Chichester dentist surgery opening its doors

Vicky meets...Lewis Payne, receptionist at Little London Dentist

Lewis Payne VM
Lewis Payne VM

You went from dancing to dentistry. How?

I trained as a dancer initially, but I decided to take an opportunity to work in optics and to undergo further study in the field. But the high level of mathematics involved was a struggle for me and I got to a point where I really wasn’t enjoying it. I saw the job advertised here at Little London and it was a perfect fit. I have always been a people person and for me coming in to work and being part of a team is a great feeling. I’m now hopefully going to go on and train as a practice manager.

What skills does a good receptionist need?

As the first point of contact when someone walks through the door it’s our job to make people feel welcome and reassured. People sometimes become frustrated by the system, so you need patience and empathy. You also need to be diplomatic and a good listener. You do need a very thick skin, but 99 per cent of patients are wonderful and make my day.

How do you deal with patients who are fearful of seeing the dentist and who are visibly anxious when they come in?

Some people do find visiting the dentist an anxious thing, possibly as a result of a bad experience in childhood. I do try to spot people who might need an extra bit of reassurance and if someone looks very tense but makes it clear that they don’t want to chat then I might just leave a stress ball on the counter. Very often they pick it up and go and use it while they wait for their appointment. Our aim is to make people feel calmer, reassured and cared for.

What’s the best way to introduce children to the dentist?

The sooner you can get a child in the dentist’s chair the better. If we can get a six-month old sitting on mums lap while mum has a check-up then that is brilliant. They learn early on that there is nothing to fear.

You are a big supporter of the NHS. Why?

We are so privileged to have the NHS but people don’t always value it. It gets a lot of bad press but I think it is the best thing that this country has and it does an amazing job. As a child I was very reliant on the NHS as I was premature. Without the NHS I might not be here.

Why are you welcoming visitors to look around on Friday, November 8?

We are having an open day. Come and register, meet the staff and get a feel for our surgery. It’s also a day for industry professionals to see if they want to join us. Pop me an email with any questions: [email protected]

What is down time for you?

Reading. I especially love fantasy fiction – pure escapism!