The Decay of NHS Dentistry.

Tobacco use is directly linked to gum disease and can cause bad breath, stained teeth, receding gum lines, gingivitis, periodontal disease and oral cancer. (U.S. Air Force photo)

I, like many people up and down the country, struggled for years to find a NHS dentist taking on new patients. When I lived under Manchester council it was impossible.

If it wasn’t by pure chance that I overheard a conversation between two girls in work about a surgery taking on new patients I’d still be waiting. It was frustrating to say the least.

When I called my local surgery and inquired about the spaces left I was told I had just made it.

Hurrah!

By the time I had arrived for my appointment the dentist informed me that they were looking to take on around 50 extra patients, over 300 had inquired in a matter of days.

As little as one in five dentists are taking on NHS patients.

Overcrowded, without the resources to take on any more patients you might think?

No! Just simply not taking on any NHS patients. What I found throughout my excruciatingly, frustrating search for a new surgery was they were more than happy to take me on as a private patient.

In fact I’d go as far to say as they were falling over themselves to get me in. Of course this comes with a hefty price tag.

It’s little wonder that gum disease is estimated to affect half of all adults in the UK

dentist

In some areas of the UK as little as one in five dentists are taking on NHS patients. There have been reports of patients being deregistered / struck off books without notice and emerging concerns of dentists providing poorer quality services on the NHS and insisting on private treatments.

I saw this first hand. My first visit to my new surgery consisted of a quick appointment to determine if any work was needed.

I was advised I’d need a scrape and polish and a bit of a deep clean below the tooth line. I was then advised this wold need to be done by the hygienist, who is not covered by the NHS and would cost me a further £40.

So after the relief of finding an NHS dentist and now being able to pay a reasonable price to be seen (£18.50), I now was expected to fork out a further £40 to receive a treatment that the dentist used to do themselves.

Feeling ripped off? Too right I was!

Having never been out of work since I left school and paying into the NHS my whole working life I feel I have the right, as do many, to be a tad disgruntled at my treatment.

What is the point in paying into something that we find so difficult to gain access to?

One in five Britons say they would remove a tooth themselves or ask a friend to do so if they could not afford dental treatment.

There was a disturbing article in the Daily Mirror back in April about Gulf war veteran Ian Boynton, who had resorted to pulling out thirteen of his own teeth with pliers as he simply could not afford private dentistry.

If a dentist can find space for a private patient then why the lack of space when it comes to taking on NHS clients?

Lack of government funding or greedy dental practices looking to maximise profits?

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