Una’s case study

Una defies the years and travels 800 miles to restore her smile

Una Oakley is 86 years young and it shows. Sprightly, articulate, eager to embrace life, she is the epitome of what being senior should be.

Nodding knowingly, and with a disarming cheeky laugh, she is one of a growing number of older people who are determined to defy the encroaching years.

The former Red Cross worker and legal secretary from Lower Gornal and her doctor husband, Douglas, retired to an apartment in Llandudno – one of the most scenic coastal spots in the UK – but trouble with her teeth unexpectedly brought her back to her Black Country roots.

After being prescribed new dentures at the Dental Clinic, North Street, Dudley, Una confidently declares: “I feel a different person now.”

Contracting a mysterious gum infection in 1980 after a routine dental visit, Una found herself being treated by a number of consultants at Birmingham Dental Hospital.

Referred by her own dental surgeon, she recalls: “No-one could define the infection. I was treated by two hospital consultants and a dental professor, but all they could say was that it was not a gingivitis bacteria that I’d contracted.

“Obviously attempts were made to trace its source, but the dentist I had seen had disappeared without trace. No-one ever found him,” she says.

For five years she continued to receive treatment at the hospital, but every endeavour to save her teeth failed. Various gum therapies and capping her teeth did nothing to halt the periodontal decline.

“I was given a plate, but the remainder of my own teeth were becoming loose and I pulled out the final remaining three myself.”

Her last full set of dentures was dispensed more than 20 years ago. “They lasted well,” she adds, “but about three years ago, people noticed I was holding my hand to my mouth and talking through my fingers. I didn’t even realise.

“I hadn’t consciously made that decision, but when I smiled you could not see any teeth – they were so worn down. I was effectively chewing just on the plate.

“It was my husband saying ‘stop talking through your fingers’ that made me do something about it,” she says.

Recommended by a friend to the Denture Clinic, Una and her husband made a 250-mile round trip to find help.

“I never realised I’d lost so much confidence,” says Una. “My lack of confidence had slowly crept up on me and I didn’t see it.”

Una’s initial visit to the clinic to see principal Steven Burchell Dip CDT RCS(Eng) GDC108353 was hugely encouraging. “As soon as I walked in, I instinctively felt there was someone that could do something for me.

“I had come hoping that I could have suction valve dentures, but my gums were not at all suitable.

“Steven was not pushy, explained fully the options I had and asked me to go away and think about it. I was so impressed at his relaxed manner. He just gave me the information and let me make up my own mind. I felt confident and reassured and there was no pressure at all,” she says.

Una’s treatment has involved six visits to the clinic – a total of some 800 miles of driving – with her husband acting as chauffeur.

Was it worth it?

She replies with an emphatic “yes”, smiles and adds: “They don’t look false.”

Steven explains that Una’s case was a difficult one and involved taking “functional impressions,” a procedure where a bespoke template is made and the patient has to perform a number of mouth movements onto dental putty.

“It’s the ultimate working model,” says Steven.

He adds: “Una’s gums in her lower jaw had a negative profile – a inward curve, rather than the usual raised profile. The only way we could assure good function, stability and comfort was to achieve an absolute perfect fit. With this kind of problem there’s no room for error.

“I’m very pleased with the happy clinical outcome, but this has been a team solution and the laboratory technicians here have worked miracles. Her decision to have this treatment underpins my personal belief that no-one is too old to get their teeth sorted and enhance their quality of life.”

Denture Clinic Una’s case study

Una’s case study – Una after her treatment at the Denture Clinic

Una’s case study at the Denture Clinic is just one in a series of informative articles. Read the rest on our case study page.

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