Patient 'insulted and upset' after being turned away by dentist for being 'too fat for the chair'

Mr Bottomley had been a patient at Dental Lounge in Glynneath for a decade. Credit: Media Wales

A patient who was turned away by a dentist for being "too fat for the chair" said he has been left feeling "insulted and upset".

David Bottomley, from Penderyn, said he was "gobsmacked" when he was told he couldn't be seen for his appointment at Dental Lounge in Glynneath due to his weight.

The 65-year-old retired pub landlord, who needed two crowns replacing, had been a regular patient there for a decade, but claims the surgery then told him he wouldn't be able to come back because of the way he spoke to staff in retaliation.

It is not uncommon for dentists to refuse patients treatment due to their weight, with the British Dental Association explaining that risk assessments of the weight limit of dental chairs are always carried out.

The British Dental Association says risk assessments are carried in dental practices regarding the weight that dental chairs can hold Credit: PA

A spokeswoman for the body said: "It is important that you find out the maximum weight that your dental chair can take (normally about 20 stone) so that you can speak with patients who you think may be over this weight."

Dental Lounge in Glynneath said patients deemed too heavy for the chair are directed to the Swansea Bay Community Bariatric Dental Service instead. It said staff "acted in line with health and safety guidance".But Mr Bottomley said his case should have been better dealt with and he is surprised that "in 2023 a dentist can't cater for people who are overweight".

He also said he wishes the dentist had told him prior to his appointment that he wouldn't be able to be seen so he could make other arrangements.

"It took me two hours to get to the dentist because I have to get two buses from Penderyn to Glynneath," he said.

"I sat down after getting there and began filling in an app about myself. About five minutes later while I was still filling it out she called me over and said 'unfortunately sir you're too big and our chairs will not be able to cope with your weight'.

"I found it insulting. I did become angry and I did raise my voice, but I wasn't abusive and I didn't swear, but the dentist came out and told me I needed to leave and I'd be struck off the list.

"I thought, 'who do they think they are? Telling me I'm too fat and then removing me from their list'. I did say I was angry, it was a shock to the system to be told something like that.

"Is it my problem that their chairs don't work? I've been waiting for the appointment for a while because I had a problem with my two crowns. My crowns fell out after I'd been eating a pear.

Mr Bottomley wanted to share his experience to raise awareness.

"I also want to tell people to enquire with their dentist if they now have the same policy regarding weight of patients, because it's wasted my time," he said.

"I wish I'd have been told much earlier. It's not like they didn’t know me. I've been this weight for 15 or 20 years and I've been going to the same dentist for ten years."

Mr Bottomley said he has become stressed by his removal from the practice list given current waiting times for NHS dental treatment.

"I know it takes a long time to get back onto a list after you’ve been removed and I am worried about that," he said.

"I need urgent dental care. I wasn't rude to anyone and I really feel unfairly treated and sad by what has happened."A spokesman for Glynneath Dental Lounge said: "While we cannot comment on Mr Bottomley's case in detail, we can offer assurances that we acted in line with agreed health and safety guidance.

"Chairs used to treat patients have weight limits, which means it would be unsafe to use them to provide dental care to any patient who is over this limit.

"We are sorry to hear that Mr Bottomley has raised these concerns, but we are more than happy to discuss it with him further if he would like to contact us directly."

The spokeswoman for the British Dental Association added: "This can be a very difficult topic to approach with patients. Sensitivity is obviously vital when discussing a patient’s weight and should always been done in a private setting.

"Dental professionals are right to be concerned about the health and safety aspects of treating obese patients, as they have both a duty of care to all patients and a legal obligation under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to operate in a safe environment."It is important that patients understand they may have to be referred for their own safety. It may be difficult to move a patient in a medical emergency or get them out the building quickly safely should there be an emergency. Not least, should the chair break and the patient suffers an injury.

"Dentists would be justified in referring patients to a specialist unit for treatment if they cannot be treated safely in the practice but will still need to make sure the patient has access to a reasonable alternative for their dental care."