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Britain sees a dangerous rise in ‘DIY dentistry’

Posted by Allie Wright

Many people in the UK have opted for ‘DIY dentistry’ amid harsh financial times.

This alarming research from Which? magazine indicates that one in four adults had tried to extract a tooth using pliers. Of the 2,631 people surveyed, eight per cent had resorted to these drastic measures as a result of escalating fees and limited practice places.

Dr Barry Cockcroft, chief dental officer for England, calls the homemade approach “dangerous and unnecessary”.

“Thanks to our investment of over £2 billion in NHS dentistry, there are now lots of new NHS dental practices expanding and opening around the country,” he added.

However, with basic fees perceived as expensive, many are borrowing money to pay for dentist bills. In a SimplyHealth survey of 5,000 people, six per cent of people are loaning money from family or friends, with 52 per cent worried about being able to afford their future dental care.

These concerns explain the sharp rise in DIY measures.

Reported popular quick-fixes included: sticking down fillings with superglue or chewing gum, teeth-whitening with household products, and trying to amend dentures by hand.

Which? health campaigner Jenny Driscoll expressed her concern for “desperate” Britons, stating: “Everyone should have access to good quality dental treatment.” The research also provoked a strong political reaction from shadow health minister Michael Penning who labelled the results “a scandal”.

Dentists are urged to provide relevant up to date information in their dental welcome pack, including advice on oral hygiene as well as opening hours and current price lists. This will help to dispel patient confusion and allow NHS users to see the benefits of visiting a professional.

With recent reform plans paving the way for a more patient-focused era in dentistry, professionals need to spread a positive message to patients. This is a bid to promote a long-term attitude to dental hygiene.

Dr Cockcroft reports that 1.2 million more people are visiting NHS dentists now than in 2010, indicating progression and support for the healthcare system.

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