“Everyone made me feel so relaxed and welcome right from the start. My fear of the dentist has completely gone away”
Two of my front teeth had started to come loose and I needed to see a dentist as an emergency patient. I used to run the local post office and one of my customers recommended I try Castle Gate Dental Practice. I live in Amberley, so I could have quite easily gone to a dental practice in Stroud but a personal recommendation goes a long way.
Before I joined Castle Gate it had been 15 years since I’d seen a dentist. I’d had a couple of really bad experiences and it had put me off but I needed emergency treatment so I had to go somewhere.
Everyone at Castle Gate has been fantastic, from the dentist to the reception team and the nurses. They all made me feel so relaxed and welcome right from the start. First impressions are vital and it felt good there straightaway.
At my second appointment I felt like part of the family: they knew my first name, they met my wife and they welcomed us both like friends. At some practices the receptionist doesn’t have a clue who you are, you sit down and they call ‘next’. It’s nothing like that at Castle Gate.
I feel really at ease with Richard. He explained exactly what he would do at each stage, so I knew what was coming. The costing was broken down too so I knew exactly how much everything was. You are never hit with a big bill in one go, which is really good.
I’ve had a tooth splint, chipped teeth sorted, tooth whitening, a tooth removed and I’ve seen the hygienist twice. I have spent about £2,000 in total because I wanted to get my teeth completely sorted before I emigrated to the Philippines. I wouldn’t have done that anywhere else; it’s testament to how good they are. My fear of the dentist has completely gone away.
It doesn’t feel like a dental practice at Castle Gate and I will miss them all as personalities as much as them as a dental team.
"I have only been a patient at Castle Gate Dental for about six months and they have already completely changed my life”
A bit of background is that I was born in 1972 and was number 4 of 6 children. We were all proper street urchins, dirty necks, dirty teeth, generally grotty kids. Never told to brush my teeth or shown how, therefore they were never a priority.
I believe now that I am one of the many people lost from the dental system when the NHS charges came in. Throughout the years I have sought out dental treatment only when in extreme pain to get a tooth removed or filled. In this time the thick solid plaque and tartar around the inside of my teeth and gums kept building to the point where I convinced myself that it was what was holding my teeth in!
Over the last 6 years I started getting a dragging/pulling feeling in my gums. Again not a priority, but slowly my teeth started separating and gaps developed. The gap at the front became really prominent and ugly and I began to smile with my mouth closed to hide it. I work in a supermarket so a very customer-facing environment, but I practiced my ‘no teeth smile’.
At times I would forget and felt as though people’s eyes went straight to my teeth. One day I bumped into someone I hadn’t seen for a while. Later on her Facebook status said: "When you are talking to someone and think for goodness sake sort your teeth out". Although part of me feels she didn’t mean me, part of me thinks she did.
I had already been on Google searching for closing gaps in teeth and I even tried some dodgy rubber bands that were awful. One day the search brought up composite bonding. After looking at some images, that I thought were fake, I Googled composite bonding Gloucestershire. It came up with Castle Gate in Dursley.
Over the next few days I went to and from the website, then came away. Then one evening after a few glasses of wine I just went ahead and filled in the enquiry form. The next day my phone rang and it was a lady who introduced herself as Ruth.
Although I’d decided I wouldn’t go, she was so very kind and spoke about what I had put in the enquiry. It felt like she had taken time out of her day to read and understand about me and my worries, so the least I could do was turn up for a free consultation. We agreed a visit and believe me, it took everything I had to go.
Ruth was there to meet me and keep talking to me. I told her I have never had a bad experience with a dentist, I was just so embarrassed about showing my graveyard teeth and putting it out there. She promised me that she can never recall anyone leaving Castle Gate feeling horrible.
Then I was taken to the treatment room to meet Richard. The situation was, yes I want the gap closed…but I didn’t want anyone to see inside my mouth either. My feeling was dentist, or out the door and the door was winning.
Richard asked me to take a seat then stood across the room from me. He had a lovely manner and such great, relaxed, open body language that eventually I started to feel slightly eased. He asked questions and though I felt mortified inside I answered as honestly as I could. He said he was not there to judge me, he was there to help.
