Plymouth teenager left with lifelong scar after he was unable to see an NHS dentist

Watch Sam Blackledge's report

A teenage boy from Plymouth who had to undergo emergency surgery after being unable to access an NHS dentist says he has been scarred for life.

17-year-old Jay Connaughton developed an abscess in his mouth which worsened to the point where he ended up at Derriford Hospital.

As a new report says NHS dentistry is at its most perilous point in its history, Jay's mother says she fears other youngsters could end up in the same position.

Jay had an abscess in his mouth which worsened over the past few months. Credit: Jay Connaughton

Jay said: "I started having problems, I left it for a while because I was trying to get hold of a dentist, but I couldn't get through. So I left it for for about two months.

"I kept contacting emergency dentists, I was probably on hold for about three hours a day. When I finally got through, they took out the tooth instead of the abscess. My face started swelling up, couldn't eat, couldn't sleep."

Jay will need follow-up treatment and has been left with a scar. Credit: Jay Connaughton

Jay's mum, Lisa Emmens, said: "He couldn't be put to sleep because his mouth was so swollen, they couldn't actually put the tubes down to the back of his throat, so he had to be heavily sedated but couldn't be put completely under for the operation.

"He was in (hospital) for three to four days because it was constantly draining. He was on a strong course of antibiotics in there, and then came home and was on another five-day course of antibiotics when he came home as well."

New research shows most dental practices are not accepting new NHS patients, forcing most people to go private or - as in Jay's case - seek out emergency help when something goes wrong.Lisa said: "If he'd had a routine dentist operation, it would have been picked up initially and his tooth could have been saved in the first place.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg. You've got children coming up that are going to need dentist appointments that just aren't going to get them, and they will be losing teeth unnecessarily."

Jay says he is still getting used to life with his scar. Credit: Jay Connaughton

Jay's injury is healing well, but he will need follow-up treatment and he has been left with a lifelong scar.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: "We are making progress to boost NHS dental services and compared to the previous year 1.7 million more adults and 800,000 more children are receiving NHS dental care.

“We fund more than £3billion of NHS dentistry a year and are taking preventative measures to improve oral health, such as expanding water fluoridation schemes. We have also announced plans to increase dental training places by 40 per cent and recently ran a consultation to better utilise the skills of dental hygienists and therapists.

“Further measures to improve access and increase the number of NHS dentists through our dental recovery plan will be set out shortly."