Patients pull own teeth as dental contract falters

Large numbers of people in Britain are going without dental treatment and some even report extracting their own teeth because they cannot find a National Health Service (NHS) dentist in their area, according to a survey by Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) Forums.

According to PPI:

  • Just over 10 per cent of the population surveyed was not registered with a dentist at all.

  • A third of those (35 per cent) said there were no NHS dentists nearby and 22 per cent said they did not know how to find one.

  • Some 13 per cent said they were on a waiting list and 30 per cent said there were other reasons.

  • More than three-quarters of those who have a private dentist consider they were forced into it because their own dentist went private or they could not find an NHS dentist.

    In addition:

  • Some 6 per cent of the respondents said they were self-treating, which often included pulling out their own troublesome teeth.

  • Almost half said they did not understand the charging system and 20 per cent of those with NHS dentists went without treatment because of the cost.

    Further, fixed charging bands by the NHS meant dentists were better off if they treated people who needed less work, according to PPI. "There is no incentive in the contract to take on new patients who often have high needs. I feel the contract discriminates against people who probably need me most," said a dentist in response to the survey.

    Source: Sarah Boseley, Patients pull own teeth as dental contract falters, The Guardian, October 15, 2007.

    For text:,,2191204,00.html

    For more on Health Issues:

    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 23 October 2007
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