He asked to look inside my mouth and there they were, my brown, gappy, horrible teeth with loads of rock-solid rubbish on them. He didn’t look shocked and was very calmly describing what he was doing and that immediate attention was needed to my gums. He said I had advanced gum disease and I just remember hearing a lot of 3 and 4 numbers. Richard said he could and would do the composite bonding, however we needed to get my gums fixed first. I felt relieved, but also nervous because this meant yet again showing my teeth to somebody else.
Ruth met me on the way out and was also reassuring. She made my first appointment with a hygienist called Lynne. When I met Lynne I was again nervous, though not as much as previously, I had been braver taking the first step. I needn’t have worried, clearly Lynne knew what was coming and was lovely. She was very much about helping my gums, then teaching me to care about them myself too. She got all the build up off my teeth and gave me Corsodyl toothpastes for my gums, then in the final stages sensitive toothpaste as I had a lot of dentine exposed where the plaque and tartar had been removed.
Once my gums were recovering I could go back to Richard for whitening and the composite bonding. I had my own special moulds made for my teeth for the whitening, which also seemed to support my teeth and stop the dragging feeling, as it felt they were trying to move.
Eventually the date came for my composite bonding, I was so excited I think I smiled all the way through it! When I saw the result I almost flew off the chair. My teeth are proper amazing!! I am absolutely delighted with them – I look like I have £10,000 teeth! This could only have been achieved following the care and compassion shown to me at Castle Gate. I am absolutely over the moon and say that I would walk round smiling with a billboard for them if they want!
I think people still kind of feel that private dental care is quite selective and expensive; I want to squash that. It is not at all. I did the pay as you go, which means you always know what’s coming and what it will cost. It was all reasonable, no shocks. Besides you cannot put a price on the way I feel now when I smile.
Also when I talk about my poor dental education, although I did tell my son to brush his teeth, I didn’t know the correct way to show him. He has recently begun treatment at Castle Gate too and I am very excited for him.
I am a smoker so I had thought I was going to get told off and be humiliated but they were so kind and understanding. They have re-educated me. I’m 45 years old so it has taken some getting used to but I now brush my teeth properly and use TePe brushes. It’s all a learning curve and I am trying. My gum health has improved so much - my teeth are the best they have ever been. So that I don’t get lost in the system again I have decided to join the Castle Gate dental plan, so I will see the hygienist every 3 months and have a check with Richard twice a year.
Castle Gate are absolutely wonderful 10 out of 10. Thank you all so much.
"My Castle Gate insurance covered up to £7,000 worth of dental treatment, which was fantastic.”
I was on holiday in Greece last year and one evening we had gone to see some friends who’d rented a villa. We were in their infinity pool in the pitch dark and I got to the edge and hopped out. The next thing I knew I was in hospital.
Unbeknown to me the pool was abutted into a cliff edge and I’d fallen down a 15-foot drop onto a solid stone floor and then down 12 stone steps. I had a 5-inch scar on the back of my head and had smashed in my four front teeth. I was lucky to be alive - if my friend hadn’t seen me get out of the pool, I’d have bled out for sure.
Although I’d had a CT scan in the Greek hospital to check I hadn’t cracked my skull I didn’t want the dentist to do anything to my teeth. I got an early flight home and the next day went straight to see Richard Whitcombe.
I have been a member of Castle Gate Dental Practice for as long as I can remember and I’ve been on their monthly membership plan since it was first introduced.
Richard took out the broken teeth and created a four-tooth denture. A week later I had new teeth. He said I required dental implant treatment and as I’m based in London - and because Castle Gate doesn’t place implants - I was able to have the implant treatment carried out where I live.
The policy covered up to a total of £7,000 worth of dental treatment, so this included the appointments I’d had at Castle Gate, the initial denture and the implant treatment. This was fantastic and meant I only had to pay the difference of about £500. I had no idea the insurance policy included accident and emergency cover abroad and it wasn’t until Ruth (the practice manager) mentioned it that we realised. It was a welcome surprise!
“I’ve finally overcome my fear of going to the dentist and can’t praise Richard and the treatment received enough,”
I have been terrified of the dentist ever since my school days and I have put up with incredible pain just to avoid going. Now that I have found Richard Whitcombe at Castle Gate Dental Surgery I certainly won’t be looking for anyone else. He’s absolutely amazing.
