In Britain we’re seeing an epidemic. One borne out of rising costs and limited availability: DIY dentistry. Great Britain has had nationalized health care since 1948, as a direct result of World War II’s devastation and the need for a welfare state. The NHS is funded through general taxation, a goal that liberals in our country have been striving for.
We joke about Britons’ bad teeth being a result of public health care. Yet there seems to be some truth to this. Up to 1/5 of people have given up on going to the dentist and nearly a 1/3 don’t have an NHS dentist.
Consumers are being deterred by the soaring costs of dental treatment. There’s also a persistent issue of availability: often, patients are put on long waiting lists. For the dentists, more complex procedures have decreased because dentists feel they’re not making enough money for these time and energy consuming procedures. Nearly 500,000 patients have been incorrectly told by their dentists that they must pay for private treatment, even when those procedures are available through NHS. It represents one of the fundamental problems of public health care: it’s determined on a far too general and sweeping level.
Because of this, up to 200,000 people attempting DIY dentistry risk seriously injuring themselves. Stories abound of people using super glue on crowns, tearing out teeth with pliers, all with horrifying consequences. Still, some numbers could be hyperbole as NHS Dental Chief Dr. Barry Cockcroft believes.
For others, it’s a matter of fear. Going to the dentist has become a time-honored phobia, but to choose doing-it-yourself would, one should think, induce greater fear. Despite this, there are sites that offer some constructive suggestions.
There are basic tips like which painkillers are best for minor toothaches. There are also more substantial pointers such as how to re-cement lost crowns or veneers using home kits like Dentek Thin Set and Fixodent. Other products like Temparin help in replacing filling material (though like the name suggests, temporarily).
In the end, however, when it comes to the dirty work—pulling teeth—under no circumstances is DIY the right move. One dentist even had an anecdote about a fellow dentist who did work on himself. Not only did he do it in surgery, rather than at home, he used the right tools and methods, and still botched the operation. He lost several teeth as a result.
Really, the only DIY dental technique that should be practiced is brushing, flossing and the occasional Advil if it’s not a throbbing, consistent toothache. For the ultimate DIY tooth removal, check out Tom Hanks in Cast Away…remember, he uses an ice skate blade and a stone. Pure survival dentistry.
Dr. Mike Mavrostomos is passionate and top-quality comprehensive care dentist located in Bedminster, NJ whose continual pursuit of education and state-of-the-art dentistry has led to his being recognized as one of New Jersey’s Top Dentists by the New Jersey Top-Docs committee. Check out our website, reviews, Facebook page Connect with us and learn!