As children’s molars rot and adults resort to DIY dentistry, let’s look at what went wrong with the nation’s teeth

Children’s lives are ruined by the ordeal of having rotten teeth, leaving some even in need of dentures.

Meanwhile, there are adults who resort to bringing out their own gnash due to “dental deserts,” which means they can’t get appointments.


Some children will be left to suffer due to gaps in the NHS dental servicesCredit: Getty
Billy Taylor used pliers to extract a tooth, guarded by his son Leo


Billy Taylor used pliers to extract a tooth, guarded by his son LeoCredit: SWNS
Stuart Woodmansey, his wife Kedma and son Jacob had to seek dental services abroad


Stuart Woodmansey, his wife Kedma and son Jacob had to seek dental services abroadCredit: Roland Leon

The state of dental care in the UK has reached a crisis point.

Danielle Watt, 42, of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, took matters into her own hands when gum disease forced her to rip 11 of her rotten teeth out of their sockets.

She had spent six years trying and failed to put herself and her two children, Oscar, 12, and Eliza, eight, on a NHS dentist’s list.

Danielle said: “I would be in agony as they became more and more shaky, until death. Then I would be able to squeeze them.

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“I’ve been trying so hard to find a NHS dentist, but there’s nobody out there.”

Covid only made matters worse, as Billy Taylor, 33, of Axminster, Devon, found. Earlier this month he grabbed some tongs – and a few shots of whiskey – when his toothache got “excruciating”.

Her 11-year-old son Leo had to watch to make sure he didn’t pass out.

He said: “I had a toothache until the bank holiday weekend. She was getting worse and worse. The pain was excruciating.

“Then on Tuesday, my face was swelling and I had a migraine on that side. That night went really bad and I thought, ‘Why don’t I do it myself?’ “.

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on dental hygiene.

‘Shameful inequalities’

In addition to putting people at risk for rotten teeth, the diseases go undiagnosed.

Diabetes, cancer, eating disorders, heart disease, and high blood pressure can be detected first in the mouth.

James Goolnik, of the Bow Lane Dental Group in London, said: “As a dentist, I don’t just look for signs of tooth decay and gum disease.

“I’m looking for abnormalities and early signs of disease in the neck, muscles and glands of the neck.”

About 2,000 dentists are estimated to have resigned in 2021, leaving about four million people without access to NHS care. Children, in particular, are suffering.

Dr. Mervyn Druian, a former NHS dentist who now practices privately, told the Telegraph that NHS children’s dentistry is “a scandal that has been ignored.”

He added: “In 35 years I have never known it so badly. Young people will grow up without teeth and wear a prosthesis to replace them.

“It is tragic for a First World country to provide a dental service that would embarrass a Third World one.”

4 million people do not have access to a NHS dentist.

Dentaid, a charity that treats patients in developing countries, has already been called by Trinity Academy Grammar School in Halifax, West York, to treat pupils whose dental hygiene is poor.

Principal Charlie Johnson said, “We had to take the students to the hospital because their tooth decay was so bad.”

The lack of NHS appointments led a family to fly 6,000 miles to Brazil to get their teeth treated.

Stuart Woodmansey, of Market Weighton, East Yorks, told The Sun he couldn’t get a date “for years” and that his Brazilian-born wife Kedma and their son Jacob, two, were unable to register with a local dentist from the NHS. Taking a flight to Sao Paulo was their only option.

They are just a family at the mercy of the “dental deserts”, areas where many offices have closed or ceased to treat NHS patients that if people cannot pay privately, they cannot access treatment.

In England, 78.8% of NHS dentists do not accept new patients, while 86.3% do not hire new adult patients.

In Scotland, patients face agonizing waiting times, some up to 12 months for an appointment.

The British Dental Association has warned that “80% of Scottish dentists intend to reduce their commitment to the NHS”.

In April, Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labor Covid spokesperson for recovery and health, said the crisis “overwhelming” NHS dentistry in Scotland has led to a “two-tier system, with those unable to afford private care that is left behind “.

