Dad waits five years to see a dentist and spends weeks in agony before ‘brilliant’ charity steps in

By Staff 6 Min Read

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Mark Thompson, 43, had been struggling to get an appointment and he was finding it ‘difficult to pay for food, let alone a dentist’

A dad told how he waited five years to see a dentist, after finally getting help in a mobile clinic touring areas worst hit by the treatment crisis.

Mark Thompson said a lack of NHS practices and soaring costs have left him unable to access vital tooth care. The 43-year-old was one of more than 100 people on a waiting list for free checks and care in the charity clinic that travelled around Newcastle yesterday. It treats adults and children in desperate need and often in agony.

Mark, of nearby Wallsend, North Tyneside, has had weeks of sleepless nights due to severe toothache. After his care at Byker, he said: “They had to take the roots of a couple of teeth out. But it is a relief to escape the pain.

“I last saw a dentist five years ago and that is because it is so difficult to get an appointment. I lost my job about three years ago. I have struggled to pay for food, let alone a dentist.”

Latest figures show a shocking 96.8% of dentists in the North East have closed their lists to new patients. The clinic is run by Dentaid, which said its five-day visit to Newcastle is the longest it has stayed in one place. It used more than 50 ­volunteers.

Appointments were filled within just two hours, Newcastle ­Foodbank said. By today, more than 200 adults and children will have had check-ups, treatment and emergency care, including extractions.

Foodbank welfare manager Carole Rowland said they contacted Dentaid because the cost of living crisis had left so many unable to pay for a dentist. She added: “We’ve had people coming to us in agony, people needing fillings. We decided we had to help. When people are fighting to pay for food, they forgo treatment.” Mark described the care at the clinic as “brilliant”. He added: “There will be help down the road if I have problems.”

Newcastle University paediatric dentist Dr Greig Taylor said he is seeing more children with tooth decay. He added: “It is really hard when you’re taking out 10, 12 or 15 teeth from one child, some as young as two or three.”

The Mirror launched a petition demanding access to NHS dentists for all, which has been signed by hundreds of thousands of people. Keir Starmer praised our campaign, but the Labour leader said: “You shouldn’t have to do this.”

The Department of Health and Social Care claimed the Dental Recovery Plan meant 2.5 million extra appointments would be created this year.

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