A little bit about me
Ellie Phillips, DDS, has 35 years of dental experience, with a special
interest in caring for geriatric patients and special needs children
and adults. She particularly enjoys working with the phobic to overcome
their fears of dentistry.
Ellie is a member of the American Dental
Association, the New York State Dental Association and the American
Academy of Pediatric Dentists. A graduate of Eastman Dental Center,
Rochester, NY, with qualifications in pediatric and general dentistry,
and an honorary member of the Eastman Academy, University of London,
England. She was recently the pediatric outpatient clinic director
at the Eastman Dental Center and a faculty member at the University
of Rochester. She is also the author of Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye.
For 35 years Ellie has been teaching that tooth decay and gum
infections are preventable diseases. Today she offers personalized
and corporate coaching to help clients achieve ultimate oral health.
My Passion & My Mission
What horror happened at a children’s clinic in England that forever
changed my life?
...and these problems still exist for kids in the United States
For millions of people, going to the dentist is a major source
of stress and anxiety. Given the history of dentistry, and the fact
that most people feel they have no control over dental problems,
their fears are hardly a surprise. When I was growing up in England,
it was not unusual to hear parents threaten to take a misbehaving
child to the dentist as punishment. Those who have had negative
dental experiences as children are often patients who experience
the worst anxiety as adults. Ironically, in my case, the name of
our school dentist was Dr. Dagger!
Dental health for children was never a priority in England when
I was growing up, and tooth extraction was considered a quick and
easy solution for most dental problems. Things were actually so
bad that dentures were given to some young people as wedding gifts,
the idea being that extractions at an early age could ward off a
lifetime of pain, problems, and expense.
My first job in England was as a community dentist in a school
clinic in the early 1970s. The clinic was a large room with one
dental chair in the center. After greeting the office staff on my
first day, I opened the door to welcome my first patient. A thirty-foot
bench extended from the doorway to the end of the hall, and it was
filled with at least twenty small children waiting to have their
teeth extracted. Strained little faces looked at me with round,
moist eyes. Mothers resigned to the inevitable sat beside their
children with an air of compassionate authority.
That was the era when adults believed that children should be
seen and not heard. Children were expected to sit quietly and handle
whatever came their way. They were expected to undergo drillings
or tooth extraction without complaining or crying—and, often, without
an anesthetic. When the treatment was over, they were required to
politely shake hands and thank the doctor and the office staff.
One by one the children silently came over to me. I was expected
to extract their teeth according to the treatment plan I had been
given. My head was spinning. I didn’t know whether to carry out
the dreadful treatment or to send them away. I did what I was expected
to do, but I vowed from that day forward that by whatever means
I could, I would help children everywhere enjoy healthy teeth and
avoid cavities, fillings, and unnecessary extractions.