A survey in Britain showed people are being forced to seek private dental care – or are even treating themselves – because of failures in the UK’s public National Health Service. Six per cent of patients polled said they took matters into their own hands, like Valerie Halsworth, who removed several of her own teeth.
She said: “It was painful and I was really desperate, and that’s the only way I could get out of the pain because the painkillers had stopped working. Painkillers only last for so long. And when the pain gets too bad, you’ve got to do something. I couldn’t get a dentist, so I did it myself.”
The results of the research, which was organised by an independent commission backed by the government, forced the Health Minister Ben Bradshaw to admit some failures.
“We entirely accept that there are still problems in some parts of the country for some people in getting to see an NHS dentist.
But there’s absolutely no reason why somebody should be pulling their own teeth out. People now have a right to demand urgent dental care from their local health service,” he said.
The BDA, which represents UK dentists, blames a new contract between the government and its members. It offers practitioners a guaranteed income, rather than a fee for each NHS treatment they perform.