Fillers and fillings all in a day’s work for Lisa

Lisa Creaven: 'For cosmetic work we’re one of the most expensive around but who else is going to give a 15-year guarantee?' PHOTOS: JOE O'SHAUGHNESSY.
Lisa Creaven: 'For cosmetic work we’re one of the most expensive around but who else is going to give a 15-year guarantee?' PHOTOS: JOE O'SHAUGHNESSY.

City Lives – Denise McNamara meets dentist Lisa Creaven who also offers cosmetic treatments

While one in ten of us are said to suffer from odontophobia – a genuine phobia about dentists – an astonishing 75% of adults experience some degree of dental fear, from mild to severe. Visiting the dentist is just one of those experiences we put off or avoid altogether unless we are dying of a tooth ache.

Lisa Creaven has spent the past four years trying to change all that with what is probably the most unusual dental practice in the west of Ireland.

Her clinic in Woodquay has morphed into a one-stop shop to make people feel beautiful all over.

Not alone can you get your teeth cleaned, filled and capped, you can get invisible braces, have your smile altered and even have your wrinkles disappear with Botox.

And for the odontophobics out there, she also offers the chance to have it done under sedation while the client still awake.

The native of Corrandulla who went to secondary school in Taylors Hill always knew she wanted to either study medicine or dentistry. With the points to do both, she chose the five-year course in Trinity.

“I loved doing things with my hands. I loved to play a lot of music and being hands-on. I loved the fact that you can control your career with dentistry. I saw a lot of people in medicine and they’d be moved every six months or were pushed into one area. A dentist can be their own boss.”

Amazingly, her three siblings have followed in her footsteps and become dentists – even her engineer brother Paul decided to go back to college and change careers. They did not come from a dental background; her dad Jim is a farmer who also worked in the IT company Hewlett Packard while her mum is a special needs assistant.

After graduating from Trinity, Lisa went to work for dentist Terence McAlinden in Tuam, where she discovered a myriad of characters and personalities.

“I discovered people management is the difficult part because people are so individual. I remember this guy in Tuam was so standoffish, he wouldn’t look you in the eye. He worked in a hardware shop and I was in there buying a shower and he was just the nicest guy. The problem, I discovered, was he was just so nervous.”

Nerves and dental patients go hand in hand. Lisa has one man who immediately faints every time he gets the whiff of the clinic. Lisa decided to travel to London to study sedation and she had qualified in that by the time she took over the practice of Gerry Forde on his retirement from Woodquay four years ago.

“I knew there was a need for a dedicated sedation clinic. It means that patients can get all their treatment in one go. I have also sedated somebody for one filling – they couldn’t go through with it and didn’t want to lose their tooth.

“You’re fully awake, it’s like you go into a twilight zone. It’s an IV sedation, we use a strong sedative related to valium and it takes away all your anxiety.”

Lisa also travelled to London to study implants, which involves putting titanium screws into the gum bone to build a really natural-looking tooth.

The 29-year-old has become the face of the clear braces system Invisalign, fronting their TV advertising campaign. The device is created from a 3D scan of your mouth and will be changed every two weeks at home and the brace must be worn 22 hours a day. The patient comes in to be reviewed every couple of months. It costs from €3,500.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.