Around six months ago a chip broke off one of my molar teeth. Some weeks after that a larger piece was leveraged off it. I am basically missing a whole crown (I didn’t even know any dental anatomy until now).
I haven’t been able to do anything about it yet for a few reasons, the first one being the preoccupation with the OCD. My days were taken up with trying to get the basic tasks done to stay alive, before I could figure out how to see a dentist which isn’t easy here. I knew it was just a matter of time before it began hurting. It’s not nice because until the last few years I was always very careful with dental hygiene— brushing my teeth three times a day after eating, and flossing once a day.
Living in the car with all the OCD really put dental hygiene on the backseat. Living in that shared house wasn’t much different since I couldn’t use the bathroom and didn’t want to leave my room. I had my own system but you end up using it sparingly. And even once I’ve had the freedom to brush my teeth in the new place, what usually happens is that by the time I’m in a frame of mind to think about it, I already need to eat again anyway.
There wasn’t any pain from the tooth until a few months ago and it only ached slightly when drinking cold/hot drinks. But in the last few weeks there’s been a lot more pain and I’ve had to eat with one side of my mouth, and there’s been extreme pain sometimes whenever I forgot. So a few weeks ago I finally was able to look into how I go about getting dental treatment since I’d previously tried registering at a dentist months ago, but what happens is that every dentist you phone up just tells you that they aren’t accepting patients.
This is just a symptom of the massive decline in public services there’s been in the UK for the last 12 years. I used to be able to register at a dentist easily, but now they are all full up. (Once you’re registered, there’s no problem). My multiple relocations have worked against me.
So all that’s left is ’emergency’ appointments, which some dentists offer. The process of finding one is to first phone the national NHS 111 number, who then give you the details for a local emergency dental care phone line. Once you phone them and explain the issue, you get a callback from a nurse (up to five hours later) who then gives you details for a dentist which might have an emergency slot available. If it’s too late in the day they give you details for a dentist you can phone in the morning.
So far I’ve called three dentists from this process and each time they didn’t have any space available, and recommended to call back the next day.
The only positive is that the local dental care phone line is keeping track of my progress with this, and they can see how long I’ve been waiting. One of them is personally familiar with me now from having spoken to me a couple of times, and they express empathy. I even had to explain one time how the OCD had prevented me from following up a referral, and that I’m dealing with a lot of things. That really helps to feel less ignored.
Anyway, this is the general state of healthcare in the UK at the moment. It’s really dangerous to get ill.