People are resorting to “Victorian era” methods of DIY tooth extraction and home dentistry while surgeries remain closed during the coronavirus crisis, the UK’s leading dental body has said.
Routine dental appointments were cancelled in March to reduce the spread of coronavirus, which resulted in the closure of practices overnight as the UK went into lockdown.
At present, patients in need of urgent care can be referred for treatment at emergency NHS hubs set up during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, there are strict criteria for what constitutes an “emergency” appointment, leaving many unable to access services while suffering from “acute” pain.
As a result, the British Dental Association (BDA) says the closure of dental practices is leading to a small but steady increase in “desperate” people resorting to painful methods of extraction from home.
BDA chief Mick Armstrong told The Times: “Patients in pain have few options. An urgent care system has been plagued by teething problems, while desperate people resort to DIY extractions that belonged in the Victorian era.
“We still don’t know when practices can reopen, or how many patients we will be capable of treating.
“A service that tens of millions depend on is in need of government help if it’s going to survive this pandemic and the ‘new normal’.”
Dental surgeries are offering telephone consultations but patient services are limited to ordering antibiotics, pain medication and general advice.
According to the newspaper, one man decided to take out his own tooth with the help of his son after being told by NHS 111 that he could not have an emergency appointment.
In another report from the BBC, one woman recalled how she tried to remove a tooth with a set of pliers after suffering from “immense pain”.
Fay Rayward from Telford, Shropshire, told how her tooth “actually split in half and that’s when the pain really started to take hold”.
"The pain for me was worse than childbirth. I have never experienced pain like it, it was searing through the side of my face. It was just awful," she continued.