National Health Service losing dentists

Patients are getting impatient – and are pulling out their own teeth.

Lindsay Guentzel

The National Health Service in England is losing dentists to private practices and it’s causing patients to do crazy things – like pull out their own teeth.

The organization, which provides most of its services for free, is the leading health-care provider in England.

The British government reformed the National Health Service in April, causing animosity among dentists who claimed it affected their incomes.

Because they are contracted, many dentists cut their number of National Health Service patients or dropped the program altogether.

After this, a dentistry-watch survey was issued to 750 dentists and more than 5,000 patients in England between July and September.

British people have come to rely on the National Health Service, and when it isn’t available, they take drastic measures, the survey showed.

Six percent of the patients surveyed said they had resorted to self-treatment because they couldn’t find a National Health Service dentist.

One patient indicated he extracted 14 of his teeth using pliers, while others said they had used super glue to replace fillings and crowns that fell out, the survey said.

Private dentists are available in England, but many of those surveyed said these care providers are often unaffordable, according to the survey’s results.

University alumnus Dr. George Winn, who periodically teaches at the University, has operated his own dental practice for more than 40 years and said he has never seen patients who have performed procedures on themselves.

Through Medical Ministries International, Dr. Winn performed oral surgery in Jamaica nine times and said he never saw situations like that there, either.

“They don’t have things like that down there,” he said.

Mary Kiffe, Boynton Health Service’s dental clinic associate administrator, said the clinic has also never dealt with patients performing procedures on themselves.

The University doesn’t offer students dental benefits through its undergraduate health insurance, though programs exist that offer it to select students.

Sue Jackson, the University’s director of student health benefits, said undergraduate dental benefits would cost too much, though the University has researched it in the past.

There are nearly 2,100 Academic Health Center students receiving dental benefits, and around 4,600 graduate students who receive dental coverage through the Graduate Assistants Health Benefit Plan, she said.

Jackson said the Academic Health Center students expressed interest in paying more for the coverage.

“This is the first year Academic Health Center students have received dental,” she said.

When choosing student health-insurance plans, she said the University looks at what the majority of students want.

“We have the best student insurance in the country at the University here,” Jackson said.

University alumnus Joshua Redshaw said while he doesn’t have dental insurance, jobs that offer it are appealing.

Although he hasn’t seen a dentist in more than two years, he wouldn’t resort to performing procedures on himself, he said.

“That’s gross,” Redshaw said. “I guess I would just bite the bullet and pay for it out of pocket or on a credit card.”