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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 January 2008, 03:48 GMT
'I've no idea when I'll get a dentist'
Patients are struggling to access NHS dentistry, a Citizens Advice survey shows.

So what happens to those that are left stranded?

Jim McKenzie
Jim McKenzie needed emergency treatment

At first Jim McKenzie could not work out what was wrong.

He ran his tongue along his teeth and found the sharp, jagged remnants of a tooth where his molar should have been.

The 53-year-old said: "I guess I must have been eating something hard and it broke my tooth and dislodged half the filling.

"It was lacerating my tongue. It was strange. It wasn't really painful, but I kept getting food stuck in it and knew I had to do something about it."

Mr McKenzie, from Newquay in Cornwall, had not been to see a dentist for several years and so had been knocked off the list of his family's regular surgery.

"I telephoned a dental helpline and was told there were no NHS dentist available.

I am at an age where my teeth are collapsing and I want to make sure I do all the preventative stuff right
Jim McKenzie

"They said the only thing I could do was ring the emergency helpline in the morning at 8.30am prompt.

"I did, but I think it was a free-for-all and by the time I got through there were no local appointments so I had to travel to St Austell 20 miles away for NHS treatment.

"When I got there, the treatment was great. It was just getting access in the first place that was a problem and I felt bad because I don't think I was a real emergency. It was not bleeding and I was not in terrible pain."

After the emergency treatment in November, he registered to be put on the local waiting list, but has still not been assigned a dentist.

"I don't know when I will get one. I don't blame my old dentist for knocking me off the list, but I just worry about not being able to find one now.

"I am at an age where my teeth are collapsing and I want to make sure I do all the preventative stuff right.

"I have said I will travel anywhere as I have a car, but I still have not had any joy.

"One dentist said there might be a space in February but there will probably be a queue a mile long."

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

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