British dentistry is in a rotten state | Letters

I read Keren Levy’s article (Dentists would not treat my toothache – now my health has been wrecked for ever, 20 April) with great interest. I sympathise, having experienced the serious inadequacies of British dental practice for nearly 20 years and the constant excruciating pain that can result from it – not to mention the ongoing systemic issues that completely impact life.

To a great extent, British dentistry is taught to pass on the most serious of conditions, especially jawbone infections, which are usually caused by its own practices. This places patients in a cycle of misdiagnosis, unlimited excuses and pitiful nonsense to support this stance.

I have experienced this for nearly two decades, and but for the help from two dental surgeons and my GP, who were willing to act where most wouldn’t, it is doubtful that I would be alive today. I still suffer the consequences of this self-protection policy, which condemns so many people to a life of constant pain and ill health.

The problem goes right to the heart and to the top of the dental establishment, where the default position is to never treat anything out of the ordinary – or risk being struck off. This risk-aversion policy can be found from the everyday high-street dentist to the bodies that represent practitioners.

Such a policy is contrary to all true ethics that should guide our health practitioners, where the overriding policy must be the wellbeing of the patient, not the fear of litigation or being struck off. One unfortunate result of this is that most dental surgeons have little or no experience in treating jawbone infections, and as such readily refer the patient to other practices or institutions, where the merry-go-round of passing the buck can go on for years.

The sad thing is that jaw infections are not uncommon and many patients are left in a void of pain and inaction. There is something rotten in the state of British dentistry.
Ian Moutter
Coldstream, Berwickshire

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