The dire state of NHS dentistry is a crisis that only seems to get worse.
Brits have complained about having to wait years for an appointment, ripping out their teeth with pliers and traveling abroad after discovering it was impossible to get one. National Health Service appointment.
A former miner has lived on painkillers and soup because he spent seven months trying unsuccessfully to get an NHS appointment to fix his broken crowns.
Another even went to war-torn places. Ukraine because it was half the price of paying privately.
The crisis was perfectly illustrated by photographs of hundreds of desperate Britons, including the disabled and elderly, queuing outside a newly opened surgery in Bristol this week. The serpentine lines were described as “reminiscent of Soviet-era Eastern Europe.”
Today the Government finally unveiled its long-awaited NHS dental recovery plandescribed as “putting NHS dentistry on a sustainable footing”.
Low Rishi SunakIn the bold plan to solve the appointment crisis affecting millions of people, dentists will be offered up to £50 to see patients who have not had a check-up in the last two years. Up to 240 dentists wishing to relocate to “dental deserts” will also receive a £20,000 “golden hello”.
Barbara Cook, a mother-of-two and health food store worker from St Pauls in Bristol, has not seen a dentist for five years. This week, she finally got an appointment for April after waiting in line at the newly opened Saint Pauls dental office, along with hundreds of others.
But the plan, presented 10 months after his promise, was criticized by dental chiefs and politicians for not going far enough, and one of them said it was about “rearranging the sun loungers.”
NHS dentistry has been in crisis for years, with leaders claiming the sector is chronically underfunded, making it financially unviable to carry out treatments.
Compounding the problem is that, as more dentists leave the NHS, those who remain are becoming overwhelmed by more and more patients.
Here, MailOnline shares the stories of those caught up in the worsening dental crisis…
The NHS urges children to visit the dentist at least once a year, while adults can wait up to two years between visits if they have good oral health.
But Barbara Cook, a mother-of-two and health food store worker from St Pauls in Bristol, revealed yesterday that she had not seen a dentist in five years.
She was one of hundreds who lined up outside the newly opened Saint Pauls dental practice hoping to secure a place on its books.
Among the crowd that gathered since Monday were elderly and disabled people.
She told MailOnline: ‘I registered here today and have an exam booked for April.
Another woman stuck in the queue with her grandson yesterday said the six-year-old “has never been able to see an NHS dentist”.
And on Monday, a woman, named Maria, said BristolLive She had been there since 8:30 in the hope of getting a place, while her neighbor, a disabled cancer patient, “I had no choice” but to face the cold line.
Last March, Richard Howe, from Ely, Cambridgeshire, revealed he had traveled to war-torn Ukraine to see a dentist after being unable to access healthcare in the UK.
Howe developed an abscess under one of his teeth in February, but his local NHS dentist told him there was “no chance” of getting an appointment on the NHS and he would have to be seen privately.
Richard Howe, from Ely, Cambridgeshire, traveled to war-torn Ukraine to have a dentist treat an abscess that had developed under one of his teeth.
Mr Howe was told by his local dentist there was “no chance” of getting an NHS appointment. The cheapest price he was quoted for private care in the UK was £950, while he paid just £220 for travel, a check-up and dental treatment in kyiv.
After considering this option, the cheapest quote she got was £875, plus an emergency fee of £75.
As a last resort, the father of three decided to travel to kyiv, where he had lived with his family for 12 years before the war, to carry out work in his old practice.
They told him they could see him right away, so he flew to Poland and took a 13-hour train ride across the border to kyiv.
Within a week, the abscess had been drained. He also underwent a routine checkup, which required him to do additional work, including three root canals.
Since he still owns a house in the capital, his accommodation was free. Travel costs amounted to £181, while the dental work itself cost £220, less than half the cost of treatment in the UK.
Three-year-old Sid Hall will have to wait a year for treatment, even though his crumbling black teeth cause him so much pain he cannot eat.
Sid, from Scarborough, North Yorkshire, has hypomineralisation (a condition affecting the enamel) and needs four teeth extracted.
But due to his age, this must be done under general anesthesia in hospital and by a team of specialists, who are busy fighting delays caused by the appointment crisis.
Sid, from Scarborough, North Yorkshire, will have waited a year to have four teeth extracted in hospital under general anaesthetic.
The three-year-old has hypomineralization (a condition that affects the enamel) which has left his teeth black and crumbling and prevents him from eating.
The condition likely developed during his mother Claire’s pregnancy or during Sid’s childhood. It has nothing to do with poor brushing.
Mrs. Hall said Mirror: ‘All I can do is give him Calpol and Bonjela. Last week he was just saying ‘oh, oh, oh, not eating.’
‘I can’t believe we are in this position in a developed country. The system is simply not fit for purpose.”
Sid, whose language development was also affected, was referred to a specialist by his NHS dentist last June.
However, her parents were told that an initial assessment would take 12 months due to “high demand.”
In a post shared on TikTok, Natalie Bailey revealed that she has been waiting for almost five years on an NHS waiting list, after failing to get an appointment with any dentist in her local area.
“My wisdom tooth is impacted, becoming more crooked, my gum is swollen and I can’t eat,” he said.
Ms Bailey said she has been forced to rely on soft foods, while codeine, a pain-relieving medication, “doesn’t even touch the pain”.
She was told private treatment would cost more than £500, an amount she cannot afford.
Natalie Bailey has been waiting for almost five years to receive treatment for her wisdom tooth and swollen gum on the NHS, after failing to get an appointment with any dentists in her local area and private clinics quoting her an unaffordable £500.
David Creamer, a former miner from Blackpool, got an appointment with an NHS dentist this week after a seven-month wait. The 62-year-old, from Rotherham, had been “living on painkillers and soup” after four crown teeth broke in his upper jaw while he was biting into a sandwich in June last year.
‘Do you think I only have £500 when we live in a cost of living crisis? And I can’t even survive every month,” she said in the video.
Responding to the TikTok, one user said: “I just got mine out, I’ve been waiting three years.”
Meanwhile, another wrote: “I’m in the exact same position, it sucks.”
This week, former miner David Creamer from Blackpool finally got an appointment with an NHS dentist after a seven-month wait.
The 62-year-old, from Rotherham, claimed to have been living on painkillers and soup after four crown teeth broke in his upper jaw while biting into a sandwich in June last year.
He had been quoted £5,400 for private dental treatment but could not afford it.
He said The Blackpool Gazette: ‘Everything came out of nowhere. The call came from a dentist in Rotherham called Ivy Cottage Dental Care. I still don’t know how they got me.
‘They said, “We’ve been told to offer you an appointment.” I scheduled the evaluation for next Thursday.
“For months I have been dying, but suddenly they accepted me.”