• Dental Phobia Support

    Welcome! This is an online support group for anyone who is has a severe fear of the dentist or dental treatment. Please note that this is NOT a general dental problems or health anxiety forum! You can find a list of them here.

    Register now to access all the features of the forum.

Really angry with my NHS dental surgery!



Oct 11, 2010
Devon, UK
I have already posted a few threads about the problem I am having with one of my molars, but now I want to update as I am furious with my stupid dentist!

I have my 6 month check up booked for next week, but I phoned up about a month and a half ago to bring the appt forward as I had a "niggle" in my tooth, nothing terrible, but I knew something was up. The (not very helpful) receptionist informed me that they had no "normal" appts available before my check-up (in a month and a half, nothing available, how can that be?), I raised my eyebrows but didn't say anything. I was told to call if the pain got worse and I could have an emergency appt.

So fast forward to last week, the pain starts getting worse and over the bank holiday weekend (typical) it starts really hurting, I panic a bit, but take co-codamol and reassure myself I can ring on Tuesday (today) and get an emergency appt. I call them today and the receptionist informs me that they have no emergency appts as they have too many dentists off work! I mean, what the hell????

I think she felt sorry for me (and was rather apologetic when i told her I had asked for an earlier appt a month and a half ago), so she squeezed me in on Thursday afternoon. I have reluctantly accepted, but explained that I would not be able to have any work done as I need to pick my daughter up from school within an hour of the appt time, but at least they can assess me. This means that I will still be in pain for the next bank holiday weekend as there are no other NHS dentists in my small town and I live in a rural area which means I don't really have any alternatives.

I am so upset because I really worry about my dental health even though it is generally good, as well as being scared of dental treatment. I am having to eat on one side of my mouth as my tooth is quite tender, however, I am lucky that the pain has calmed down today and i have not had to take any painkillers so far, but the tooth has become VERY sensitive to cold. Having to wait so long is making me into a nervous wreck. I have decided that after i have had this problem dealt with I am going to try and find a dental surgery in one of the neighbouring towns despite them being a good 25 minutes drive away from here.

Is this sort of shoddy service the norm for NHS dentists these days? Because the fact is, if I hadn't had to wait over a month for an appt I wouldn't have needed to suffer toothache at all!

Sorry to hear you've been experiencing so much trouble both with your toothache and not being able to get an appointment.

Normally, you should be able to get an emergency appointment either the same day or the next day (it's a good idea to ring first thing in the morning as soon as they open because as soon as a surgery opens, the phones start ringing with people phoning up for emergency appointments!). They should be able to squeeze you in the same day, unfortunately though if one or more of the dentists is off ill or on holiday, they may not have the capacity to see you as soon as you would like - particularly if they've been unable to get a locum dentist to provide cover.

I experienced this myself a few months ago when I had horrendous toothache and so ended up having a tooth dressed. I was told that I needed a root canal and to book an appointment to get it done within a couple of weeks. Unfortunately my dentist was leaving that day and the practice had been unable to get a locum to fill in until his replacement arrived, so I had to wait nearly 6 weeks until the new dentist started. It wasn't the fault of the practice - it's just that there is a shortage of dentists wanting to do locum (and permanent) NHS work.

If your pain is really severe, they may be able to do something at your appointment on Thursday to relieve things until you can get a more convenient appointment. Alternatively, is there someone else who could collect your daughter from school?

You could try calling NHS Direct or your local PCT and seeing whether they can get you an appointment at a local dental access centre. They can usually see you at relatively short notice so that might be an option. I did this over the Christmas holidays - I had toothache because the root canal had become infected, so I ended up calling the out of hours number and they put me through to NHS Direct who arranged an appointment the next day. I called them on Christmas Day and got an appointment for first thing in the morning on Boxing Day (not exactly my idea of fun going to the dentist on Boxing Day! :sick:). If you're thinking of changing practices, your local PCT should also have details of NHS dentists who are accepting new patients in your area. :)