Warning over ‘concerning’ rise in at-home cosmetic dentistry amid NHS crisis
- Overall, one in five Brits reported taking dental health into their own hands
- Results suggest social media is partly to blame for driving the ‘concerning’ trend
Dentists have spent years begging Brits to steer clear of DIY treatments.
But it seems their pleading has gone in vain, as research suggests the number performing at-home cosmetic dentistry has more than doubled in the last five years.
Overall, one in five people reported taking dental health into their own hands, according to the survey of more than 2,000 Brits by Bupa.
Results suggested that social media is partly to blame for driving the ‘concerning’ trend, with 16 per cent of respondents admitting to creating their own teeth-whitening concoctions after watching clips on TikTok and other sites.
Along with at-home teeth whitening, people reported using plaque scraping gadgets and buying braces online.
London recorded the lowest percentage of adults who have seen and NHS dentist from 2020 to 2022. The North East and Yorkshire recorded the highest rate at 41.8 per cent
David Sergeant, from Seacroft in Leeds, said he had to resort to DIY dentistry because he hasn’t been able to see a dentist for ’10 or 15 years’ — even after receiving an GP referral
The survey results show that there has been a 116 per cent increase in DIY dentistry since 2018.
One in six people admitted to making their own teeth whitening mixture using hydrogen peroxide.
The chemical is found in some whitening toothpastes and treatments and can be effective when used properly.
But the compound, which is also used cleaning and laundry products, can cause mouth infections and severe life-threating complications, such as stomach bleeding, breathing products, if used incorrectly.
Chris Hanford, a Bupa Dental Care dentist, said: ‘DIY dental treatment can seem like a big cost saving initially.
How much does NHS dentistry cost?
There are 3 NHS charge bands:
Band 1: £23.80
Covers an examination, diagnosis and advice. If necessary, it also includes X-rays, a scale and polish, and planning for further treatment.
Band 2: £65.20
Covers all treatment included in Band 1, plus additional treatment, such as fillings, root canal treatment and removing teeth (extractions).
Band 3: £282.80
Covers all treatment included in Bands 1 and 2, plus more complex procedures, such as crowns, dentures and bridges.
For comparison, check-ups can cost between £20 and £120 at private dentists, according to Which?.
Dentures and bridges can also cost up to £2,520, the consumer watchdog says.
‘However, such treatment can cause irreversible damage that can not only lead to pain but end up being more complex and costly to fix.
‘The problem is that dental treatment at home is not professionally prescribed or supervised – and there’s the added risk of buying counterfeit whitening kits.’
‘Any at-home teeth-whitening can cause damage to tooth enamel, give rise to tooth decay, as well as gum and tooth sensitivity – particularly if they’re used too frequently, ‘ Hanford added.
‘Poorly planned or ill-fitting braces can cause anything from wobbly teeth or gum recession to damaged bone.’
The consequences of DIY dental treatments can also be severe.
The research found that 74 per cent of people who’d done it needed emergency treatment to fix their issues.
One in six people out of the group reported that they now have damaged tooth enamel, brittle teeth, tooth and gum sensitivity, weakened and brittle teeth, bruising or damaged dental bone.
But some cash-strapped Brits say they have no other option.
One study revealed 11million people in England failed to get an NHS dentist appointment last year.
This left some resorting to £3.99 repair kits and others pulling out their own teeth, as they were unable to fork out for private care.
David Sergeant, from Leeds, said he was not able to see a dentist for ’10 or 15 years’ — even after receiving a GP referral.
As a result, he says he was forced to use pliers or his hands to pluck out loose teeth.
Before facing the ordeal, the 50-year-old says he has a ‘couple of beers’ and ibuprofen — but confesses that his DIY dentistry leaves him with a bloody mouth.
He said: ‘I’ve been pulling my own teeth out.
‘I can’t get an NHS dentist, for ten or 15 years. I’ve tried referrals from the doctors and there’s nowhere that will take me.
Figures obtained by MailOnline eight months ago showed that in the 10 worst counties in England there are just 2,815 NHS dentists serving a population of more than 11.5 million people – or an average of one dentist to every 3,476 people
The country’s worst area to receive NHS dental treatment – eight months ago – wass Kent, with just 407 dentists covering a population of almost 1.6 million – or one to every 3,904 people. While Hampshire, where the dental crisis has been raging for several years, is rated as the second-worst offender, with only one NHS dentist to every 3,773 people in its 1.85 million population
The country’s best area – eight months ago – to receive NHS dental treatment was Cambridgeshire, with 145 dentists covering a population of 319,189
‘I wait until the tooth is loose and then loosen it and loosen it and loosen it and pull it out myself. I have used pliers in the past, like big ones, but most of the time I just use my fingers.
‘I have a couple of beers and fill myself up with ibuprofen and out it comes. Next morning there’s a bit of blood.’
Director and principal dentist at Serene, Dr Safa Al-Naher, said he is ‘very worried and concerned’ about the rise in at-home dentistry.
He said: ‘I have personally seen many cases that have come through to me, some disastrous.
‘It is a false economy ultimately, as you spend your money on these products initially and then you spend more money again to get them fixed.’
READ MORE: Patients are pulling out their own TEETH at home because they cannot access or afford a dentist, report finds
Ten per cent of 2,104 people asked in a YouGov poll admitted to attempting ‘DIY dentistry’ (file image)
‘This discourages people from taking care of their teeth on a regular basis, visiting their dentists every six to 12 months.’
It comes after a YouGov poll of 2,104 people across the UK conducted in March 2023 found that one in 10 people have attempted DIY dentistry.
More than half (56 per cent) of the group carried it out in the last year and 20 per cent said they did so because they could not find an NHS dentist.
NHS dentistry has been in crisis for years but the situation has worsened since Britain emerged from the pandemic.
Thousands of NHS dentists quit during Covid and industry polls suggest even more are considering going fully private in the near future.
Dentists argued it is no longer financially viable to offer NHS procedures because of a lack of Government investment.
As a result, people have been left with no choice but to pay huge private fees, go without or do their own dental procedures.
Figures obtained by MailOnline last year also show that in the 10 worst impacted counties in England, there are just 2,815 NHS dentists serving a population of more than 11.5 million people — or an average of one dentist to every 3,476 people.
In Kent, just 407 dentists cover a population of almost 1.6 million — or one to every 3,904 people.
Hampshire, where the dental crisis has been raging for several years, is rated as the second-worst offender, with only one NHS dentist to every 3,773 people.
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