A stack of stories about people's ordeals with dental treatment has been passed to NHS and council officials.

Councillor Eddie Heslop compiled a dossier of emails and social media responses after he asked people to get in touch with their experiences of dental care.

This comes two months after Northern Echo investigation revealed how swathes of the North East, including Darlington, and North Yorkshire were becoming "dental deserts" where people needing dental care could be left with nowhere to turn.

Horror stories of people pulling their own teeth out and children in agony were exchanged online.

Now Darlington Borough Council's health and housing scrutiny committee are to receive an update on NHS Dentistry.

Read more: Revealed - The North East's 'dental deserts'

Cllr Heslop said he had heard of patients seeking help out of the area or even abroad.

He said on Tuesday: "Some of these people have other medical problems on top that are also affected, mental health and socialisation.

The Northern Echo: Cllr Eddie Heslop. Picture: Sarah Caldecott.Cllr Eddie Heslop. Picture: Sarah Caldecott.

"I just think it's absolutely amazing in this day and age. For people to resort to having to put fillings in their own teeth and take their own teeth out, I just think, this isn't good. 

"Sometimes people have been on holiday and got their normal dental work done while they're there, whether it's fillings, chipped teeth, you name it."

Read more: 'I pulled out my own teeth' - Life in Darlington's 'dental desert'

He has passed on his alarming collection of correspondence to the committee's councillors and NHS officials who will attend the meeting.

He added: "I thought if I sent that around, everybody's aware, the powers that be are aware that there's a real human aspect to this.

"Since I sent that I've probably had another 10 long emails on top of that.

"Some of these problems had been going on pre-Covid. Things need to improve a bit faster.

"I think we need to be looking at this and asking for three to six-monthly updates to keep this going, and asking for figures as well. What is their route map to improving it?"

Read more: 'Dentistry on the brink of collapse' - North East politicians speak out on dentist shortages

Among the accounts he received from patients, one said: "I have been trying for the last eight months to register with an NHS dentist but to no avail.

"It seems that there’s been a silent withdrawal of NHS dentistry leaving a gaping cavity in care for those who cannot afford to pay privately.

"A friend of mine had a fall and knocked out his two front teeth. He is struggling to pay his bills and has been unable to access an NHS dentist for any care at all."

Another said: "Nowhere in Darlington is taking on and we ring regularly for updates.

"We are told waiting lists have 800-odd people on them. It is absolutely ridiculous the lack of dentist availability for NHS patients."

Read more: Councillors want action over lack of Darlington NHS dentists

One respondent said: "In April 2020 I broke one of my back teeth and was unable at that point to see a dentist due to lockdown rules. I filled the tooth myself with a temporary filling which I still have over two years later!

"So far my own dentistry work is holding up. I am very worried that when it fails I will have nowhere to go to get the tooth sorted."

Another spoke of excruciating pain in lockdown which "led to me having to medicate and conduct my own ‘dentistry’", then cleaning and filling the tooth.

"This continued for over a year - still I was unable to see a dentist, even when calling 111 and being in tears through the pain I was experiencing.

"This year, my face and head swelled and finally I was able to obtain an emergency appointment... I had to have two teeth removed and several courses of antibiotics. I am not even 30.

"Never have I experienced pain and suffering like I had, as a direct result of lack of availability in care."

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