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Brits resort to pulling own teeth

  • Story Highlights
  • Six percent of English people surveyed have resorted to "DIY dentistry"
  • One respondent said they had pulled out 14 teeth with a pair of pliers
  • Three-quarters of patients forced to pay for private treatment
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Some English people have resorted to pulling out their own teeth because they cannot find -- or cannot afford -- a dentist, a major study has revealed.

Six percent of those surveyed in an English study said they had resorted to dental "self-treatment."

Six percent of those questioned in a survey of 5,000 patients admitted they had resorted to self-treatment using pliers and glue, the UK's Press Association reported.

England has a two-tier dental care system with some dentists offering publicly subsidized treatment through the National Health Service and others performing more expensive private work.

But more than three-quarters of those polled said they had been forced to pay for private treatment because they had been unable to find an NHS dentist. Almost a fifth said they had refused dental treatment because of the cost.

One respondent in Lancashire, northern England, claimed to have extracted 14 of their own teeth with a pair of pliers. In Liverpool, one of those collecting data for the survey interviewed three people who had pulled out their own teeth in one morning.

"I took most of my teeth out in the shed with pliers. I have one to go," another respondent wrote.

Others said they had fixed broken crowns using glue to avoid costly dental work.

Valerie Halsworth, 64, told British television's GMTV she had removed seven of her own teeth using her husband's pliers when her toothache became unbearable and she was unable to find an NHS dentist willing to treat her.

Halsworth admitted that the first extraction had been "excruciatingly painful." But she added: "It got that painful that I just had to do something... When you have taken a tooth out... the pain has gone."

Sharon Grant, chair of the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health, which commissioned the survey, said: "These findings indicate that the NHS dental system is letting many patients down very badly.

"Where NHS dental services are available, people are happy with the quality of treatment provided but many find the NHS fee system confusing and expensive, with some patients taking out loans to pay for treatment or more worryingly taking matters into their own hands." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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