Millions of people have been pulling their own teeth out and attempting to treat their cavities at home since lockdown started.
A new poll by the Association of Dental Groups reveals the shocking full extent of ‘DIY dentistry’ that has been undertaken across the UK this year. It is part of a major campaign that the ADG has launched calling on ministers to take action to deal with a worsening crisis in access to UK dentistry.
Pollsters found that a staggering 25% of households across the UK have attempted at least one form of DIY dentistry – including taking painkillers.
Within the 25% figure, the polling suggests that:
– Someone has taken painkillers for tooth or gum pain in 12.7% of households / 3.5m homes
– Someone has attempted to treat a cavity in a tooth 7.9% of households / 2.2m homes
– Someone has attempted to extract a tooth in 7.6% of households / 2.1m homes
Many surgeries reopened last month after being shut during lockdown, but strict rules mean they can only deal with just a few patients a day.
The poll findings will add to dentists’ mounting concerns about the scale of the problems they will encounter when routine appointments start again. The problems look set to be compounded by falling numbers of NHS dentists in many parts of the UK. The UK already has the lowest numbers of dentists per capita among comparable Western countries.
ADG chair Neil Carmichael said: “Pulling your own teeth out is rarely a good idea as it can damage the surrounding teeth and lead to long-term problems. These findings suggest that when routine appointments restart, dentists across the country should brace themselves for an oral health horror show.
“All of the signs are that dentists will be called upon to repair the damage caused by broken and knocked out teeth – on top of a host of other oral health problems that lockdown has been storing up.
“This would be bad enough if we did not already have an access crisis in dentistry with many people struggling to get appointments. Ministers must now take urgent action to ensure that the we have the NHS dentists we need to deal with what’s around the corner.”