Dental charity issues warning against DIY dentistry

A leading oral health charity is warning people against DIY dentistry after an alarming number of people revealed they would not visit the dentist to remove a tooth.

In a new survey, one in five (20%) said they would attempt to remove a tooth either on their own or ask a friend to do so if they could not afford the necessary dental treatment, prompting the British Dental Health Foundation to issue a stark reminder of the potential problems this could cause.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, says the research highlights the desperate measures some will go to rid themselves of pain and issues a strict warning to those thinking about performing DIY dentistry.

Dr Carter says: ‘DIY dentistry is both dangerous and unnecessary. There are too many senseless examples of people either pulling out the wrong tooth or ending up with an infection. It is all too easy to make the problem worse, which could result in more invasive and expensive treatment, so I urge those considering self-treatment to think again.

‘The scandal of these results are that access and affordability of good quality NHS dentistry has never been better.’

Latest figures show more than 29 million patients in England have been seen and given a dental examination in the last two years – around 56% of the population.

Many experts forecast this to increase further following the introduction of ‘direct access’, which gives patients the opportunity to see a dental care professional such as a hygienist or therapist, without having to been seen by a dentist.

The new regulations mean that dental hygienists and dental therapists will be able to carry out certain treatments and procedures, such as fillings, while dental nurses can participate in preventive programmes.

‘By allowing other dental care professionals to see and treat patients, any barriers that may have existed in access to dental care should now be a thing of the past,’ Dr Carter adds.

‘Direct access allows more patients to be seen sooner, so long gone are the days where somebody should be tempted to use a doorknob and a piece of string to remove a tooth.  In no circumstances should anybody resort to performing any kind of dental work themselves.

‘Remember, it is important to have regular dental check-ups to keep your oral health on the right track and ensure any problems which may exist do not deteriorate beyond repair.’

The survey, commissioned by the British Dental Health Foundation, ahead of the UK’s largest oral health campaign, National Smile Month, aimed to assess the UK’s attitudes and behaviours towards their oral health.

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