Dental patients in Somerset turn to DIY dentistry

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Dental patients in Somerset are turning to DIY dentistry as a result of a lack of NHS appointments.

Healthwatch Somerset reported that patients are facing a choice between travelling out of the region, paying for private care or trying to tackle pain themselves at home because there are no practices accepting new NHS patients.

One woman who contacted the organisation said that she had to ask her husband to pierce an abscess because she could not cope with the pain and was unable to get an emergency dental appointment. Another man said that he had bought a temporary filling from a pharmacy after a large filling fell out of his tooth. He doesn’t have a dentist and could be using temporary measures for months.

Another patient said that he had been removed from a register because he hadn’t been to the practice since the start of the pandemic. He called fourteen dental surgeries to try to get an appointment after developing severe toothache but was told that there were no places available. Only one was able to offer a place for his son. He can only eat on one side of his mouth and the pain is getting worse by the day. He is now thinking of going to see a private dentist but has fears about the financial impact.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation, said that the last few years has created a “perfect storm” with Brexit and the pandemic contributing to dentist shortages and backlogs that are hard to clear because the demand for treatment far outweighs the supply.

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