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Dentaid returns to Bury St Edmunds but councillor says 'it's a sticking plaster over gaping wound'



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A dental charity has returned to Bury St Edmunds as residents continue to struggle to book NHS dental appointments.

Dentaid, a charity which usually offers free dental appointments to homeless and vulnerable people, has today set up at The New Bury Community Centre on the Howard estate.

Roughly 30 people signed up to be seen, while others waited in line on the off chance that they might get an appointment later today.

The Dentaid van at The New Bury Community Centre in Charles Place.
The Dentaid van at The New Bury Community Centre in Charles Place.

One person who was waiting in line at 10am was Sharon Salisbury who was suffering with an abscess.

Two weeks ago she waited in A&E for four hours to be prescribed antibiotics for the infection.

She said: "On Monday I had to ring about 10 dentists and I could not get in one. I work full time, I pay my taxes and I couldn't get anywhere. So on my day off I'm here.

Sharon Salisbury was waiting in line after suffering with an abscess for two weeks.
Sharon Salisbury was waiting in line after suffering with an abscess for two weeks.

"I'm so thankful that they're here. I appreciate them so much but we shouldn't have to do this. It's 2022 - it's not right.

"People are crying out for help - and there's nothing worse than toothache."

Sharon was told by her own dentist who she hadn't visited for a while that the service was now private - something a few people who were waiting in line were also told.

Cllr Donna Higgins of the Minden ward and Cllr Marilyn Sayer of the Tollgate ward.
Cllr Donna Higgins of the Minden ward and Cllr Marilyn Sayer of the Tollgate ward.

Miley Zdrenka, 9, and her grandmother Janice Irving were also among those who were queuing. Miley, who had been suffering with two holes in her teeth, was lucky enough to receive an appointment.

Janice said: "We've never been able to get an NHS dentist which is shocking for a child. Miley's mum phoned up 111 and the nearest dentist was in Essex which they couldn't get to.

"It was painful when she ate and drank, and she was suffering for about a month. But she's been seen now - she had to have two fillings."

Dentaid's last visit to Bury St Edmunds in February was funded by councillor's locality budgets and there was enough money left over to pay for today.

Dentaid has returned to Bury St Edmunds for a fourth time.
Dentaid has returned to Bury St Edmunds for a fourth time.

Town Cllr Donna Higgins, who represents the Minden Ward, said: "We will have to regroup as councillors and have a look at whether we bring Dentaid back. We're still continuing to speak out as much as we possibly can because this is a sticking plaster over a gaping wound.

"We're over subscribed again today we can't just keep doing this."

Jill Harding, communications director for Dentaid, added: "We returned because there is still a need in this community for people to access dental care. We're fortunate enough to be supported by the town council.

"There was a really good response from the two previous visits. There's still clearly a demand from the length of the queue."

The Dentaid van was in Leiston yesterday and volunteers were able to see 30 people.

The van will be at The New Bury Community Centre in Charles Place until 4pm today.