Are Community Health Dentists sacrificing your teeth?

I have always wondered why so many low income people are missing teeth. With free dental clinics available I couldn’t understand why so many people were missing teeth. Now I have no doubt some people were happy to get them pulled out but how many were given no choice.

Why have I come up with this conclusion? A friend of mine on the pension card with severe health problems booked in for a cracked tooth at her local community health clinic. She had spent around $1500 two years ago getting a root canal and now the tooth had broken. It was a horizontal crack (not vertical where the tooth needs to be removed). She asked what the options were and was told “all I can do is pull it out”.

This was true – not because the tooth couldn’t be saved – but because that was the only option offered at the free clinic. With no choice she accepted. Although the dentist stated he thought it could come out with no problems he broke it off and then stated he did not have the ability to remove it. He sought help from the senior dentist who stated he was too busy but it needed doing in 4 days.

On being returned to reception they offered the next appointment in 6 weeks. My friend refused to leave until a closer appointment was made. It was for 10 days but was moved to 14 later. On arriving for the appointment the senior dentist stated due her health and excessive bleeding he did not feel confident to remove the tooth so suggested getting it done by a Oral and maxillofacial surgeon that he recommended. So 14 days wasted she now rang to find out her dentist had forgotten to mention she needed to find over a thousand dollars towards the surgery.

So they have destroyed her tooth without even the option of repair, left her to suffer unnecessarily for 14 days and now has to wait several weeks more and find a thousand dollars when she cannot work. What is the point of a free dental service that dumps you on the street when things go wrong? Neither political party has done anything about dental for decades and it is time for a change.

What has been your experience with the Dental Health Services?

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