Princess Anne opens £78m Royal London dental hospital in Whitechapel
- Credit: Archant
Princess Anne has been touring the Royal London Hospital’s new £78 million dental hospital and school in Whitechapel today where she met a little girl who used to be scared of dentists.
She gave the new complex her “royal seal of approval” meeting patients as well as dental staff from Barts Health NHS Trust and students from Queen Mary University.
Among the patients was 10-year-old Rosanna Lucas who presented her with a posy of flowers.
Rosanna had four teeth impacted in her jaw bone when she was eight, causing her intense pain, sinus problems and worsening her hearing condition which meant that she was missing lots of school, the Princess Royal heard.
Rosanna’s fear of going to the dentist meant that the procedure was originally going to be carried out under general anaesthetic.
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But she was also scared of that too, after her experience having grommets fitted in her ears as a young child.
So hospital specialists carefully explained what was happening and gained her trust.
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Rosanna overcame her fear and only needed local anaesthetic which is far safer for children.
“I knew my daughter was scared of the dentist and didn’t want her carrying that fear for life,” Rosanna’s mum Carly Lucas explained. “Going to the dentist is so much easier now—when you get it right as a child, you get it right for life.”
The new dental centre which took a decade of planning and building can handle 70,000 appointments a year.
The move to the five-storey premises, occupying the equivalent of three football pitches, took place over six weeks last year.
Princess Anne unveiled a plaque this-afternoon to mark the opening of Britain’s first new dental school and hospital in nearly 40 years.
She said: “The real changes in technology used today have moved on quite a bit and new buildings like this give the opportunity to see how well it works for everyone. There is a very nice atmosphere here.”
Patients are referred from all over London for orthodontics, paediatric dentistry, restorative dentistry and oral surgery. The centre also provides specialist trauma and cancer services, performing 4,000 operations a year.
But its chore aim is to improve dental health in the deprived East End.
Queen Mary University’s Dean for Dentistry Prof Mike Curtis explained: “Our local communities face some of the most challenging health needs anywhere in the UK and the new hospital has a role to play with our internationally-recognised research.”
Tower Hamlets has high rates of child dental decay, affecting nearly half of all five-year-olds, more than anywhere else across London.
There is low uptake of dental services with has high rates of gum disease and mouth cancer in adults, above the national average.
The Royal London was recently ranked the top dental school in the UK, training 400 students each year.