Dental repair kits, available in high-street chemists and frequently even ‘pound shops’ are taking the place of proper dental care for an increasing number in the United Kingdom as the cost and accessibility of ‘free at the point of use’ dental care becomes difficult for many families.
Although spread of the practice is hard to quantify as information about DIY dentistry is largely anecdotal, The Guardian reports that a remarkable 250,000 of these filling kits are sold in the UK every year. While some will be put off going to an NHS dentist by the increasing difficulty of getting registered with one – especially in areas which have experienced rapid recent population growth – others will be dettered with cost.
Although an examination at an NHS dentist is only £18.50, Karen Coates of the Dental Health Foundation says the inability of some to effectively run their own lives makes this a prohibitively high cost. She said: “The majority of people would think these prices are relatively reasonable if you need work doing.
“It’s about prioritising £50. They probably would go and get their nails done or their hair, and don’t consider that the dentist is high enough on their need list, whereas for other people it is a priority to go regularly to the dentist”.
Another person resorting to DIY dentistry in the Guardian report couldn’t afford to see a dentist because they had their benefits docked for arriving late to a Job Centre appointment, and spent their remaining money on a television licence and phone bills. Another woman, a ‘casual prostitute’ had “lost most of her teeth through being attacked, falling and simply struggling to find somewhere to clean her teeth”.
The prospect of back-street dentistry returning to the UK was prophetically foreseen over twenty years ago by British surreal parody-news programme The Day Today. The show was written by Chris Morris, who’s creations have also lampooned many aspects of British politics and daily life, including Islamic terrorism, drug abuse, and paedophiles.