Preston man forced to wear 'dead man's teeth' after struggling to find NHS dentist
A Preston man says he has been forced to wear a set of "dead man's teeth" after struggling to find an NHS dentist.
Matt Bonnell, from Ashton-on-Ribble, says he has been unable to access NHS dental care despite ringing approximately 20 surgeries.
The 53-year-old now believes he has no other choice but to wear a set of dead man's dentures as he can't afford to repair his own.
He said: "I've been trying to get my top denture fixed for 18 months, but every dentist says they're not taking on new patients because of coronavirus.
"When I visited my mum in hospital I started talking to an old man about how I couldn't get my teeth sorted.
"He said I could have his teeth when he died as he wasn't getting out of there, and his wife actually gave them to me."
Matt says he has since disinfected the teeth and filed them down to make them fit better, but the situation is "horrible".
"The man died a few days later," he added, "it's a terrible state of affairs."
"I'm having to wear a set of dead man's teeth."
Matt, who works as a landscape gardener, says he is entitled to free dental care as he receives Universal Credit.
But he feels the only option he has been given by the surgeries is to go private - a choice he cannot afford.
"It feels like discrimination.
"I can't get free dental care because of Covid but they'll do it if you pay for it.
"It doesn't make sense."
The Lancashire Local Dental Committee said the issues Matt has faced "are not uncommon."
"There is a severe and worsening situation in terms of NHS Dental Service capacity across the country," a spokesman added.
"The best chance of seeing a dentist who can help is either through the Lancashire Dental Helpline on 0300 1234 010 or by persistence; phoning around local practices to see if anyone can help."
Matt got his first full upper denture when he was 42-years-old after his teeth began to fall out following a push-bike accident.
Although his top denture broke around four years ago, the problems began when they snapped into even more pieces around 18 months ago.
He said: "I managed at first because I could keep the pieces in my mouth as there was still suction despite them being broken.
"But I was eating a peanut one day and it broke again, and then I lost a piece.
"Now I only have one piece left which has about five teeth on it, and I've been using that to stop my face from collapsing."
Matt says the ordeal has left him with self-esteem issues, and he is now unable to smile without covering his mouth.
He added: "I can't eat or drink in front of people because I dribble. It's embarrassing.
"I take pride in my appearance and I've always taken care of myself, but this makes me feel ugly."
Matt now hopes getting the media's attention will help him get a new set of teeth.
He also hopes to find the man's wife to thank her for helping him.
"The fact her husband was dying and she still had the thought of helping me made me cry," Matt said.
"I'm kicking myself that I never got her name or address.
"I really hope I can find her to say thank you."
Speaking to the Lancashire Post about Matt's situation, NHS England said dentistry has been "extremely challenged throughout the pandemic."
They added: "Dental commissioners across the North West are working with Local Dental Committees, dental networks and practices to monitor the safe restoration of services.
"We are working with this patient to ensure they get the treatment they require."
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