In agony, fed up with poor quality dental treatment and at a loss with what to do

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Over the years from age 7 to 45 years, I've had twice yearly dental check-ups, fillings, some tooth extractions, wisdom teeth out. Regular stuff apart from having a mouthful of fillings as a child by a school dentist when a week previoulsy at a check up with my regular NHS dentist my teeth were fine and a very bad experience of root canal from a private dentist which had to be rectified by a specialist NHS dental surgery.

Unfortunately, when we moved to Cambridge 5 years ago there are no recommended dental surgeries taking on NHS patients near to where we live.

I found one in Cambridge. Attended twice  a year for check-ups and one filling re-done. Brushed my teeth twice a day, floss every other day, Corsodyl twice a week.

In 2011 I was hit by a car from behind in broad daylight. I wasn't physically able to visit the dentist for 1 year due to injuries. I was only able to some light brushing twice a day for 6 months while bed-bound and further brushing twice a day for a further 6 months.

Visited my regular dentist. Had a filling re-done.No X-ray.  A few weeks later was in pain. Saw another dentist at same surgery during Xmas period (2012). Gave me temporary filling on lower back tooth. Jan 2013 had tooth removed. Cracked and painful but removed (£51.30). Brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, Corsodyl every other day.

Then had spinal surgery. Couldn't physically go to dentist. Brushed my teeth twice a day. Three months later resumed dental check ups. June 2013 upper right tooth filling partly came away. Made 4 repeat trips to dentist to have filling re-done as it kept coming out (he kept re-filling very quickly) (£51.30) . By Jan 2014 he finally took time to do it properly and filling stayed in. Went back Feb 2014 for some treatment to same tooth? (£31.43) June 2014 had a clean (£18.80). August 2014 had another check-up and clean (£18.50). Dec 2014, in agony with same tooth. Given antiobiotics by another dentist at same surgery. A week later, same tooth removed (£51.30). Dentist didn't wait for injections to take effect. Had to give me a third in the middle of extraction. I was traumatised by end of it - hands shaking uncontrollably.

Mar 2015 searched for another dentist for check-up. Appt cancelled as dentist unfortunately died (?). April 2015 found another dentist. Had a privately-paid for clean by hygienst at same surgery. Very rough, stopped her as soon as i could. No pain prior to clean. Lower tooth at back aching after left. Cancelled NHS check-up appt.

Found another dentist. Next available appt 1 June 2015 for check-up. Lower tooth at back had tooth decay. Dentist put in a temporary filling with no injection. Not sure how thorough this filling was with no injection (£51.30). Brushing three times a day with prescription toothpaste, flossing once a day, Corsodyl every other day.

In periodically intense pain following treatment. Same tooth at lower back had to be extracted or root canal. Got an emergency appt Friday 12th (£18.50). Gave me 3 injections and couldn't get tooth out. Gave me antiobiotics and referral to another specialist dental surgery.

My face is bruised and swollen on the outside of where the tooth to be extracted is located. I am in absolute agony. I can swallow the tablets, drink water eat small amounts liquidised food (moving jaw is painful). I can't sleep without Neurofen. Additionally, the swelling and tooth are on the same side that I lie down on to ease the back and foot pain. 

I'm waiting for a letter. I can't talk properly. I'm in constant pain with no end in sight. I've taken as much responsibility for my teeth as I can.

How is this dental CARE? How can I require so many dental appts with so poor quality treatment in comparatively short space of time.

Something is not right and other than stopping eating completely once I've finished the antibiotics, what can I do?

I've complained to NHS England but not holding my breath.

I'm looking around for private dentist but both wary of treatment and most are too expensive for me anyway.


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  • Posted

    Hi Charlie

    You have certainly been through it.

    Hopefully, your appointment with the specialist dental surgery will come through quickly.  Why is your case of a failed tooth extraction not an emergency?  I can't begin to imagine what pain you must be in. 

    I registered with a private dentist once because I was not happy with the treatment at the NHS one.  I went every six months and for years didn't need anything doing, at least that was the view of the dentist.  When I attended for my appointment with the private dentist, the first thing he did was take an x-ray.  He showed my what state my teeth were in.  In nearly all my back teeth, top and bottom needed filling.  There were dark shadows on most of my teeth showing decay.  I was asked if I had been to a dentist in the last year!!  At that time I used to have pain in some of my teeth, especially when eating sweet foods.  A lot of fillings later, a root canal and a high bill it was all over.  Although it cost me a lot of money I didn't have any more problems with my teeth. 

