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Anger over West Norfolk seven-year-old’s long wait for dentist

A seven-year-old with a troublesome tooth has been unable to get dental treatmentfor six months.

Restrictions on dentists’ working practices due to Covid-19 have meant that Jessica Brown’s issue - an extension of her gum with the mobile milk tooth still firmly attached - is not seen as a priority.

That’s because it is not bleeding heavily or causing Jessica any pain but her father, John, has become extremely frustrated at not being able to see a dentist for such a long period.

Jessica Brown with the milk tooth which is causing issues. Picture: SUBMITTED
Jessica Brown with the milk tooth which is causing issues. Picture: SUBMITTED

He called it an “absolutely shocking” situation.

“Nobody wanted to know,” Mr Brown said. “I was worried about the fact it could potentially infect her. I was told it could abcess and if it did, it could abcess the adult tooth too.”

Eating and drinking has become more difficult for Jessica and her anxiety over the tooth is increasing.

Norfolk Local Dental Committee says although it could not comment on this particular case, it understands the family’s frustration but appointments are still so limited that only the most serious cases are being seen.

Jessica, who lives in Reffley, was registered with a Lynn town centre practice when the tooth first became loose about a week into lockdown in March.

Knowing that dental practices had vastly restricted their service due to the pandemic, Mr Brown held off trying to get Jessica seen.

He said: “Normally, a child’s tooth is left hanging by a thread but after a couple of weeks this wasn’t doing that so I tried to get her an appointment.”

Staff at Jessica’s practice said they were unable to offer an appointment and Mr Brown claims they refused to look at photos of her.

It started a chain of events in which Mr Brown called the emergency dentist, only to be cut off after waiting more than an hour in a queue, then NHS 111 which advised trying another Lynn practice. It too was unable to help.

Eventually, he managed to get Jessica seen at a new practice in Marham but by this time she was anxious about the tooth being manipulated and was referred to the Special Care Dentistry Service in Norfolk and Waveney.

Mr Brown said: “After five weeks with no contact, I was told there were no appointments available and we would be contacted in due course.

“I was not happy with that and fortunately they were able to rearrange things to see her on September 25th.

“That’s an appointment to have it assessed, not for treatment.”

Jessica returned to school this week and fortunately has not suffered any teasing over the tooth - in fact some of her peers think it is “cool”, according to her dad.

Nick Stolls, secretary ofNorfolk Local Dental Committee, which represents the interests of dentists, says restrictions on working practices effectively tied their hands.

“Some patients and their families will feel that that some of their issues are not being addressed as quickly as they would like. It’s very difficult to see how we can satisfy everybody,” he said.

“During lockdown, many of my colleagues were unable to see people that had been long-term patients and felt a sense of helplessness.

“We are a long way off getting back to what we were used to doing before lockdown.”

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