Why is it so impossible to get an NHS dentist round here?

Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Healthcare in this country is generally pretty accessible.

That is, until it involves your teeth, and until you’re in Norfolk. Then it’s everyone for themselves.

Just take antiques dealer David Spoors on Magdalen Street, who was forced to yank out 18 of his own pearly whites after searching both in agony and in vain for someone to do the job for him. Professionally, you know.

It seems you only get to have nice teeth in Norfolk if you can afford to pay ludicrous private prices — making the whole thing audaciously Victorian.

In fact, maybe it’s even worse, because at least in Victorian times the assumption was if you were poor you didn’t deserve nice teeth.

But here in the 21st century, poor people have been (perhaps) misguidedly led to believe nice teeth can be their preserve too. If that’s unreasonable, someone needs to let us know so we can manage our expectations.

There’s scandalously insufficient numbers of dentists per head of population in Norfolk anyway, but even among surgeries which do have NHS contracts, very few are currently taking on NHS patients.

I’m genuinely having sleepless nights trying to get one of the ridiculously-coveted slots, and somehow relieve the dull, constant ache I have in my jaw thanks to my slowly-emerging wisdom teeth.

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I understand dentists are in a bit of an awkward predicament. The NHS is doubling-down on its targets for dental contract holders. If dentists fail — and indeed some feel they are being set up to — they face stark financial penalties.

In Mulbarton, parents may have to pay up to £200 a year for their child’s dental treatment as the surgery admits it won’t be renewing its NHS contract due to some “bureaucratic” beef with the NHS.

But whatever that beef is, they need to sort it out ASAP.

The ones caught up in the middle of this are your average, every day Norfolk citizens, who just want their teeth checked, and don’t want to have to break the bank for the privilege.