    There is some kind of insurance that you can pay monthly (HSA comes to mind - at least I think it is that) and you get back the cost of any dental treatment.  My sister and her husband have the insurance.  Her husband goes private and claims all the costs back.  Maybe that might be something you could look into if you have doubts over an NHS dentist. 

    I wish you a speedy recovery once you have the tooth out and that you manage to find a dentist you can trust.


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    • Posted

      Hi Marie,

      Thanks for your kind words, sharing and advice.

      Yesterday, took some Neurofen Express liqud capsules, some rest and wrote things down rather than talking, as moving my jaw hurts. Feel a little better today.

      I realise this time will pass and there are others in much more complex situations (like dealing with cancers).

      Having been hospitalised for other non-dental things in Feb and March this year, was hoping we could get back to normal. So endurance and patience levels have gone down now.

      I think once this over, I will look into insurance and going private. last private treatment they made a mess of it and had to go NHS specialist. Hopefully like you said I can find a competent dentist this time.

      What's frustrating is being a layperson not being able to trust what the NHS dentist is saying/ doing is for your good - for me they seem to be doing more harm than good. Prior to previous extraction, the dentist wanted to put in a crown. He couldn't do it so went back to filling. Finally did it. But if he could do a proper filling on the 4th attempt, why couldn't he have done it on the 1st attempt and maybe saved the tooth?

      This time round with another dentist, she put in a temporary filling without an injection and told me to come back in 2 months. I was surprised at 2 months. Why not next available appt? (the time limit on any one NHS treatment?) She showed me an x-ray and the nerve looked fine. How does a nerve die within a week? Why not arrange for another appt soon, excavate the tooth and fill and maybe save the tooth?

      When I went back within the week because of the pain, she was keen to do a root canal and was almost shocked that I wanted an extraction. I forewarned her that a previous tooth had cracked before being extracted. She said that wasn't a problem. When she couln't get the tooth out, it was because she thought the tooth would crack and she didn't have the tools to deal with broken bone (???) (the surgery had v.good reviews online). Shouldn't she have told me that at the beginning? Are tooth extraction tools part of the basic kit for a qualified dentist?

      I watched "the Truth about Teeth" programme yesterday. I wouldn't advocate it but ironically it seems not going to dentist for many years makes it easier to extract teeth!!

      Hey ho! Thanks again for your experience and advice :-)

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  • Posted

    Just an update.

    Following my first post, I got an appointment for 2 weeks later to see an NHS dentist at the hospital. The time lag allowed for the pain and swelling caused by my regular dentist's failed extraction to go down.

    The hospital dentist was much better. I told him about previous dentists not numbing the area properly and he kept reassuring me that "he wasn't the past" and that he would do it properly. His dential assistant was very helpful and reassuring. I was allowed to listen to my ipod during the procedure. The 3 injections worked properly. No pain, just discomfort, extraction was difficult and needed a lot of coercion - it also broke but i didn't need a surgical procedure.

    Three hours later the anaethestic wore off and the pain was excruitiating. I couldn't open my jaw to swallow a painkiller. Had a load of icepacks on ice which were very soothing. 2nd day started sipping water and had half a tin of soup. Threw that up later. 3rd day made myself sip more water more frequently. Felt very ill but later ate and kept down spoonfuls of rice. Overall the swelling is much less than after treatment from my regular dentist.

    On reflection, the treatments over the last year or so from 2 NHS dentists and 1 private hygienst are definitely not right . Am considering what to do next and setting aside savings to sort my teeth out for the year ahead.

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    • Posted

      Hi Charlie

      Pleased to hear that you have had a positive exerience even though it has left you in pain.  It is inevitable that you will be in pain after such an extraction.

      My husband had to have a wisdom tooth out which had not come through but was decaying in the jawbone.  He had to go to hospital to  have it out and opted not to be put under with a general anaesthetic.  I went with him and when he returned from theatre his face was very swollen.  The surgeon managed to remove all the tooth and had to take some of the bone away.  He could not open his mouth for a month and could not eat very much.  He lost 2 stone in weight.  Touch wood, all has been fine since then. 

      Did you have a look at HSA?  You can recover some of the costs of treatment.

      There are many good dentists out there, the problem is finding them and then hope that they are taking on new patients.

      Good luck with your search.

      Best wishes



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