A MAN from Oldham was removed his own tooth with pliers after not being able to access an NHS dentist.

That’s according to a case study within a dentist report by Healthwatch Oldham, which revealed people were “unable to find an NHS dentist” and many practices were operating without waiting lists.

The man, whose first language is not English, reportedly had dental pain but could not register with a dentist as none were taking on new patients.

According to the report: “He contacted the Emergency Dental Service and due to the language barrier could not arrange an appointment.The pain got worse, so he removed the tooth (back molar) himself using pliers, he advised a lady who voluntarily supports him, and she was worried about infection.

“She rang the Emergency Dental Service who advised that as the problem was self-inflicted, they could not see him and advised to visit A&E, she took him there and after waiting four hours they could not help and said that he needed to see a dentist.”

The woman then made an appointment with the Emergency Dental Service on his behalf. At the appointment, a second tooth was removed, but the man requires further dental work and is unable to register with an NHS Dentist or even get onto a waiting list.

While the man’s case was the most extreme example, the report by Healthwatch Oldham came after more than 100 residents contacted the service for help to find a dentist taking on patients.

The independent watchdog said: “We are currently being contacted numerous times a day about these concerns. Initially, capacity concerns were explained by Covid-19 restrictions. However, since dentists have reopened following the first lockdown, patients have told us that they have been told that they can receive treatment as a private patient but not as an NHS registered patient.”

Between November and December 2020, Healthwatch Oldham had 67 responses to its survey.

It asked whether people had ever been unregistered by a dental practice without being made aware and 21 per cent(14 people) stated they had.

The respondents were also asked whether they had needed to use the emergency dental service during the pandemic and 12 people had.

One person said that after being on hold for two hours they were able to book an appointment only to find out the care they needed could only be provided by their registered dentist.

“So I am expected to sit in pain for up to 12 months until a local dentist is willing to register me and my young son, ” they said.

Another respondent said: “It does seem that dentists want to stop NHS work. They cancel appointments and do not remake them if you are under the NHS. I expect that if you are private, they will find a way to see you.”

In response to the findings, Laura Browse, director of primary care, Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, said:“Dental practices in Oldham, and across Greater Manchester, are working hard to restore dental services and ensure they are safe for everyone.

"Stricter infection prevention and control measures due to Covid-19 mean that capacity is reduced by around 70 per cent. For this reason, practices are prioritising dental care for children, patients in vulnerable groups, and those with an urgent clinical need.

"We understand that waiting longer for dental care can be distressing and we are working with practices to increase the number of available appointments over the coming months, whilst maintaining the safety of staff and patients.”