Great-grandmother Una Fogarty knows she will be forced to wait years for a dental appointment at the Warwick Dental Clinic so she takes matters into her own hands with some pliers and alcohol.
Great-grandmother Una Fogarty knows she will be forced to wait years for a dental appointment at the Warwick Dental Clinic so she takes matters into her own hands with some pliers and alcohol.

DIY dental kit: pliers and rum

A FOUR-year wait for a dentist to look at an aching tooth?

One Warwick great-grandmother said “bugger that” – got drunk and handed her daughter some pliers and told her to “go for it”.

For 65-year-old Una Fogarty, she no longer even attempts to phone the Warwick Dental Clinic; she just uses the same ingredients and method for each ailing fang her family suffers.

Her story comes after local member Lawrence Springborg last week branded the four-year wait “an intolerable and totally unacceptable situation” after receiving advice from the Minister for Health that only “urgent emergency cases” would receive priority treatment.

Mrs Fogarty said she’d been “trying for years” to get an appointment for herself and her family, without any success.

“My 46-year-old daughter had really bad toothaches – she was in agony, tears running down her face,” she said.

“Every morning she’d ring between 8am and 8.30am and when she’d finally get through they’d say ‘ring again tomorrow, we don’t have time today’.”

As her toothache was not classed as an emergency and her problem was not GP-referred, Mrs Fogarty’s daughter had to put up with the pain.

That was until the “tough old birds” bought a few bottles of whisky and rum and took matters into their own hands.

“We bought a bottle, dipped the pliers in to sterilise them and I told my daughter to go for it,” Mrs Fogarty laughed.

“So now if we get a toothache, we know we can’t get in to see anybody about it and we can’t afford to see a private dentist – we’ve gotta do something if we’re in agony.

“But we’re bushies – we had to do all this stuff living out in the bush like stitching ourselves up if we needed to so this is nothing.”

So is it hard to pull out a tooth with a pair of pliers?

“Not really – if you twist it a couple of times it’ll come straight out – but you have to be pretty tipsy not to feel the pain,” the tough great-gran laughed.

Another concerned Warwick resident contacted the Daily News after our original story, saying the local public dental care situation was “absolutely shocking”.

“Everyone you talk to complains about how hard it is to get into the (public) dentist here in Warwick,” the resident – who did not wish to be named – said.

“My husband and I ended up going to a dental school in Brisbane after we got sick and tired of waiting.”

The woman said even if patients phoned the dental clinic between 8am and 8.30am, they would be hard pressed to even talk to a staff member.

“You could ring for half an hour and not get through – it took me three days to even get through one week,” she said.

“And even if you do get through, unless you have severe pain you have no hope of getting an appointment.”

The pensioner said the public health system was meant to be there for those who could not afford a private dentist.

“To get a tooth out through the private system it might be $200 – we just can’t afford that,” she said.

The couple, both in their 60s, lost big fillings, which left their teeth sensitive and eventually led to abscesses.

“They keep making the excuse that there is only one (public) dentist here but there are a lot of people here depending on it – something needs to be done,” she said.



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