Patient pulls his own teeth with pliers as the true horror of the NHS dental crisis is revealed


Since the last Covid lockdown, there has been an exodus of around 3,000 dentists, many who say they are running some NHS treatments at a loss due to a perverse payment structure

Patients resort to desperate measures

Desperate patients resort to awful DIY dentistry as they find it impossible to get NHS treatment.

Jamie Ellison, 49, who has not been able to register with an NHS dentist for 15 years, used forceps to take his own tooth out. He said: “I wouldn’t recommend it. It was a desperate thing.”

Mr Ellison, from Huddersfield, West Yorks, said: “I haven’t seen a dentist in about 15 years. Lord knows I tried.”

Nicola, a part-time nurse in Sussex, said she couldn’t find an NHS dentist to fix a broken tooth.

She told i Paper, “I had to resort to buying needle nose pliers to try and extract the tooth.”

She made it worse and ended up going to a private dentist which cost £650 which she is still paying off.

Hannah Whelan from Manchester, who works in the NHS, said she couldn’t afford a root canal extraction.

She said: “I used to super tape the infected molars and take paracetamol. I finally managed to have an extraction done after passing out from pain at work.”

Lack of access to NHS dentists was a major problem in the by-elections



There has been an exodus of around 3,000 dentists since the last Covid lockdown. Many say a perverse payment structure means they are doing some NHS treatments at a loss, getting the same payment for having a filling done as for a patient who needs three or four.

Data released under freedom of information laws shows 2.3 million NHS dental appointments in England in April, up from 2.9 million in March and down from a pre-pandemic average of 3.5 million.

Lack of access to NHS dentists was a major problem in the Tiverton and Honiton by-elections where the Lib Dems beat the Tories.

In the parish of Mid Devon, which covers Tiverton, there were 2,500 NHS dentist appointments in April, down from 4,600 before the pandemic.

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Data suggests more dentists are withdrawing from the NHS


(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

In Wakefield, where Labor defeated the Tories, monthly appointments have fallen from 25,000 to 16,000.

April marked the start of the new financial year as dentists decide how many NHS appointments they can commit to. The data suggests more are withdrawing from the NHS.

Eddie Crouch, chief of the British Dental Association, said: “Every vacancy leaves thousands of patients without access to healthcare.

“Ministers have failed to understand that without NHS dentists we cannot have NHS dentistry.”

The BDA says direct annual government funding for dentistry has now fallen by £880m from 2010 levels, while the Tories have repeatedly increased patient charges via inflation. Neil Carmichael of the Association of Dental Groups told the i Paper: “It’s awful that people feel compelled to do DIY dentistry and pull their teeth out with pliers. This is not how we should do things in modern Britain.”

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Eddie Crouch added: “The barriers faced by millions of people in pain are being put up in Westminster. Until the government ends a decade of underfunding and failed contracts, we won’t see any progress.

“The Tiverton by-election underscores the real political cost of failing to resolve the crisis in NHS dentistry.

“It’s easy to understand why the inability to access essential health services reverberates on the doorstep.”

BDA surveys show 45% of dentists have reduced their NHS patient engagement by over a quarter on average since the pandemic.

Last month’s survey of 2,200 dentists found 75% would likely reduce or further reduce their NHS work over the next 12 months.

About 45% say they’re likely to remain completely private.

A Government spokeswoman said: “We are working closely with the NHS to reform the dental system – including negotiating contract improvements.”

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