Patients have started visiting the first “pay what you can” dentist.

Several people in need of emergency treatment who cannot find a local NHS dentist, lined up outside Dewsbury Dental Centre in the first of a now weekly event for Kirklees people called the Real Junk Tooth Project.

A woman who pulled her tooth out with pliers, and five others needing tooth extractions were all dealt with by volunteer dentists and nurses in two hours on a sit and wait basis as part of a three-month pilot project.

The helpers are signed up to international charity Dentaid and had come to Kirklees thanks to community activist Paul Burr, who founded the Dewsbury Real Junk Food Project.

Claire Skipper, who received emergency dentistry treatment at the first Real Junk Tooth Project

Claire Skipper, from Dewsbury, went for further treatment after trying to remove her own tooth, which she couldn't afford to have removed by a private dentist.

“I’d been in absolute agony for weeks,” Claire, 29, said.

“I’d tried to get an NHS dentist but nowhere was taking on new patients so I couldn’t register and I can’t afford a private dentist.

“The only emergency clinic is in Bradford which costs a fortune to get to on public transport.

“My dad was also suffering toothache so we arranged to meet in my garden shed at 3am, drank whisky and pulled our teeth out with pliers.

“Mine broke and it took me another week before I could finally get to see an emergency dentist who removed what was left.”

Paul lamented the lack of NHS dentists.

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He said: “Around 55 per cent of people who are looking for an NHS dentist can’t find one local to them and there is a problem in Dewsbury and Kirklees.

“One of the patients hadn’t been able to find a dentist since she moved to Dewsbury four years ago.

“This means that dentists can be unaccessible for patients, especially those who can’t afford to travel further afield.”

The project will now run every Thursday evening at Dewsbury Dental Centre on Halifax Road (excluding December 24 and 31) from 6 to 8pm.

Nick O’Donovan, owner of Dewsbury Dental Centre and one of those who provided emergency treatment on the first night, said: “I’d like to think all dentists joined the profession because they wanted to help people.

“This is one way we can give something back.

“Of course the best thing to do is have regular check-ups and good oral health but there are people who are falling through the net for all sorts of reasons.”

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