accessibility & help

'After 40 years, I can finally smile again'

Nobody likes visiting the dentist, but poor Ann’s dental phobia meant she hadn’t had a check-up for 40 years – and she was in painful misery.

It’s no exaggeration to say Ann Thomas was suffering from a genuine phobia – even a mere mention of the word ‘dentist’ would send her into a state of panic.

This meant the pensioner, from Rhydyfelin in Wales, hadn’t darkened a dentist’s doorway in decades – and now the neglect was starting to seriously affect her health.

Ann recalled: “I was suffering from nasty fungal infections in my mouth. I was also in constant pain from my broken teeth, which were leaving big holes in my cheeks and tongue.”

She added: “I spent a lot of time alone and didn’t want to leave the house. I guess I had given up, really.

“One day, the pain was so bad I thought: If God would take me today, I’d be quite happy.”

Three goals

Besides her health problems, Ann was also struggling financially. It seemed as though there was no way out of her troubles.

But luckily, Ann’s GP recognised she needed help and referred her to our support at home service.

Soon, support worker Chris Normanton started calling round every week – and the effect was immediate.

“Meeting Chris was marvellous,” said Ann. “I was so grateful for his visits – he helped me emotionally as well as with practical things.”

Chris explained: “We set three goals to reach within three months. The top priority was getting Ann to see a dentist, as she wasn’t eating properly and was in constant pain. We also agreed to look at her finances, and try to get her out and about again.”

All smiles

After some enquiries, Chris found a good local NHS dentist who would by sympathetic to Ann’s fears. Luckily, a suitable dentist was found just a mile away from Ann’s home and an appointment was made.

Looking back, Ann said: “I honestly don’t think I could’ve gone through with it without the Red Cross. They came and picked me up, drove me to the surgery and sat next to me while I had the work done.

I kept looking over to check that they were still there – if I could see them sitting in the chair, I felt okay. The dentist was marvellous too – he really put me at ease and the whole experience was much easier than I’d been imagining.

“I thought I’d need to have all my teeth taken out, but they only took six and fitted me with some new ones. When I got home I stood in front of the mirror, and just smiled and smiled!”

‘Different person’

Ann’s confidence soared in the weeks after, to the extent she was happy to make follow-up dental appointments alone. Chris also referred the pensioner to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, which helped reorganise her finances.

Ann couldn’t be happier: “After getting my teeth sorted, I feel like a different person. The Red Cross put me back on track and I can’t thank them enough. Without Chris’ help, I’d either be dead or still sitting in my chair, in constant pain.

“I get out and about a lot more now, and recently had dinner at the local Church, where I met lots of old friends who I’ll be joining at the day centre next week.

“The Red Cross has made an enormous difference to my life.”

Find out more about our support at home service.

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