone with learning or physical impairment; communication difficulties; mental health issues or anxiety, to give some examples.

Her extended knowledge helps us provide effective, co-ordinated dental care and helps to overcome the barriers that make attending the dental practice challenging for some people.

In addition to ensuring access to dental care and treatment is possible for everyone, Sally’s role is key to promoting oral health and well being for those with special needs.

Often patients such as this have complex health needs that may compromise their oral health. They may be taking multiple medications resulting in side effects and drug interactions causing symptoms such as a dry mouth (Xerostomia); difficulty or discomfort in chewing or swallowing (Dysphagia); soreness from denture wearing or overgrowth of their gum tissue (Gingival Hyperplasia).

Periodontitis (inflammatory gum disease) linked to Alzheimer’s  progression.

A recent study by the University of Southampton revealed that the presence of gum disease was associated with an increase in the rate of cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients, as a result of systemic inflammation.

This highlights the importance of treating gum disease and optimising the oral health of people with Alzheimer’s.

Gum disease is widespread in the UK and in older age groups is a major cause of tooth loss. A number of studies have shown that having fewer teeth, probably as a consequence of earlier gum disease, is associated with a greater risk of developing dementia and patients with dementia have poorer dental health than others of a similar age.

People with cognitive or physical impairment are likely to find it more difficult to maintain their oral hygiene routine so it is essential that they attend the Dentist and Hygienist on a regular basis and get the additional support they need from a Special Care dental nurse.


What else can our Special Care dental nurse offer?

  • assistance with communication, mobility or transport.
  • liaison with other organisations for on-going referral, such as community or domicillary care; orthodontic or sedation services.
  • the timely management of appointments, adjusting length or time of day according to individual needs.
  • reviewing medications for any interactions or contraindications for oral health.
  • education for patients and care givers about oral health needs and required treatments
  • providing user friendly information leaflets
  • teaching assisted tooth brushing techniques; the effective use of interdental aids; appropriate mouth washes and care of appliances
  • promoting preventative care, fluoride applications and an appropriate diet
  • advising on aids and adaptations; such as the ‘collis curve’ adapted tooth brush and custom made mouth cleaning devices.







If you feel you need some help or advice for yourself or someone you care for, we’ll put you in touch with Sally. Contact our reception team or for more information on dental care for people with special needs, follow the link below from the Oral Health Foundation.

The Dental Therapist?

What is a Dental Therapist?

So you’ve been in to see your Dentist for your routine check-up and they’ve identified some treatment you require to keep your mouth in top health.

As you can see our surgery is kept busy with a large volume of patients and your Dentist is concerned not to keep you waiting too long before the required treatment is done.


They know from their examination, exactly what the treatment will involve and that it will be straightforward to complete, so this is an ideal situation to take advantage of the skills of a Dental Therapist.

When and how were Therapists introduced?

The role of the Dental Therapist emerged after a change in legislation in July 2002 enabled suitably qualified, registered dental professionals to carry out certain items of dental treatment direct to patients, under prescription from a Dentist.

How are Dental Therapists trained?

There are several ways to qualify as a Therapist/Hygienist-Therapist.

  • Diploma in Dental Hygiene & Therapy – two year full time course
  • BSc in Oral Health Science – three year full time course
  • BSc (Hons) – four year course


The entry requirements for these courses vary but to have worked in a dental environment and obtained a dental nurse qualification first is the usual route.

What the training involves is determined by the General Dental Council (GDC), as is the Therapists’ ‘Scope of Practice’.

What does ‘Scope of Practice’ mean?

The GDC which regulates the dental profession, defines ‘Scope of Practice’ as ‘a way of describing what you are trained and competent to do. It describes the areas in which you have the knowledge, skills and experience to practise safely and effectively in the best interests of patients’.

What treatment can a Dental Therapist do?

Therapists are trained and competent to:

  • Re-cement crowns
  • Take impressions
  • Carry out direct restorations (fillings)
  • Perform pulpotomies, (removal of infected portions of the pulp tissue in a tooth)
  • Extract primary teeth

In many ways Therapy is an extension to the role of a Hygienist. For a full description of their roles follow this link.

Our Hygiene/Therapy Team.

At St Paul’s, both our Hygienists are also trained Therapists. We feel this gives us a great advantage because of the greater depth of knowledge and range of skills they have, as well as the benefits of continuity to patients who will most likely already know them in their role as Hygienist and will have confidence in them when they receive treatment from them as a Therapist.

What you should expect from us when you need dental treatment.

  • To be seen in a timely manner
  • It should be made clear after your dental examination what treatment is necessary. A treatment plan is created for you.
  • Your Dentist will discuss the treatment with you and decide with you who will carry out the treatment, either themselves or a Therapist.
  • An appointment for the treatment will be made by our reception staff at a convenient date and time.






Great Feedback

Just recently we received this great feedback from someone who was visiting our Practice for the first time, it highlighted several important things.


Fear and anxiety in attending a dental practice is extremely common, to the point that people will put off attending for routine care and put up with dental pain, infections or even broken teeth.

In a survey by the British Dental Health Foundation, 36% of those who didn’t see a dentist regularly said that fear was the main reason.

As a result, people with dental anxiety have a higher risk of gum disease and early tooth loss, exacerbating a need to attend.

If you feel anxious about a dental appointment, the first thing to do is tell us. Talking through your reasons for feeling nervous will help you realise we really do understand and will take you through things slowly and reassuringly.

As this lady found, she didn’t need the treatment she dreaded most. We are committed to preventive dentistry and visiting the Hygienist is the perfect way to keep your oral health in tip top condition and avoid problems in the future. So don’t put off visiting us, attend regularly and build your confidence.

All our staff from the Dentist, Hygienist, nurses and receptionists are here to make your experience as relaxed and pleasant as possible. It makes our role very rewarding when this approach pays off and we receive such positive feedback.

Knowledge is key.


We can’t help feeling proud of the effort and enthusiasm made by the team keeping pace with developments in Dentistry, fulfilling our Practice ethos to encourage and support learning and skills training for team members.
2015 was no less busy than previous years in this respect.

Sally achieved a certificate in Special Care Dental Nursing, giving us insight and knowledge to make dentistry more accessible and user friendly for less able people attending their dental appointments. special care dentistry

Rebecca completed training to become Decontamination and Infection Control Lead. Keeping our state of the art instrument sterilisation room and infection prevention protocols running smoothly at to a very high standard.





Anna has just completed training in Fluoride Varnish application, a very beneficial treatment for protecting children’s growing teeth from developing decay.

fluoride varnish

Marsha is currently studying for her Dental Nursing Qualification.

Michaela is attending a course to achieve a certificate in Dental Implant Nursing.

And 2016 will be no different. We will be looking out for more training opportunities for all team members, to nurture their professional development, benefit the service standards we provide and keep our Practice at the forefront of our profession.