As the rising cost of dental care makes life restrictive for some people, thousands in the UK and around the world are turning to DIY dentistry in a bid to save cash.
So expensive is a visit to the dentist in Britain these days that many people are opting for DIY kits, which can be purchased from drugstores, to give themselves fillings, crowns, and even caps.
Emma Richardson from the Star Project said, “DIY dentistry is fairly common round here. They sell a lot of those first aid kits – you can buy them in Boots and Asda as well, and you’ve got people taking care of their whole family’s teeth with them.”
The Star Project, which is a church-based community organization, found many of their clients opting for DIY dentist kits, Richardson explained.
“There’s a mixture of reasons. Some people only have pay-as-you-go phones – if they run out of money, they can’t make calls. They have to wait until the community centre is open at 9.30am to use the phone, by which time it’s too late to book a [doctor’s] appointment. Or they feel embarrassed to fill out the free prescription form and prefer to get help from friends who don’t judge them as scroungers. People will maybe take half a course of a drug and keep some of them in case something comes back. If one of the neighbours or friends needs them, they’ll help out.”
While no one knows exactly how many of the DIY kits are purchased annually, one large seller of the products, DenTek, sells around 250,000 per year, although it’s unsure how many of those actually get used. It’s also unclear if these DIY kits are effective.
According to the Department of Health in Britain, more people than ever are opting for the do-it-at-home option when it comes to their teeth.
“Official figures show that more people than ever are getting NHS dental treatment, which is completely free for almost everyone receiving income-based benefits and subsidised for low earners.”
John Wildman, a professor of health economics at Newcastle University, said that statistics on the subject are shady at best
“People at the lower end of the distribution curve – on big housing estates in the north-east, for instance – are effectively completely unreported. They don’t take part in surveys and they don’t go into GP surgeries. Which is why you have a situation where people in the north-east have gaps in their teeth and are resorting to DIY dentistry,” he said.
[Image credit otowadentalcare.com]