Practice makes perfect
There’s a New Age dentist in Glasgow promising a revolutionary approach to tooth care using virtual reality, soothing smells and foot tickling. Conﬁrmed dentophobe Alastair Mabbott stares at
the ceiling and says ‘ahhhh’.
Stumble in off the street. and you‘d think you were in the reception area of a prosperous advertising agency. or a design consultancy. or even a gallery. Paintings by young Glaswegian artists are tastefully arranged around the walls. and an installation incorporating television screens. kaleidoscopes and bubbling walls of water takes up the greater part of the ﬂoorspace. But don’t try too hard to divine the artistic intentions behind the neat stack of toothpaste, brushes and dental ﬂoss in the corner — it’s not another exhibit. You‘re actually in a dentist‘s waiting room. And there‘s not a Reader's Digest or Woman Is ()im in sight.
‘The keywords to the whole thing are relaxation. enjoyment and education.‘ says W. Lloyd Jerome. whose brainchild The Dental Practice is. With his Armani spectacle-frames and purple polo-neck. he ﬁts so perfectly into the surroundings that it‘s easy to believe his claims that a clinic like this has been a dream since he was a student.
In nine years as a qualified dentist. Jerome has realised that one thing British waiting rooms have in common is that they exacerbate ‘dental nervousness‘. He was more impressed by the attitude in Australia. where all
are ticked off. Hypnosis has become an accepted tool of the dental trade these days, so no surprises there. But aromatherapists and foot masseurs are on standby too. and there are some more technical tools ready to be whipped out of the annoury, like electronic anaesthesia. which lets the patient feel everything that's going on while blocking off the pain.
Jerome has an appetite for promotional gimmicks more usually associated with club-runners than a tooth-puller and he admits to having
‘Jerome has an appetite for promotional gimmicks more usually associated with club- runners than a tooth-puller.’
dentistry is private and. consequently. practitioners try to design their premises in ways that please clients. ‘But I‘ve not seen any dental practices like this one.‘ he says. proudly. ‘Where I drew my inspiration from is not from existing practices but much more from first principles.‘
Those principles are. basically. to put patients ﬁrst. treating them in a ‘wholistic‘ (note the ‘w‘) way, acknowledging the dread that 50 per cent of the population has of the dentist. Although he confidently asserts .hat there is no more actual physical pain involved in dental work than. say, jogging. Jerome is sympathetic to those who would sooner make an appointment with the Spanish Inquisition than their dentist.
'I remember having teeth drilled slowly without anaesthetic when l was a child. I’m not a good dental patient. and that's part ofthe reason I‘ve put this together like I have. I last had work done on my teeth two months ago. I‘m not a bad patient. because I can hypnotise myselfnow. But I’d still rather not be there.‘
Inside the airy. lemon-painted surgery. The Dental Practice‘s blend of 80s corporatism with 90s patient- fn'endliness. cutting-edge (ouch!) technology with new-age alternative therapy. is at its most extreme. Reproductions of the professionally- designed logo are set into the floor. its purple. green and blue colours picked
‘Peopie don’t feel that I’m going to turn my back in a Jekyll and Hyde kind of way and return to them with something incredibly sharp. If the sharpest thing In my hand is a camera, they can ieel more relaxed.’
up on a modernist couch. The couch, not the dreaded chair. is where Jerome performs checkups —— ‘so that people don't feel that I‘m going to turn my back in a Jekyll and Hyde kind of way
and return to them with something incredibly sharp. If the sharpest thing in my hand is a camera. they can feel more relaxed.‘
A camera? Oh. yes: with the help ofa pair of video goggles. prospective patients can be given a dentist's—eye view ofthe parts of their mouths that need treated. Plug the goggles into a different socket and videos can be projected onto them to provide a distraction from the dental surgery. (Marathon Man is not recommended viewing.)
From here, a number of other options
been out Ieaﬂetting in some of Glasgow's more style-conscious bars. The Dental Practice is also conveniently situated near The Italian Centre, the designer clothing hub of Glasgow. There's an ambitious. niche- spotting mind behind that easy bedside manner. and it's a sure bet that dentists around the country will be watching this practice closely to see if it really is the future. Have we seen the dawn of the dentique?
The Dental Practice is at 58 Virginia Street. Glasgow. Details on 04 I 552 7733.
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"A legendary meeting place for performers and public alike"
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Clerk Street Edinburgh EH8 9J0 Telephone 031—668 3456
The List l7—30 June I994 81