Appointment struggles create DIY dentistry boom

man carrying out diy dentistryDIY dentistry ‘first aid’ kits are experiencing a huge boom in sales as patients struggle to get dental appointments.

Boots claims its at-home dental kits for lost fillings, caps and crowns were up 87% towards the end of 2020.

The British Dental Association (BDA) believes this is down to a lack of investment in ventilation equipment in England to help increase patient throughput.

The BDA estimates the number of missed dental appointments in England has reached 14 million due to COVID-19. As a result, from 1 January to 31 March 2021, practices will need to deliver at least 45% of their NHS contracts.

‘Patients should never have to take matters into their own hands,’ Eddie Crouch, chair of the BDA, says.

‘Sadly, this boom in”DIY dentistry” directly reflects the choices made by government throughout this pandemic.

‘In the first lockdown, patients in pain were left with few options. Now Ministers have imposed targets that are forcing dentists to prioritise volume over need.

‘We need help to restore access for the patients that need us most.’

DIY dentistry during lockdown

One in four households (25%) across the UK opted for at least one form of DIY dentistry during the first lockdown.

Within the 25% figure, the Association of Dental Groups’ survey suggests:

  • In 12.7% of households, someone has taken painkillers for dental pain
  • In 7.9% of households, someone has attempted to treat a cavity in a tooth
  • And in 7.6% of households, someone has attempted to extract a tooth.

‘Pulling your own teeth out is rarely a good idea. It can damage the surrounding teeth and lead to long-term problems,’ says ADG chair, Neil Carmichael.

‘All of the signs are that dentists will be called upon to repair the damage caused by broken and knocked out teeth. This is also on top of a host of other oral health problems that lockdown has been storing up.

‘This would be bad enough if we did not already have an access crisis in dentistry, with many people struggling to get appointments. Ministers must therefore take urgent action. This will then ensure we have the NHS dentists we need to deal with what’s around the corner.’

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