Pensioner flies to Spain for dental treatment amid arrears

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A GRANDFATHER has flown to Spain for dental treatment after months of ‘excruciating agony’ while waiting to see a dentist in Scotland.

Nigel Fryer, 76, had been unable to find a practice willing to treat him as an NHS patient when he returned to Kirkgunzeon, Dumfries-shire from Spain in January, with his wife Maggie .

The couple, who moved to Scotland from the Lake District in 2020, have split their time between the UK and a second home in Alhama de Granada for 15 years and previously received all their dental treatment in Spain.

However, Brexit rules limit the time they can spend there.

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Mr Fryer, a retired hospital manager, had been diagnosed with an abscess and prescribed antibiotics in Spain before returning to Scotland with a toothache that he said had become so painful he wanted to die.

“I got to the point where I was like ‘if I go to sleep and don’t wake up, I think that’s going to be the best outcome I could hope for,'” Mr Fryer said.

After calling 111 he was referred to Dumfries Emergency Dental Hospital where he was prescribed a second course of antibiotics but was told he would have to check in with a dental practice for a further processing.

Unable to get NHS care, Mr Fryer put himself on the private patient waiting list at a dental practice in Dalbeattie and was finally accepted onto their list in March.

However, he was told it would be June 9 before they could see him for a checkup.

READ MORE: What happened to NHS dentistry?

In May, once again in ‘excruciating agony’, Mr Fryer was sent to emergency dental hospital.

“She drilled out the tooth, scraped it all out, bleached it and wrapped it in cotton, but said, ‘You’re going to have to go to your dentist to get it all done.’

“So I just had an appointment with my Spanish dentist and flew there.

“It’s a town of about 5,000 people in the mountains – mainly olive growing and agriculture, not a hugely prosperous town – but we have five dental offices, and they’re all good.”

Once in Spain, her dentist removed an infected bridge and extracted three abscessed teeth, with stitches and a follow-up consultation, at a total cost of €150 (£130).

Mr Fryer was also quoted €2,400 (£2,000) for two implants to replace his lost teeth, compared to £5,000 each for implants done privately in Scotland.

Back in Dumfries, Mr Fryer was diagnosed with periodontal infection during his June 9 examination at Dalbeattie practice.

He was prescribed two rounds of teeth cleaning and two root canal treatments, at a total cost of £810, but the earliest available appointments are in September and October.

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Last week, a toothache erupted again in one of his abscessed teeth.

He praises the practice of seeing him ‘quickly’ drill the tooth and drain the infection for £49.99, but says he finds it ‘maddening’ that his only option is private care, which means paying £18 per month. membership plus the “additional insult” of having to pay for antibiotics which would be free on the NHS.

Mr Fryer said: ‘It’s a cracking practice, they’re lovely people and the dentist is very knowledgeable, but you get to that point in life where your teeth are falling out, your income is absolutely shot and you see the kind numbers for private processing.

“I just watch the savings dwindle. You wouldn’t mind if you thought the fees were reasonable.”

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