Woman pulled 11 of her own teeth as she couldn’t get a dentist appointment
A woman unable to get a dentist appointment decided to take matters into her own hands by pulling out 11 teeth herself.
Danielle Watts, of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, says her former practice never referred her and her children elsewhere after shutting down six years ago.
Although there were no major problems to begin with, she has experienced serious tooth problems for the past two and a half years.
They made simple things like unbearable eating without painkillers and took away the confidence to smile.
Speaking to BBC Look East, she said: ‘I just had nowhere to turn. Everywhere I tried I said they weren’t taking NHS patients but offered to take care of us in private.
“I wouldn’t know where to get the funds or where to start in private.”
Much like the NHS and the justice system, the coronavirus pandemic has left dental offices with a large backlog of patients needing appointments.
Dentists say the limits on the number they can see each day mean they can’t walk the same volumes as before.
And this has forced many people to turn to the private sector to pay salaries and meet the costs of equipment.
Dr Meetal Patel, owner of Aylsham dental practice in Norfolk, told the BBC: “In terms of NHS dentistry, trying to keep the same standard is very, very difficult.”
He added; “At the moment, I don’t really see how a business can survive by simply doing work in the NHS.”
The difficulty, said Dr Patel, “is with the virus and the way we have to work, we can’t do the volumes that we used to do.”
He said: “The problem was serious enough before Covid and it has become much worse since Covid. It is not going away, it is intensifying.
Tracey Bambridge, dental nurse and receptionist at Aylsham’s practice, added: ‘People are really angry they ask why we can’t see them on the NHS.
“It’s not that we don’t want to see them, it’s just the physical number of people we can see in a day and we just can’t see the volume of patients we could before.”
Dr Dipali Chokshi, dentist at March dental practice in Cambridgeshire, said waiting lists at NHS practices “had exploded”.
He said the backlog of routine appointments in his practice was “about a year” before the pandemic and has now grown to “two to three years.”
Dr Chokshi said emergency room patients waited “two or three months” to be seen, adding: “If you are in pain, it is intolerable.”
Responding to reports of arrears in August, NHS England chief dentist Sara Hurley said: “It is inevitable that the upheaval caused by Covid has disrupted some people’s dental care, but dentists have prioritized treating patients in urgent need, in part by rapidly establishing 600 urgent dental centers – with millions still treated during the pandemic.
“The NHS has leveraged additional resources to fight Covid and recover all services – NHS dental teams working hard to see patients as quickly and safely as possible and the provision of emergency care is at pre-pandemic levels since December. “
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