Bournemouth family facing intense pain, broken teeth and sleepless nights in bid to find NHS dentist

Alexandra Korbey and her family are facing a dental nightmare as the clan struggle to find an NHS dentist. Credit: ITV News Meridian

A mother from Bournemouth says she has learnt to live with broken teeth as her family - featuring three generations - struggles to find an NHS dentist.

Alexandra Korbey suffers from broken teeth and her children also have tooth problems.

Two of them aged 14 and nine have never been to a dentist.

She said: "My oldest boy, he's 18 and he's also autistic so for him to see a dentist was a very difficult experience.

"When he finally got the dentist, he said, 'either you rip my tooth out or I'll do it myself' because he was in a lot of pain."

  • Alexandra's son said he would "rip" his teeth out himself

Her daughter, Theresa, has a large hole in a broken tooth which has impacted her education.

The 16-year-old said: "I was sluggish during the majority of my lessons, barely being able to stay awake from having sleepless nights with the pain.

"I would miss very important lessons for going to emergency appointments that couldn't have been postponed or put any earlier.

"My confidence was lowered because I was so tired and eventually I just stopped caring and just wanted the pain to stop."

She said she was in "intense" pain unless she was "highly dosed up".

Ms Korbey's son - 14-year-old Gabriel - was born with fused front teeth but as he grew up, only one adult tooth appeared.

It has affected his confidence badly and he would love something done about it, but he's never been to a dentist. 

Ms Korbey said: "I think it's very sad because we like to try and do what's best for our children and make sure that they are happy and healthy and being unable to make sure that they are healthy in that respect is a very difficult thing."

She added: "Being unable to see a dentist means that when we experience dental pain we have to take many painkillers and just try and manage on a daily basis until we can get an emergency appointment through NHS 111 which isn't always easy and isn't always on the day and sometimes you have to travel quite a distance to go and visit the emergency dentist."

Grandmother Angie has her own stories after losing her NHS dentist during the pandemic.

She said: "I had six teeth left on the top, four of which were just wiggling. Very painful, difficult to eat."

With help from friends, Angie eventually had dentures fitted, but the situation has been very frustrating for the family.

Asked whether she would ever consider going private, Ms Korbey said: "Not in a million years. As part of what the government says is a low-income family, private dentist treatment is just something I will never be able to afford.

"It's either wait for things to get better or just carry on as we are and when things get that desperate we phone and try and get an emergency appointment."

There is a lack of dentists working in the NHS and dentists blame the government for not making the work financially attractive.

Eddie Crouch, chair of the British Dental Association, said: "I think many of my colleagues have given up waiting for the significant reform that's actually needed to keep them working in the NHS...

"Demand is huge. We think about 11 million people at the moment are trying to get NHS care and that's probably going to get worse with the number of dentists that are leaving on a weekly basis from the NHS.

"We need a contract that's attractive to encourage that workforce to stay and at the moment we have a significant retention problem not only with dentists but other members of the dental team."

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