A DIY dentist has been forced to pull out his wife’s tooth with pliers after she was denied an emergency dental appointment amid the coronavirus lockdown.
Stomach-churning footage shows Paul Cutting, 71, take matters into his own hands to yank out partner Karen's aching molar.
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Mr Cutting, from Canvey Island, Essex, was told that his 56-year-old wife’s condition was not severe enough for an emergency referral after calls to his usual dentist went unanswered.
All routine NHS and private dentistry appointments have been scrapped amid the coronavirus pandemic.
NHS England is setting up urgent care hubs but has faced criticism over delays due to PPE shortages.
The retired engineer said he was left with no choice but to perform the dentistry himself.
Mr Cutting, whose wife is profoundly deaf, said: “It was a desperation move – we couldn’t get an emergency dentist appointment and I didn’t want to take Karen to hospital.”
“It would be like putting your head in the lion’s mouth.”
“I could see how much pain she was in. Painkillers weren’t touching it and she couldn’t eat.”
“After a few sleepless nights, she asked me to take it out.”
"It was a little bit loose, so I told her I could do it as long as she could stand the pain.”
Paul performed the DIY extraction with the help of the couple’s housemate Janet – and a couple of alcoholic drinks.
He said: “I gave Karen a couple of rum and cokes, rubbed clove oil all over and pulled it out.”
“I was quite shocked it came out with one yank – it was like a brazil nut.”
“Her face was swollen but it went down after a couple of hours.”
“She’s been fine ever since.”
Paul, who once pulled out his own tooth because of a morbid fear of dentists, warned others not to follow suit.
He said: “I did exactly the same thing once, so I knew how Karen would feel.”
“I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else unless it was needs must. I certainly wouldn’t do it to anyone else but I could see how much pain she was in.”
The British Dental Association (BDA) say over half of dentists in England are lacking the right PPE to treat patients during the coronavirus pandemic at urgent dental care hubs.
The organisation, which represents UK dentists, are warning that individuals with urgent problems are now having to "take matters into their own hands.”
On top of this, two thirds of dentists at sites in England reported shortages of FFP3 masks and gowns and 58 per cent of dentists said they do not feel fully protected at their sites.
Dentists say PPE is necessary because they can be as close as 20cm from patients' mouths and are therefore at a high risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19.
BDA Chair Mick Armstrong blasted the Government for putting dentists at risk, pointing out that the scale of these shortages has led some dentists in the South East to actively explore alternative sources of PPE, including non-medical equipment, such as scuba masks.
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He warned: "Many dentists have been redeployed, only to find their hands tied by a critical shortage of kit, and delays in training and fit-testing.”
"The depth of these problems will fatally undermine any progress on getting this network up and running.”
The chief dental officer for England, Sara Hurley, says there are now 219 open hubs "to provide care for those who need it" and that "every hub has the relevant PPE and work is ongoing to ensure that supply is maintained."
These urgent dental care (UDC) hubs are designed to provide emergency dental treatment for patients with urgent needs, such as cracked teeth, gum infections and facial swelling.
Patients needing emergency treatment are meant to be referred to a UDC hub after a telephone consultation with their local dentist.
The BDA said a third of sites remained closed.
Chairman Mick Armstrong added: “Until officials sort this out it’s inevitable we’ll see more people reaching for the pliers.”
Dentists are strongly urging people against any patient doing their own dentistry – and following in Paul and Karen’s footsteps.
Dr Bashar Al-Naher, founder of the Care Dental practices, said: "There are a number of complications that can arise from dental treatment even within dental surgeries whilst being treated by dental professionals.”
"These are complications that we have been extensively trained to deal with, so to perform DIY dentistry, people are exposing themselves to an even greater risk of complications with no knowledge of how to deal with them making this categorically inadvisable.”
An NHS spokesperson said “All dental practices were asked to work with regional teams to set up Urgent Dental Care hubs and more than 200 of these hubs are already open so people can get the dental care they need.”
The slow roll-out of PPE in England has seen millions left without access to urgent care across whole regions.