When the Urchfont Dental Centre in Wiltshire was renovated, its new owner Gwynnifer Henning had one priority – a children’s playhouse in reception! When it looked as if the playhouse might not fit into the practice, the builders were ready to make additional space to accommodate it.
Now it’s an important and popular fixture in the practice. Children arrive early for their appointments so they have time to play in it and if they are ever reluctant to leave the playhouse, then Gwynnifer will join them and make pretend cups of tea until they are ready to transfer to her surgery.
She has a small NHS contract which limits the number of patients she can see. But treating children is her priority and throughout the year she offers oral hygiene days when children can turn up for a dental check and be given a fluoride varnish application to protect their teeth.
Her career in dentistry is the result of a traumatic accident as an 18-year-old when she lost her front teeth. The dentists who treated her were so dedicated to restoring her smile that she decided to become a dentist instead of going to veterinary school. Once she got to Bristol University dental school, she was inspired by one of her lecturers, Dr Peter Crawford, who was passionate about the care of young children.
Having first worked as an associate dentist at the Urchfont Dental Centre not far from Stonehenge in Wiltshire, Gwynnifer took over the practice a few years ago. She and her dental team have made a point of going out to schools and centres to educate children and their parents in good oral hygiene.
When she heard about the Dental Check by One campaign early this year, she got on board and started recommending an early visit to the dentist in her literature. Between January and August 2019 she saw a 17% increase in children aged three and under!
It was this achievement which helped make her the winner of the NASDAL practice of the year award in 2019. Her prize is a cheque for £1000 which she is going to spend on more resources for children as well as goodie bags for pregnant Mums.