Nearly one in four Britons have resorted to DIY dentistry during the coronavirus lockdown, new figures reveal.
A study of 2,000 adults by the Oral Health Foundation in partnership with Colgate found that 24 per cent of adults had tried to fix their teeth problems at home while 55 per cent of had admitted to neglecting their oral health during the pandemic.
Figures also showed that 19 per cent, nearly one on five, had admitted they were not brushing their teeth twice a day – the bare minimum recommended by professionals.
The study, which provides an insight into how the nation treats its oral health, comes after a report by Healthwatch England revealed the watchdog had received an ‘unprecedented’ rise in calls and complaints about dentistry during the lockdown.
In October last year, father-of-three Chris Savage, 42, from Southsea in Portsmouth, consumed eight pints of Stella Artois before yanking two of his teeth out in his bedroom, after he was unable to register with a dentist.
Chris Savage, 42, from Southsea in Portsmouth, pulled two of his teeth out in his bedroom, after he was unable to register with a dentist last year
The father-of-three consumed eight pints of Stella Artois before yanking the teeth out with pliers
Mr Savage, a labourer, had been experiencing a ‘constant pain’ in his two upper front teeth when he decided to remove them himself.
He told The News: ‘I ended up having to get very drunk the first time because I knew I didn’t want to do it – obviously.
‘Nobody wants to take part of their own face away with a set of pliers with no real painkiller.
‘I put the pliers on my tooth and the second I did that it hurt, so I took them away, waited five minutes, built up again and then thought I’ve just got to do it.’
Elsewhere Billy Taylor, from Axminster, Devon, resorted to pulling his tooth with a pair of pliers, after suffering ‘excruciating’ pain.
Mr Taylor had tried to call 11 but said he was told that medics would be unable to attend to him unless he was experiencing difficulties in breathing.
He told The Sun: ‘The pain was excruciating. My face was swelling and I had a migraine on that side. I think it was an abscess.’
Mr Taylor took a couple of shots of whisky before using the pliers to remove his tooth.
He added: ‘The process was bloody painful. It was hideous. But I’m into motocross – I can put up with a lot.’
Fay Edwards told ITV’s This Morning last year that she had unsuccessfully tried to remove a tooth after being left in excruciating pain.
She explained: ‘It was desperate measures. I was crying and didn’t know what to do.
‘I started with tweezers tying to loosen the tooth. I got my husband’s pliers and tried to remove it myself. I just wanted it out.’
Billy Taylor, from Axminster, Devon, decided to pulling his tooth out with a pair of pliers last year
Mr Taylor described how he took the drastic measure after the pain in his mouth became ‘excruciating’
Meanwhile Fay Edwards told ITV’s This Morning that she had unsuccessfully tried to remove a tooth after she was unable to get an urgent appointment
In April Paul Cutting, from Canvey Island, Essex, decided to pull out his wife Karen’s aching molar after she was denied an emergency dental appointment.
Stomach-churning footage showed Mr Cutting place the pliers on his wife’s tooth and yank it out.
Mr Cutting, whose wife is profoundly deaf, said at the time: ‘It was a desperation move – we couldn’t get an emergency dentist appointment and I didn’t want to take Karen to hospital.
‘It would be like putting your head in the lion’s mouth.’
The latest study also found that problems around oral health were made worse by a rise in the consumption of unhealthy eating and drinking habits, with 20 per cent eating more junk food than before lockdown and 11 per cent drinking more alcohol.
The foundation’s chief executive, Nigel Carter, warned that home treatments in untrained hands was a ‘terrible idea’.
He said: ‘DIY home dentistry is a terrible idea and should be avoided at all costs.
‘Home treatments in untrained hands often comprise of shortcuts that come with added dangers and can lead to permanent damage to your health.
‘If you are experiencing any problems with your mouth, like toothache, the best thing you can do is book an appointment with your dentist.
‘Your dental team can spot diseases like tooth decay in the early stages and treat it before it gets worse, when you might need a filling or have the tooth taken out.’
Paul Cutting, from Canvey Island, Essex, pulled out his wife Karen’s aching molar last year
Mr Cutting said his wife had been denied an emergency dental appointment and the move was an act of ‘desperation’
The reluctance to see a dentist may be partly caused by social distancing fears or because some think dentists are not operating during the pandemic.
But Dr Carter added: ‘Having been closed at the beginning of the pandemic and dealing with a backlog of patients in the months that followed, most dental practices are now back to relative normality.
‘You should be able to get an appointment. If you think you have been neglecting your oral health lately, or haven’t been to the dentist in a while, my advice is to go and book yourself in for a check-up.’
Data has shown that 30 million UK adults have one or more fillings and 18 per cent have not seen a dentist in two years.
However, since the pandemic, a third of Britons (36 per cent) have had toothache with nine per cent experiencing pain for two weeks or longer.
Dr Carter added: ‘Since coronavirus, it has been easy to get into the mindset that your health is not completely within your control.
‘There are, however, elements of your health that you do have full authority over. One of these is the health of the mouth. Good oral health is completely in your own hands.’
Last year a report by Healthwatch England found the watchdog had received an ‘unprecedented’ rise in calls and complaints about dentistry.
Authors of Healthwatch England’s report wrote: ‘People who struggled to access dental treatments during the pandemic often experienced inconvenience, anxiety, worsening problems requiring further treatment, or worse.
‘Some people were left in debilitating pain, while others feared that they would lose their teeth when they couldn’t access care.’
The authors added: ‘We have heard a few extreme cases when lack of access to dentistry pushed people to take steps which put their health and wellbeing at risk.
‘In another case, Healthwatch Portsmouth heard about a person who used pliers at home to remove their own teeth.’
, 2021-01-19 11:51:33