03 Feb

Britain experiences a DIY dentistry boom in lockdown

Britain has experienced a DIY dentistry boom during the course of the Covid-19 lockdowns, new research suggests. 

A study carried out by the Association of Dental Groups (ADG) revealed that 1 out of 4 households had attempted DIY dental care, while Boots has reported a surge in sales of dental kits. In 2020, sales of DIY repair kits for fillings, crowns and caps at the high street pharmacy soared by 87%.

Figures from the ADG indicated that of the 25% of participating households that had attempted DIY treatment at home, 12.7% had taken painkillers for dental pain, 7.9% had tried to treat a cavity and 7.6% had attempted DIY tooth extraction. 

The boom in DIY dentistry has been attributed to access issues and a lack of funding, with the British Dental Association (BDA) accusing the government of making bad decisions throughout the pandemic. Chair of the BDA, Eddie Crouch, said that patients were left without options at the beginning of the crisis and now, practices are struggling due to activity targets imposed at the end of 2020.

ADG chair, Neil Carmichael, urged the government to take swift action to support dentists and enable patients to access the care they need. DIY treatments, such as tooth extraction, carry serious risks. Patients who do try and remedy problems at home are likely to end up needing professional treatment and they also face risks of severe pain and infection. Mr Carmichael encouraged ministers to act now to ensure that patients are able to see a dentist and to reduce the risk of backlogs leading to an influx of complex and urgent cases in the future. 

During the first lockdown, dental practices were shut, which has contributed to significant backlogs. Patients are finding it difficult to get an appointment and there is real concern over impending increases in dental decay, gum disease, dental infections and missed oral cancer cases.