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Last Updated: Monday, 15 October 2007, 12:03 GMT 13:03 UK
'I rip out my teeth with pliers'
Dental equipment
Don used fishing equipment to extract his teeth
A survey says that many adults are unable to access NHS dentistry in their area. Don Wilson, from Rochester in Kent, now chooses to remove his own teeth when they start hurting, rather than looking for NHS care.

He is on income support, and says he simply cannot afford the high cost of private dental care.

"When you've got a severe toothache, you don't want to wait two or three weeks - you need treatment straightaway.

"But when I used to ring up dentists, either they couldn't see me on the NHS for weeks, or had no NHS patients at all.

"Of course, if I'd been prepared to pay the 150 emergency fee, they would have seen me straight away."

Hook remover

Even the last resort - the A&E unit of his local hospital - was unsuccessful, with staff there, according to Don, unwilling to extract teeth.

Obviously there's no anaesthetic, and it's very painful, but you just shut it out and get on with it

"So I decided to do it myself," he said. "I went for a rummage around in my tool box and found these fishing disgorgers - the tool you use to get a hook out of the back of a fish's mouth. They look a bit like scissors or pliers.

"I thought: 'These will do the job', and just started pulling it out.

Obviously there's no anaesthetic, and it's very painful, but you just shut it out and get on with it.

"I sit at my desk to do it, and when my wife comes in, she just grimaces at what I'm doing.

"It takes a few minutes, and you keep pulling and pulling, then you get this cracking sound, and the tooth just comes out.

"And that's it - the pain's just gone - so you clear up the mess and on you go."

Don has now used this technique on five teeth - four successfully, with the fifth breaking in half, leaving the bottom half still stuck in his gum.

Home surgery

He also says he's a dab hand at various other dental work.

You keep pulling and pulling, then you get this cracking sound, and the tooth just comes out

"If I've got a hole in my tooth, and it's hurting, I'll put a heated needle in the hole and that just kills the nerve, and stops the pain.

"I've also used liquid metal adhesive to stick crowns back on."

However, if cheap NHS care was available to him, he would opt for it - he is worried about the state of his front teeth now, and does not think he will have the skill to remove them cleanly at home.

"I think it's pretty disgusting you can't get things done unless you've got money. It's not just me - I know other people who have done this.

"If you're in agony with toothache, you haven't got much choice."



VOTE RESULTS
When was the last time you saw an NHS dentist?
Within the last six months
 30.78% 
Within the last year
 10.37% 
Longer than a year ago
 58.85% 
12390 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion


SEE ALSO
Dental students 'will shun NHS'
07 Sep 07 |  Health

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