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Bury St Edmunds woman Danielle Watts unable to find an NHS dentist forced to pull out 11 of her own teeth





Patients have been forced to perform DIY dentistry as a result of the postcode lottery of NHS dental services.

Danielle Watts, 42, of Bury St Edmunds, said she had removed 11 of her own teeth after she was unable to see a dentist for six years after her surgery closed.

The mum-of-two is missing a third of her gnashers, including both front teeth, and her mouth is plagued by pussy abscesses due to chronic gum disease.

Danielle Watts, of Bury St Edmunds, who pulled out 11 of her own teeth
Danielle Watts, of Bury St Edmunds, who pulled out 11 of her own teeth

She now fears that she'll lose all her teeth as she can't afford private treatment, which could cost "thousands of pounds".

She told the BBC: "I have tried 111 and was told it wasn't that serious as my face wasn't that swollen and just to take painkillers and see how it went. I have just had nowhere to turn. Literally every phone call (to a dentist) 'no we're not taking on NHS patients'.

"I don't smile. I have lost my confidence. I take painkillers on a daily basis. I have to grin and bear it."

Danielle visited her practice, run by MyDentist, once a year before it shut, while her children Oscar, 12, and Eliza, eight, visited every six months.

Danielle said: "My teeth literally fall out. It's not like I have to get the pliers out - just a little twist or tug and they're free.

"I don't enjoy it, trust me. It's not like I've got a weird fetish or anything.

"I'm always having infection in my mouth - on a daily basis I'm in pain.

"If I have a bit of a lump that comes up I tend to give it a squeeze and it erupts with puss coming out."If I squeeze my gum, even without an abscess, I have puss come out."

The teeth pulled out by Danielle Watts because she couldn't find a dentist. Credit: SWNS
The teeth pulled out by Danielle Watts because she couldn't find a dentist. Credit: SWNS

Danielle, an aspiring teaching assistant, added: "It's not like I've given up on my dental hygiene. I brush my teeth every day."

"When MyDentist shut they didn't refer us anywhere. They've now reopened but not for NHS patients.

"When I've walked into a private dentist they've handed me a leaflet with a £180 cost before I even sit down in the chair.

"I can't afford to have that initial check-up and then have everything else afterwards.

"I don't expect free treatment. I'm aware there are costs but if I can't get through a door then I don't know what I'm looking at.

"I can't help not being able to get the help I needed."

The teeth pulled out by Danielle Watts because she couldn't find a dentist. Credit: SWNS
The teeth pulled out by Danielle Watts because she couldn't find a dentist. Credit: SWNS

Danielle said she's received emergency dental care via 111 before but the dentists were unable to address her underlying gum disease.

She added that she is now worried for her kids, including son Oscar who needs braces, but still can't find a practice accepting NHS patients.

Danielle said: "I'd like someone to look in my mouth and my children's mouths.

"I don't want my children to be looked at like I know I'm looked at.

"I'm paranoid. It's horrible walking into a situation and all you're thinking is 'I've got no teeth, I can't speak properly, what are they going to think of me?'

"Even walking down the street, if someone makes eye contact and I smile then I think 'oh my God, I've smiled, sh*t', and I close my mouth."

She said that her teeth problems have brought about huge changes to her diet and lifestyle.

"I avoid eating out because it hurts. I've probably lost a bit of weight through this.

"When I brush my teeth I have to use a sensitive toothbrush and I use hot water to soften the bristles.

"I can't eat apple slices. Bananas I can manage but they stick around my roots, which is painful.".

Danielle's plight comes as the British Dental Association (BDA) issued a warning to Health Secretary Sajid Javid that real ambition was needed to reform the broken NHS dental service.
Danielle's plight comes as the British Dental Association (BDA) issued a warning to Health Secretary Sajid Javid that real ambition was needed to reform the broken NHS dental service.

Danielle's plight comes as the British Dental Association (BDA) issued a warning to Health Secretary Sajid Javid that real ambition was needed to reform the broken NHS dental service.

In his speech to Conservative Party Conference the Health Secretary failed to make any mention of the precarious state of NHS dental services.

While covid restrictions have slashed capacity in the service, ongoing pressures have reduced access.

The NHS contract system funds care for little over half the population and has left many areas experiencing acute recruitment and retention problems.

While the Government has already committed to reform NHS dentistry, the BDA said ministers must be ambitious, with no return to a ‘business as usual’ model where access problems were the norm.

It has stressed steps must also be taken to tackle oral health inequalities which are expected to widen, given ongoing access problems, the suspension and disruption to public health programmes and the impact of sugar-rich lockdown diets.

Eddie Crouch, BDA chairman, said: “The crisis in this service pre-dates covid. It’s the practices unable to fill vacancies, patients struggling to secure needed care and desperate people taking matters into their own hands.

“Ministers have a responsibility to ensure the grotesque spectacle of ‘DIY dentistry’ ends.”

Last month, we reported on desperate patients unable to find an NHS dentist, while NHS England plans for new dental services across Suffolk and Norfolk failed to include any in west or mid Suffolk.

Meanwhile, 'Toothless in Suffolk' campaigners have planned a march and demonstration in Bury on October 17. They will assemble on Angel Hill from 11am, leaving at 11.30am to march past MP Jo Churchill’s offices before assembling in the Abbey Gardens to hear from speakers.

MyDentist and the NHS have been approached for comment

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