The One Show talks NHS dentistry

07 December 2021
2 min read

BBC's The One Show recently turned its attention to dentistry, placing the current NHS dental crisis in the prime-time spotlight.

Host Lauren Laverne began, “One area severely affected by the pandemic is dentistry. In some parts of the UK, it’s almost impossible to get an appointment with an NHS dentist.”

The episode featured Danielle, who has been trying to find an NHS dentist for five years. It is explained that the delays “have prompted her to take drastic action”.

Danielle told Rezzy Ghadjar, “The pain just got so bad that I had no other choice, that I just had to remove them.” She then proceeds to show the 12 teeth she has taken out herself.

She explained her struggle, “I would ring a dentist because I could feel my teeth getting loose and I would get told the same thing – that no one was taking on NHS patients anymore.”

Danielle also shared that her inability to receive care has taken a toll on her, admitting, “It’s my personality almost taken away, because I love chatting to people and smiling to people, but I’m hiding because I don’t want them to see my mouth, I don’t want them to hear me speak.”

She added, “I can’t afford to go private, and I’m left with nothing – so lost basically, without a dentist.”

Rezzy explained that whilst Danielle’s case is extreme, she is not alone. “According to the British Dental Association (BDA), over 13 million NHS dental appointments have been lost in England alone since the first lockdown.”

Rezzy continued, “Dentists across the county say they’re struggling to keep up with demand.”

She added that the Department of Health and Social care told The One Show, “Urgent dental care is back to pre-pandemic levels, and that it continues to work with the sector to improve access – recently updating its infection control guidance to help practices get back on track.”

Rezzy then went on to explain that there is another way for people in a position such as Danielle to access emergency dental care – with charity Dentaid operating “a mobile surgery aimed at helping those most in need”.

Jill, part of the Dentaid, explained to the programme, “We’ve brought our mobile dental unit here [Bury St Edmunds] today for people who are suffering with toothache, but can’t access any other dentistry, and over the two days that we’ll be here, we’re expecting to see about 70 people.”

Jill shared that they had seen a few cases of DIY dentistry, but also received feedback from patients who would have “been very tempted to perform DIY dentistry” had it not been for Dentaid.

Rezzy concluded, “Everyone knows how important it is to look after [your teeth], but it seems like for the foreseeable future, for many of us, booking an appointment with our dentist will continue to be like pulling teeth.”