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A frustrated mother who has waited nearly two years for her daughter’s black “rotting” tooth to be extracted due to NHS waiting lists has said she still has no idea when the eight-year-old will eventually be seen.

Jes Revy-Wilcock, a 37-year-old waitress who lives in Bridport, Dorset, said her daughter Ari was born without enamel on her teeth and has always had problems with them – despite regular brushing and a healthy diet.

Ari had three teeth removed by her NHS dentist when she was three years old – two due to decay and one as a result of falling over and hitting a tooth – but around two years ago, she started complaining of an “ache in her mouth”.

Her NHS dentist confirmed her upper left molar was “rotten” and would need to be removed – but after the dentist started working with private patients only, the family have been on waiting lists ever since.

Ari has been left crying in pain regularly, having to be taken out of class at school every month, she is “self-conscious” around her friends, and she goes through at least one Calpol bottle every two months to manage the pain.

She has even had two emergency appointments at Dorset County Hospital, where putty has been placed around the “black stump” to act as a temporary “plaster” for pain relief.

Since Jes and her 39-year-old husband Philip Wilcock, a carpenter, cannot afford private dental appointments or treatment, the couple feel helpless in this “waiting game” – and said Ari is desperate to have the tooth removed.

“I’m frustrated about the whole thing,” Jes told PA Real Life.

“Obviously, I don’t know the backlog, or the ins and outs of the NHS, or why it has taken so long, but it has been over a year for a child who has literally got a rotting tooth and she could potentially have another one now.

“There’s just this worry, but the main word I’m thinking of is frustrated, and also the fact that I can’t do anything really to help her.”

Ari was born without enamel on her teeth, and at the age of two it was discovered she had two rotten teeth, along with another which had “gone grey” after she fell over, but all three were removed when she was three.

Up until this point, Jes and Philip, who have two more children – Alma, six, and Frank, three – were always able to book dentist appointments when needed.

However, Jes said ever since the Covid pandemic it has become increasingly difficult to book appointments, and around two years ago in May 2022, Ari started to complain of tooth pain, saying her “mouth hurt”.

She could not eat or sleep and would often wake up in the middle of the night “crying”.

That is when Jes said: “We need to see the dentist.”

Jes was able to book an appointment with Ari’s usual NHS dentist one week later, and this is when it was confirmed her upper left molar was “rotten” and would need to be removed.

However, after her dentist started working with private patients only, the family have been left waiting ever since – and a date for the operation has still not been set.

“We’ve just put our names down for (every dentist), just in the hope that someone at some point will say, ‘Oh, we’re taking some NHS patients’,” Jes said.

“We did get a letter (from Dorset County Hospital) a couple of months ago saying, ‘Don’t worry, you haven’t been forgotten’, which was nice to hear.

“But I rang them up and I said to them, ‘Can you say it will be this year?’ And they said, ‘We can’t even say if it will be by summer.’ They literally have no idea.

“Ari asks me all the time, and I just say, ‘I just don’t know. I just have no idea’.”

Ari’s pain is sporadic rather than constant and she does not “live in fear”, but the tooth – which Jes describes as a “black stump” – is having a significant impact on her life.

While brushing the tooth seems to help, and Ari does not have too many sugary foods or fizzy drinks, Jes said she does not know how to “stop it from aching”.

Calpol provides temporary relief, and they have had two emergency appointments at Dorset County Hospital, but Ari is left crying at least once a month due to the “rotten tooth in her mouth”.

“She’s very aware of it, and she’s self-conscious of it as well, because she’s the only one out of her friends that has had any kind of tooth issues,” Jes said.

“When she’s in pain, she just cries and she says, ‘I don’t want this tooth in anymore.’

“If we’re going out, going to the cinema for the day, she’ll say things offhand, flippantly, like, ‘Oh, I hope I don’t get tooth ache that day,’ but it registers with me.

“Pain is not something children want to be closely associated with for a long time.”

Teachers have been supportive, taking her out of class if the pain becomes unbearable, but Jes said Ari gets “embarrassed when she’s in pain at school crying” – as people stare, and she often feels “different to her peers”.

Thankfully, this has not affected her schoolwork, and she has only missed class a couple of times this year so far, but Jes said she has noticed that Ari has become more sensitive to pain in general.

“I think she’s done with pain, she just shuts down,” Jes said.

“She’s just over it, and the waiting game.

“It is a scary thing having to go under general anaesthetic to have the operation, but she’s not mega anxious about it, she just keeps saying, ‘I want it to be done now’.”

On March 1, it was announced dental practices will benefit from extra cash for taking on new NHS patients in the latest milestone in the Government and NHS’s plan to make millions more dental appointments available.

Since Jes said she cannot afford to pay for private dental appointments or treatment, describing it as “out of the question”, she and her husband are praying the operation date is “any day now”.

Jes said she is now working with leading healthcare technology company Deep Medical and the NHS to help support the nation to help tackle health inequality, and she hopes that more appointments will become available soon.

While Jes appreciates this is not a simple fix, she wants to raise more awareness of the importance of dental care so that no one is “forgotten” and everyone is “looked after”.

She said: “I get anxiety about Ari’s teeth, worrying about when she’s going to be in pain, or when the actual surgery is, or will she have more rotten teeth? Have I given her too much sugar? Or is there anything I could have done differently?

“All these guilt parental things go through your head, so if it was just over and done with now, and we weren’t living with this constantly, it would be a lot better for all of us and Ari as well.

A spokesperson for NHS England South West and NHS Dorset Integrated Care Board (ICB) said: “We encourage this family to contact NHS Dorset ICB with further patient details and parental consent to enable the Dental Team to investigate this case and help resolve it. Contact details are below.

“While we are unable to comment on individual cases and without the full details, it would appear that the patient in this case may meet the criteria for an urgent dental or a stabilisation appointment and we encourage the family to also contact NHS111 where the details will be assessed clinically and if appropriate an urgent dental appointment will be arranged.

“Since September 2021 we have commissioned additional urgent dental care appointments that people can access by calling NHS111 with an urgent dental need. There are 390 appointments every week across the South West, with 35 urgent dental appointments in Dorset each week.

“There are also 750 appointments of Stabilisation across the South West (where people have a serious dental problem that doesn’t meet urgent criteria, we have introduced stabilisation appointments) with around 110 stabilisation appointments in Dorset providing definitive treatment to patients requiring dental care.

“To make a complaint about primary care services to the commissioner you can contact NHS Dorset Integrated Care Board. You can do this by: Telephone: 01305 368926 E-mail: Writing to us at: NHS Dorset, Vespasian House, Barrack Road, Dorchester, DT1 1TG.”

“My hope is definitely fewer waiting times and people being seen and looked after.”