A man has described having to resort to ripping out bits of one of his teeth with a pair of pliers after struggling to find a dentist.
Carlton Hill, 28, from Gorseinon in Swansea, made the painful decision to carry out his own dental work after spending months trying to get an appointment.
His plight started back at the beginning of the pandemic when he sought emergency help for a chipped molar.
He managed to get some short-term relief but was advised to find a dentist to fix it permanently.
Mr Hill said: ‘This was the most difficult task. I’ve been in contact with numerous dentists around Swansea but none of them are accepting newcomers due to patient size and Covid.
‘Within a couple of months, the crown of that molar shattered completely, leaving just the root behind.’
Still unable to get on the books at any nearby surgeries, he resorted to pulling out bits of the tooth with a pair of pliers.
He said: ‘I had to rip bits of tooth off my gums using pliers, but the nerves died off after that so the pain wasn’t too bad.
‘When I called NHS direct again seeking urgent help, I was told that the pain wasn’t severe enough for a referral to an emergency dentist, because all they could do for me was ease the pain rather than extract the roots.’
Mr Hill added: ‘Since then, I have had multiple abscesses in that area which I have learnt to drain myself.
‘Last week, on the opposite side of my mouth, another molar cracked, this time leaving a sharp jagged edge cutting up my tongue.
‘I called through to NHS direct seeking urgent help to again be told that all the dentist will do is ease the pain not fix the issue and I need to seek a dentist despite being turned away everywhere.
‘I resorted to using a wireless Dremel to shave down the sharp end of my tooth to avoid cutting open my tongue.’
Much like the NHS and court system, the coronavirus pandemic has left dental practices with severe backlogs of patients needing appointments.
Dentists have said that limits on the number they can see each day means they cannot get through the same volumes as before – sending waiting lists through the roof.
Mr Hill said he ‘sees no end’ to his time without professional dental care.
He added: ‘I am so scared now of how much this will cost me to have fixed when it could have been avoided in the first place.
‘I’m a full-time professional in my field, and my speech and mouth health is detrimental to my life yet I can’t get help anywhere to avoid it being destroyed.’
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: ‘We are committed to meeting the needs of NHS dentistry patients in Wales through preventive care and increased access, supported by contract reform.
‘While the pandemic has paused some of this work, we will continue to support practices during the recovery period as focus is placed on increasing access to those most at risk.
‘As Covid-19 is still in circulation, public health measures such as physical distancing, enhanced PPE, and infection control requirements, mean fewer patients can be seen in person and practices have been asked to treat people according to need.
‘We are providing health boards with £3 million in 2021/22 to boost access to NHS dental services, and £2 million recurrently from 2022/23 to support increased provision.’
READ MORE: Woman pulled 11 of her own teeth out when she couldn’t get dentist appointment
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