Newest Review: ... with the dentist when I was 19, I had to have a back tooth extracted. He was a foreign man and very direct in telling me how horrible my... more
I'm Still Waiting.
Member Name: QueenElf
Advantages: None unless you manage to get to a dentist.
Disadvantages: You could end up without any treatment unless you have money.
I had always gone to the dentists fairly regularly while I was working. I did have some bad experiences with a dentist at the age of twenty-six, but after a six month gap I registered with another one and had all the previous dental work done again. In short I was told that two extractions should have been done under general anaesthetic or not at all. The gaps left by the extractions suggested that the roots were deep and that fillings should have been an option.
I also had six large fillings on my back teeth that my new dentist said was probably unnecessary as well. That was thirty years ago and despite my bad experiences I started to have regular check-ups until I reached the age of forty-five. My general health had become poor then and my job was at risk.
As a civil servant I had a well-paid job with plenty of security, but over the next few years my absences from work was beginning to affect that security, so much so that I stopped going to the dentist and neglected my general health routines. I was so scared of having one day off work that it became an obsession.
I eventually left work when I was just 49 years old. I wasn't pensioned off or had any large redundancy or sickness payment. The works doctor couldn't find anything that he could say I could retire on. I had several health conditions that made it hard to keep working, but nothing serious. So I left work and went on Incapacity benefits.
Two years later, worn out and losing my hair, I was eventually diagnosed with several serious conditions, including an under active Thyroid problem. At the same time I noticed that my teeth were beginning to ache, but put it down to sensitive teeth. In hindsight I should have done something then. I had already received a letter from my normal NHS dentist, saying that they were now only accepting private patients, but I was too caught up in my own problems and the death of my mother to think about anything else.
Six months after my mother died I was really suffering from delayed grief and also from not having my health conditions monitored on a regular basis. A check-up with my doctor resulted in a higher dose of tablets and six-month monitoring.
During this time I noticed that my teeth were even more sensitive, so started using special toothpaste. I am ashamed to admit that I lost five fillings and started to suffer from painful gums before I eventually sought help early in this year.
In the back of my mind I knew that many things had changed and that NHS dentists were declining. But I couldn't imagine that they had become almost non-existent. My local chemist gave me the Emergency dental help line, but it was totally useless. In the city where I live there is only one dentist that will treat patients with emergency problems. Not only that, but you have to phone the number at 9am precisely to get an appointment and this is only valid on three days of the week. I had an abscess that had got so bad that it was affecting the nerves in my face. The pain even got into my ears and made my eyes water. I looked like I had gone ten rounds with a boxer. Each morning I rang and finally got through at 9.15am on the last day, Thursday. I was told that all appointments were booked for that week and I would have to wait until the following Tuesday to try again. I asked what I could do, but the reply was chilling. 'You have to phone at 9am, first come, first served,' was the heartless answer.
I couldn't believe this, surely there was some provision for people like me who were in agony? I tried another number and got put through to the same woman I had just spoken to.
Again she just repeated those words, "first come, first served."
I asked about booking an appointment but the emergency dentist doesn't work that way.
In desperation I phoned my own doctor who told me to get into the surgery as fast as possible. In fairness to my doctor I have to say that this was unprecedented. My surgery does have several doctors, but doctor's are not dentists.
In spite of that he looked at my face first and then gently tried to open my swollen mouth. He said it was either gum disease or an abscess, my mouth was so swollen it was hard to tell. He prescribed me two sachets of a very strong antibiotic and a course of equally strong painkillers. He also asked if I had now registered with a NHS dentist, but what could I say? I had asked for details of local NHS dentists to be sent to me, but I didn't get the list until ten days later.
It was five days before the antibiotics started to work and the prescribed painkillers upset my stomach so much that I was afraid to eat. My mouth eventually stopped swelling, but I still had some problems with puffiness around the general area. In the meantime I kept nagging the local health council to send me out a list of NHS dentists. I also had the added problem that I needed one who would accept patients with full exemption from any charges. That narrowed the four dentists down to only one and I still have to pay £15 to go onto their waiting list. I don't understand the point of exemption from all charges if I have to pay to register, but being in pain I accepted it.
Now I am on a three-month waiting list to be seen at all. I have no provision for Emergency treatment. There is no dental hospital where I live and the nearest one is twelve miles away. I live alone and I cannot afford the train and bus journey, let alone face that prospect when I rarely leave the house at all.
In the meantime I am forced to buy very expensive toothpaste to keep my teeth and my gums clean. I cannot have another course of antibiotics for a while as they are very strong and strip the body of its natural defences.
My doctor is angry about the whole situation. Doctors do not have to treat people like me, but he told me that he treats about three patients per day alone for gum disease and abscesses. I cannot describe the awful pain, the agony of not being able to eat and the sleepless nights.
This situation has been brought about by the lack of NHS dentists and the government's failure to do anything about the situation. Dentists have a stranglehold over the system and rake in big money from private clients. Why should they bother with NHS patients when they can become rich on other patients?
My elder sister is a retired headmistress and she joined a private health plan about two years ago. Before that she had to have a complete check-up and any treatment done by another dentist before they would accept her on their plan. It cost her about £300. Now she pays £20 a month. This covers any treatment.
But how many people can afford that amount of money? I exist on very low benefits, some Incapacity and a small amount of Disability payments. I am way below the poverty threshold, yet I worked for thirty-three years of my life from the age of sixteen.
Generally my overall health is better now. I have frequent check-ups and my doctors are aware that my various health conditions need close monitoring.
But they have no say about my dental health and if the present situation continues then I might lose some of my teeth.
This is totally unacceptable. There must be many more people like me who can't afford to pay for treatment. It is time that the NHS made more provision to Dentists to get them to treat patients on the breadline. Otherwise what is the point of the NHS at all?
Nobody is proof against these draconian measures. You could become sick tomorrow and then find out that you are on the bottom on the list for any help at all.
It's about time that we all complained. Not just people like me, but people that pay hundreds of pounds for dental treatment. If everyone refused to pay that price then maybe the government might finally put more money into the NHS for ALL it's needs.
Summary: The NHS has let us down in every department of health provision.
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