- A dad was forced to pull out a a back molar after he was unable eat, drink or talk
- He could not get an NHS appointment and could not afford £90 to go private
A father was forced to pull out a loose tooth with a pair of pliers after failing to get an NHS dentist appointment.
Chris Langston, from Oswestry in Shropshire, was left in agony after his back molar became loose, causing pain when he ate, drank and spoke.
But the 50-year-old was unable to get an NHS appointment for six months.
He was left with the choice of paying £90 to get his tooth removed privately, 30 miles away at his nearest emergency dentist, or taking matters into his own hands.
Out of ‘necessity’, Mr Langston, a metal detecter, grabbed his pliers and ripped the tooth out in the bathroom of his home.
Chris Langston, 50, who runs metal detecting holidays, removed his back molar with pliers after it became loose
Mr Langston admitted he felt ‘weak at the knees’ when he came out of the bathroom after pulling his tooth out and nearly fainted, but says the pain relief was worth it. An appointment at a private dentist would have cost Mr Langston £40 for a check up and up to £50 for the removal, which he could not afford
Mr Langston said his loose tooth left him in the ‘worst pain’ of his life and forced him to eat just soup and rolls.
Mr Langston said: ‘I’ve never had a major toothache. As it got looser it was really painful every time I spoke. I could hear it niggling.
‘Every time I spoke or swallowed or drank or ate, it was agony.’
But an appointment at a private dentist would have cost him £40 for a check-up and up to £50 for the removal, which he could not afford.
On top of the cost, going private would have involved a 60-mile round trip.
Mr Langston said: ‘I couldn’t get there with the kids. So I took the pliers.
‘I heard the prices and thought I had to suck this up.’
Describing the process, he said: ‘As soon as I touched it, it hurt.
‘When I grabbed hold of it, it was like do I or not. It was a shock. Quite a pull but it came out quite clean.’
Mr Langston said: ‘A little tug and a pull down on the pliers and it was done. I wouldn’t recommend it. Not to anyone. It was horrible.’
‘There were two roots in and half a root out. It took quite a pull. It makes me cringe. The metal on the teeth is not a nice feeling.’
Although he claims the tooth came out ‘nice and easy’ he does admit there was a ‘little bit of blood’.
But yanking out the tooth brought ‘relief’, even though it left a ‘void’ in his mouth, Mr Langston said.
Mr Langston admitted he felt ‘weak at the knees’ when he came out of his bathroom and nearly fainted but says the pain relief was worth it.
He said: ‘The kids were horrified. I did it in the bathroom, I nearly passed out, I was weak at the knees. To psych yourself up, it’s a lot of adrenaline.’
His sister was in shock when Mr Langston admitted to yanking his own tooth out, but he hasn’t shown his mother the extracted tooth as she would find it ‘disgusting’.
As he was looking after his children, he said he had a ‘strong cup of tea’ after pulling out his tooth instead of brandy.
‘It was just out of necessity at the time, it was the circumstances. I can imagine there’s a dentist rolling their eyes reading this,’ Mr Langston added.
Since tugging the tooth out last week, Mr Langston said his pain has reduced to a dull ache and he can eat again.
‘The week before, all I could eat was soup and a roll. Now I can eat steak. The pain is not nearly as bad as it was. It just aches,’ he said.
This chart shows the number of dentists who carried out NHS activity each year, the figure dropped sharply during the Covid pandemic but has slightly recovered to just over 24,000 according to the latest data
He fears he could be left in a similar situation again if the Government doesn’t get a grip on the dentistry crisis.
‘It should never have got to this stage where I was forced to pull out my own teeth. The Government needs to do something urgently,’ Mr Langston said.
‘It’s impossible to get an NHS appointment in Oswestry. In the future, I’m still left without a dentist, I can’t afford to pay private.
‘Fingers crossed everything stays in place so that I don’t have to get these out again.’
He said he used to be able to get an NHS dentist appointment the same day, and that getting an emergency dentist by going private is out of his ‘realm of affordability’.
Mr Langston is one of many adults who have bene unable to access NHS dentistry.
The latest figures, for June last year, show roughly 26million adults (about 60 per cent of the population) haven’t had a check-up in the last two years.
This is one of the lowest proportions since modern records start in 2006.
The crisis has led to a rise in desperate Brits resorting to DIY dentistry to rid them of their pain.
A lack of NHS appointments has also been blamed for rising numbers of mouth cancer cases being missed, which is usually spotted in their earliest, and most treatable, stages during routine dental check-ups.
It comes after No10 this week unveiled its long-awaited NHS dental recovery plan, described as ‘putting NHS dentistry on a sustainable footing’.
Under Rishi Sunak’s bold blueprint to fix the appointments crisis plaguing millions, dentists will be offered up to £50 to see patients who haven’t had a check-up in the last two years.
Around 240 dentists — roughly one per cent of the current workforce — will be offered a one-off ‘golden hello’ bonus of up to £20,000 for working in under-served areas for up to three years.
‘Dental vans’ will also be rolled out in rural and coastal areas so people in the most isolated communities will still be able to access help.
The Government is also planning to controversially add fluoride to the drinking water of millions more Brits in a bid to passively protect their oral health.
Officials hope the measures could see up to 2.5million additional NHS appointments delivered for patients over the next 12 months.
But the plan — unveiled 10 months after it was promised — was slammed by dental bosses and politicians for not going far enough, with one saying that it amounted to ‘rearranging the deckchairs’.
Police were even forced to turn some patients away. Pictured, patients outside St Pauls Dental Practiceon Wednesday
In the new Labour ad, headlined ‘Dentistry Isn’t Working’, snaking queues of would-be patients are pictured waiting to register with the newly-opened NHS dental practice in Bristol
Health leaders instead called for ‘radical reform’ of the dental contract, accusing Mr Sunak of U-turning on his pledge to restore the crippled industry.
Labour has also accused the Government of lifting much of the blueprint from their own plans.
NHS dentistry has been in crisis for years, with leaders claiming the sector has been chronically underfunded, making it financially unviable to carry out treatments.
Exacerbating the problem is that, as more dentists leave the NHS, those that remain become swamped by more and more patients.
Some Brits have been forced to travel abroad — including to war-torn Ukraine — to see a dentist because of dire lack of NHS access.
Others have been left with no choice but to queue from 4am outside newly-opened NHS practices in hope of securing a check-up. Scenes outside one surgery in Bristol this week were described as being ‘reminiscent of Soviet-era Eastern Europe’.