MP's oral health call after Norwich man pulled out 18 teeth

Question time event at Notre Dame High School, Norwich.MP Clive Lewis.Picture: Nick Butcher

Clive Lewis is MP for Norwich South. - Credit: Nick Butcher

People in Norwich face extreme delays in getting an appointment for dental care, the MP for Norwich South has said.

Clive Lewis spoke in a Westminster Hall debate on oral health and dentistry in England on Tuesday morning.

He said: "For many months now, my team and I have tried tirelessly to get help for people in Norwich desperate for dental care.

"They face extreme delays in getting an appointment, if they can secure one at all. And then they are faced with prohibitive treatment costs, even for NHS services.

"Some have been turned away despite being in pain. Others are told that the treatment they need can only be done at a private clinic, for thousands of pounds which they simply don't have."

It comes after this newspaper reported a Norwich antiques dealer was forced to yank out 18 of his own teeth after suffering “unbearable” agony as he searched in vain for a dentist.

David Spoors, who runs History Box, in Magdalen Street, took the horrific decision to remove his own teeth after receding gums left him in terrible pain.

But despite desperately calling every dental surgery he could find there was no one that could help. So finally he decided the only answer was looping string around the teeth and using brute force to get them out.

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British Dental Association chairman Eddie Crouch said: "Access to dentistry was in crisis long before Covid but in the last year has seen cases that have no place in a wealthy, 21st century nation."

Eddie Crouch, chairman of the British Dental Association, said "DIY dentistry belongs in the Victorian era."

Eddie Crouch, chairman of the British Dental Association, said "DIY dentistry belongs in the Victorian era." - Credit: © Simon Gentleman

Even prior to the pandemic an estimated one in 10 people had their dental needs unmet, equivalent to around two million people.

Asked what he thinks needs to be done to tackle the healthcare crisis, Mr Lewis said: "Right now, practices need support to enable them to open safely and see more patients.

"Longer-term, we need dentistry and oral health services to be provided equitably. The government has an opportunity in the upcoming Health and Social Care Bill to do just that.

"I hope it does so – for the sake of my constituents."