For many, we have neglected our teeth in the past couple of years. The New One Poll research, commissioned by Colgate, found that a third of us gave up on oral health during the block and 36% said they often forget to brush their teeth.

Dentist Dr. Hanna Kinsella says the pandemic has led to a huge drop in oral health and added, “Everyone’s routine has been thrown into chaos. The toothbrush is part of your daily routine.

“You wake up, get ready for work or school and brush your teeth.

“But suddenly a lot of people woke up at different times or lied. They didn’t get dressed or leave the house.

“As a result, dentists have encountered so many problems, particularly inflamed and bleeding gums, that they can be a warning sign of gum disease.”

Working as a community nurse during the pandemic, Laura Mills was so exhausted when she came home that she went straight to bed without washing.

The 35-year-old from Sheffield says personal care has gotten worse and when she finally saw a dentist, she suffered a lot.

He said: “Sometimes, during the lockdown, I brushed my teeth only once a week or every ten days.

“It might as well have been every two weeks, which is embarrassing to admit.

“I worked long days, as well as overtime on free days.”

Before the pandemic, Laura had always taken care of her teeth.

She said: “I have had half-yearly checkups, washed every day, and haven’t eaten too sugary foods.

“But when Covid came, I let myself go. I ate junk, lots of sweets and sugary drinks.

“My diet was awful. I got fat and everything started to dent my teeth.”

“I needed seven fillings”

Laura started suffering from toothache in January 2021, but she was so busy that she postponed her visit to the dentist.

She finally made an appointment in November, when her mouth was so sore she was having a hard time eating.

He said: “It was so bad that I didn’t like to eat or drink. I needed seven fillings and one extraction because my teeth were in such a state. “

It cost Laura around £ 200 to get her teeth repaired on the NHS and she now uses a special toothpaste to help fight tooth decay.

“No matter how busy you are, you have to brush your teeth. I found out the hard way. ”

Claire Morton let her oral hygiene slip during the lockout and when she finally saw a dentist in June 2021, X-rays revealed she needed seven fillings.

The 45-year-old from Liverpool said the change in routine meant she often forgot to brush her teeth.

She was also busy home schooling her children, Josh, 13, and Daniela, 11.

The health instructor and meditation teacher, who also has stepdaughter Elle, 23, said: “Before Covid, I brushed my teeth three times a day.

“But then, all of a sudden, we weren’t going anywhere or seeing anyone. During the day, I was home schooling the children and trying to run my business online.

“I was brushing my teeth a lot less than usual.”

During the first block, a large filling fell out while Claire was eating a cake and she couldn’t fix it because the dentists were closed.

She said: “This made me aware of what the children were eating, but I didn’t worry about myself.

“I made sure they kept brushing and didn’t eat too much sugar.

“But there I was drinking sugar-filled wine, eating cookies and adding sugar to my tea.”

Earlier last year, Claire’s mouth started to ache and she noticed that her teeth were turning yellow.

She said, “My mouth was sore from tooth decay, but it was still quite difficult to get an appointment as many dentists had a backlog.”

All dental practices were closed for three months in March 2020 and only emergency appointments were available.

Millions of patients have not had a checkup since before the pandemic, and some now face a three-year wait.

The Great British Oral Health Report, released in January, found that 53% of us have not seen a dentist in the past year and one in five have tried to heal at home, some using do-it-yourself extractions.

Danielle Watt took matters into her own hands with the draws


Danielle Watt took matters into her own hands with the drawsCredit: East Anglia News Service
Laura Mills is too exhausted to brush her teeth


Laura Mills is too exhausted to brush her teethCredit: LAURA MILLS

Dr. Kinsella said there was “enormous” pressure on the NHS and it was difficult for people to show themselves. Some, like Claire, have been forced to go private.

She paid around £ 1,000 for her fillings and said ‘I finally feel like I can smile without worrying about everyone looking at my horrible teeth.’

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