62-year-old man who waited 18 months to see dentist got so fed up that he yanked his own tooth out
Going to the dentist isn't always at the top of people's lists as far as maintaining their health, but there are times where even those who keep their distance will need to have something done.
David Woodhouse, a 62-year-old man from Truro, England, was one such man - but he claims that he found it impossible to get to an NHS surgery in Cornwall. Their emergency treatment centre offered to extract his tooth, which was giving him problems, but he said that this wouldn't deal with the long-term problem he had with a dental plate.
Three weeks later, he decided to remove the tooth himself - with a pair of pliers.
"I had a loose one and it was causing me a little bit of pain, so I got the needle-nose pliers and out it came," he told the BBC. "I could have had the tooth extracted but what I need is a term of treatment from the dentist."
Healthwatch Cornwall have said that access to NHS dentists was a huge issue in the county, while The British Dental Association said that dental care on the Nation Health Service was "increasingly a postcode lottery". According to the BDA, it has taken some people up to three years to register, and you're not always guaranteed to be kept on the list for that long.
Woodhouse went for check-ups on a regular basis, but after he returned from a period of time working out of the country, he realised he had lost his place - and failed to get back on.
"The removal itself was considerably less painful than the long-term pain I was experiencing," he said. "I'm not looking forward to the next tooth coming loose, I may have to consider a bank loan to go private, but why should I?"
According to the NHS, there is just one practice in Cornwall that is accepting new patients at all, while over 48,000 people are on the waiting list in Devon and Cornwall.
"It's like looking for gold dust. When you go on the waiting list you have to specify three towns, but I would go anywhere within 100 miles of Truro," Mr. Woodhouse said. "I would go anywhere within half a day's drive - I do not care."
The cost of a tooth extraction with a dentist when you're registered to the NHS is approximately £59.10, but when you move to go private, the cost can go up to around £370 - a price some, like Woodhouse, are unwilling to pay. Despite the fact that Woodhouse and others have found it so difficult to find a place to register, Devon and Cornwall actually has a registration rate slightly above average for the rest of the country, suggesting this is likely a nationwide issue.