Family of disabled girl issue desperate plea for dental help

Bonnie Large who has Angelman Syndrome, and is struggling with pain, possibly from her teeth, pictur

Bonnie Large who has Angelman Syndrome, and is struggling with pain, possibly from her teeth, pictured with her mum, Andrea. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

A Norwich family has issued a further plea to help their disabled daughter get dental treatment, saying she now struggles to eat due to the pain.

Bonnie Large,  24, from Norwich, has Angleman Syndrome, a genetic condition that affects the nervous system and causes severe physical and learning disabilities, meaning she cannot communicate her pain. 

Her parents Paul and Andrea, of Ruskin Road, spoke to this paper three weeks ago about their concerns over her tooth pain and fears it could be weeks before she is treated, even though she is now struggling to eat food. 

The family has been pushing for Bonnie to be treated under sedation after a number of appointments, calls and emails to Siskin Dental Centre, in Bowthorpe, which is run by Community Dental Service (CDS)

They said this week they have been told to have Bonnie referred through the ear, nose and throat service, but are concerned that she cannot eat and has been relying on pain relief for three months.

Mr Large said: "It could be weeks. We cannot go on like this. 

"We are hoping someone comes forward and helps us out. We know it's not her ears, they need to get her in for her teeth.

"She has not been herself for weeks. It's unbearable to see her like this."

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A CDS spokesman said in instances such as this an investigation is carried out with non-dental and other health colleagues under general anesthetic to establish the cause of pain and keep families informed at all times.

They said: "This is so the patient only has to undergo general anaesthetic, with associated risks, once.

"We always try to ensure our patients are placed on GA waiting lists and seen as quickly as possible, expediting this where we can, to alleviate pain as quickly as possible."

Dental practices still have in place infection control measures and can see around 60pc of the patients they did before the pandemic.

The family have also spoken to Norwich South MP Clive Lewis who said it was "beyond comprehension" people are left to suffer in the 21st century.

He said: "The scandalous disregard of the needs of Bonnie and thousands like her is the consequence of a perfect storm of wilful long-term neglect of the dental care system and failures on Covid." 

Disabled charity's concerns

Disabled people have been disproportionately more affected by the pandemic when trying to access necessary medical treatment, a regional charity has said.  

Equal Lives, a disability rights organisation based in Norfolk and Suffolk, said its members had seen when trying to get dental treatment there were additional challenges for disabled people as many could not get an NHS dentist and had to go private.  

Kimberly Myhill, from Equal Lives, said: "It is also problematic in that most dentists and dental support staff have not had disability equality training or have been  trained on how to meet the dental needs of someone with a complex set of impairments. 

 “We would like to see more training for dentists and dental staff on making their services accessible to disabled people, and more medical training on how dental issues can affect or be affected by other health conditions.”