I have always been very careful with money and seeing a private dentist felt like a luxury for us working class people. My husband was already a patient at Castle Gate and he said the only reason he had still got his teeth was because of them and he offered to pay my subscription.
Just after Christmas I fell and smacked my head on the patio cracking one of my teeth. Eventually the pain became so bad I realised I had to go to the dentist. My grand-daughter needed root canal treatment and I thought if she can do it at 11, then so can I.
My husband had explained to Richard just how nervous I was. I had a 45-minute appointment with Richard who was absolutely brilliant. He injected me so gently that it didn’t even hurt; I couldn’t believe it. In fact I didn’t feel any pain all the way through my root canal treatment. Richard said the infection poured out – but I had been so frightened, I had dealt with the pain.
I’ve had to go back for subsequent treatment a few times and Richard’s been fantastic. He’s a very calm person and so gentle, which calms me. He talks to me before and throughout treatment. I can even lie back in the chair and feel relaxed now.
I suffer from anxiety and have learnt mindfulness and breathing techniques that I use to deal with anxious situations. Now I sit back and look up through the ceiling light in his surgery at the birds and the clouds going past, which really helps as well.
What I would say to other people who are nervous about seeing a dentist is, give Richard a try. If I can overcome the fear I’ve had, then hopefully others can do the same. I have recommended him to my nurse and my friends – he’s amazing.
“Joining Castle Gate is the best thing I’ve ever done – they are absolutely fantastic!”
I had been living in Australia and New Zealand for the past 20 years and when I came back to Dursely I knew I needed to find a dentist. I found Castle Gate Dental Practice on the internet and thought I would go and see how I got on.
I have seen so many dentists over the past few years and I’d had a bad experience that meant I had started to lose confidence in my teeth. Joining Castle Gate is the best thing I have ever done - they are absolutely fantastic. My whole family goes there now and I recommend them all the time.
I saw Richard Whitcombe for a new patient examination and then Lynne for dental hygiene. I am really happy with how my appointments have gone. It is so good to be able to speak positively about an experience nowadays.
Richard really cares about his patients and has time for you. He went through everything and showed me what was wrong. With other dentists I have seen it has been in, bang and out again. This was completely different. It’s unbelievable how good they are. I would recommend them 110% and word of mouth is the best kind of advertisement you can get I think.
My wife had had lots of trouble with a crown she’d had fitted elsewhere but Richard has put the whole lot right and she’s absolutely delighted.
With my hygiene treatment Lynne totally blew me away! She really cares about what she does and provides old-school customer service. So many people just aren’t interested in what they do but Lynne is. She has shown me how to use the little interdental brushes properly and I now use them every morning without fail. She has given me the right tools for the job and they work.
Most of the dentists in Australia and New Zealand are private so I have experience of private dentistry but I would say Richard is the best dentist I’ve ever been to.
“I have hated my teeth for pretty much my whole life. Now I can’t stop smiling - my teeth are amazing!”
I had heard of Six Month Smiles and the main thing that appealed to me was the length of time it would take to straighten my teeth. I Googled the treatment and found that the nearest dental practice to me was Castle Gate in Dursley, so I booked the free initial consultation offered on their website.
The free consultation was with Richard Whitcombe and it all went very smoothly. I was really happy with everything Richard told me and I booked up there and then. Ten months later my treatment was complete. It didn’t bother me that it took a little bit longer than six months because it was still much quicker than anything else.
My teeth were really quite crooked and my canines were very prominent. They have bothered me for years. I was offered a brace when I was a teenager but I was a nervous wreck about going to the dentist, so I chickened out the first time. I tried again about a year later but I was just as terrified. I had been told I needed to have four or five teeth taken out and the thought of that made me feel very panicky.
Then I turned 18 and I knew I would have to pay for braces but this actually helped in a weird way. It still took me until I was 22 to pluck up the courage but I thought ‘I’ve paid now so I have to go through with it’.
I only had to have one tooth taken out, which was great. It really helped that Richard explained absolutely everything to me, so I wasn’t worried about the treatment as I knew exactly what was going to happen.
The brace itself was absolutely fine. It was a bit uncomfortable for the first couple of weeks but after that I didn’t even know they were there. I went back for monthly adjustments and the whole process was fine. My teeth are amazing and I am so happy with the results.