Desperate people pulling out their own teeth, jagged molars rubbed down with nail files and dentists reluctantly agreeing to treat patients only if their pain is so unbearable they cannot eat or sleep.
This is the bleak picture of NHS dentistry in 2021 as painted by Mail on Sunday readers, who report a service that seems to have all but collapsed under the lockdown restrictions imposed on it last year as Covid-19 ran riot, leaving tens of thousands of anxious patients without access to the care they need.
A fortnight ago our resident GP, Dr Ellie Cannon, raised concerns, having heard worrying stories that many NHS dental clinics had virtually shut up shop.
Originally forced to close early last year due to safety fears – as dentists were at high risk of being exposed to Covid in the course of their duties – many have struggled to fully reopen, leaving patients without desperately needed appointments.
In response, hundreds of worried readers contacted us, complaining that it is almost impossible to get seen on the health service.
And it’s not just routine check-ups that have stalled – in some cases for up to two years.
Patients left in pain and discomfort from broken teeth and fillings say they are also being denied urgent access and told they may have to wait many months still.
Forced to close early last year due to safety fears – as dentists were at high risk of being exposed to Covid in the course of their duties – many clinics have struggled to fully reopen
Fearful of further decay, or even dangerous gum infections, 신촌 치과 many say they are being forced to spend hundreds – sometimes thousands – of pounds on private treatment instead.
Others accuse practices of refusing to carry out routine NHS checks but still offering expensive private appointments to jump the queue.
One frustrated reader wrote: ‘I have recently lost two pieces from teeth on either side of my mouth, but was told that unless I was in severe pain I could not visit the dentist.
‘My usual NHS check-up was due last July, but each time I call I’ve been told, ring again in the autumn, ring again at Christmas, 신촌 치과 ring again in the New Year and, finally, ring again in the spring.’ Another said: ‘By the time surgeries open, I will have waited two years for a check-up.’
Lin Boyd, 70, from The Wirral, noticed she had a couple of broken fillings last year, and rang her NHS dentist for an appointment.
‘I tried in May, June, July and August, and each time I was told they were seeing emergencies only and that my situation was not classed as an emergency.
‘But I had broken fillings on the bottom left and top left of my mouth, so I couldn’t eat properly.
‘In the end, I was so worried about the teeth disintegrating and causing more serious problems that I paid £500 for private treatment.’