The Princess Royal has officially opened Britain’s first dental school and hospital in nearly 40 years during a visit to the east end of London. During her trip to Whitechapel, the Princess met patients and staff at the medical centre which will treat around 70,000 people every year.
Princess Anne was shown around the state of the art facilities which include facial scanning equipment, digital imaging technology, 22 specially built rooms for complex consultations and 111 dental laboratories.
The Princess was clearly impressed, telling staff: “It is a pleasure and a privilege to see the real step changes in technology used today. It has moved on quite a bit and new buildings like this give the opportunity to see how well it works for everyone.”
The new facilities – The Queen Mary University of London’s Dental School within The Royal London Dental Hospital – cost £78 million and took more than ten years of planning and construction. Staff began work there in June last year but the visit of the Princess Royal, last weekend, marked the official opening. The facility is five storeys high, covers an area equivalent to three football pitches, and the treatment and research carried out there is among the most modern and technologically advanced in the UK.
During her visit, the Princess met a ten year old girl who has already been looked after by staff working at the new facility. Princess Anne was presented with a posy of flowers by Rosanna Lucas who had to have four teeth removed and was helped by experts to overcome her fear of dentists to be able to undergo the procedure. At one point, Rosanna’s parents thought she might have to have a general anaesthetic to have the teeth removed – they were impacted in her jaw bone and causing a lot of pain – but staff worked hard to win the little girl’s trust and explain the procedure to her and she managed to have the work done with just a local anaesthetic.
The hospital and school will take patients from all over the UK but it also faces serious dental health challenges within its local community. It’s in the middle of Tower Hamlets, which has the highest rate of child dental tooth decay in London – around half of the under fives in the London borough have cavities. With this, among the local adult population there is a higher than average incidence of gum disease and mouth cancers.
After Princess Anne had unveiled a plaque to mark the official opening, she spent more time with staff working there. Dr Philip Taylor, who is Clinical Director for Dentistry at the Queen Mary University of London, said: “It was an absolute pleasure to welcome The Princess Royal. We hope that her visit provided Her Royal Highness with a good insight into the dedication of our teams.”
However, there was no chance of the Princess trying out any of the facilities herself during her visit. There were plenty of smiles from the royal visitor, but that was as close as anyone got to this princess’s pearly-whites.
Photo credit: NHC_UHI via Flickr