My visit to the emergency dental service clinic

(as the patient),

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About: Dental Health - NMHS / Fremantle Dental Clinic

I recently visited the dental services clinic off Alma Street at Fremantle Hospital.

I have recently returned to Perth after living interstate for the past several years. While I was interstate I experienced dental pain and had 5 teeth extracted over the 5 years I was living there.

My upper teeth are in poor condition, I suffer from gum disease and the consequences of several severe infections in my youth which has impacted on my dental health, unfortunately.

I sought out some help because my general health is also being impacted by the condition of my teeth, I have also discovered that one's heart can also be adversely impacted by gum disease, etc.

I am unable to currently afford private treatment.

I have been experiencing flare-ups of tooth pain and infection in two of my upper teeth, and I wanted some help, basically, 2 teeth need to be removed immediately.

After completing the registration form and also filling out the emergency treatment health form I waited for 30 minutes for the on-duty dentist.

On the emergency treatment form, there is a requirement to declare any treatment, or medicines currently being taken, this is a reasonable matter, different drugs can interact adversely and so-forth.

I declared my treatment with an opiate medicine which is an official therapy being prescribed by a doctor.

When the dentist took me to the dental treatment room and sat me in the chair, they seemed very reluctant to deal with me. I can report that I was wearing normal clothing, I am clean and well presented, in good overall condition, I was speaking in normal tones, with courtesy and civility. This dentist was behaving as if they did not believe me and made no attempt to examine my teeth or look into my mouth. The dentist seemed reluctant to commence examining my dental condition.

As we spoke, the dentist looked at my teeth from a distance, and said: oh, that one will have to come out! This was from a distance of at least 1 metre.

This was the extent of the dentist's examination. The dentist then went on to describe the computer lottery system, where patients are given a random chance of moving to the front of the queue.

My dental condition is extreme, and I simply wanted some help. This dentist made zero attempts to examine my teeth and conveyed a very negative manner. I felt that their attitude was frankly insulting.

Because I had declared being treated with an opiate medicine, I feel that this dentist was making a huge assumption about me. I could see this very clearly, and this is why they were refusing to examine my teeth.

I am very disappointed with this visit, I received no treatment, not even a thorough examination. I was treated with contempt and as if I had done something wrong in being there!

I became frustrated with this entire visit, I stood up and walked out without saying anything further. I felt angry and insulted.

I was prepared to overlook this experience, despite not gaining any assistance or dental advice, but I received a bill for this experience. I request this bill is withdrawn, as I gained nothing but inconvenience and bad attitudes from this dentist.

I am skeptical if anything will come of this complaint, but I have registered an official complaint with the state government health services agency. If I gain no result, I will be re-opening this complaint. 

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Responses to this story

Response from Roslyn Elmes, Executive Director, Mental Health, Public Health & Dental Services, North Metropolitan Health Service

Dear The angrytooth,

Thank you for taking the time to provide us with feedback about your recent poor experience at the Fremantle General Dental Clinic. I was disappointed to hear that the dentist came across as uncaring and conveyed a very negative manner during your visit and I apologise for the distress this caused.

The Fremantle General Dental Clinic team always aim to provide the best care and treatment they can to all patients. In order for us to follow up on your concerns, I would encourage you to contact Dr Peter Wilkins, Regional Dental Officer South directly at enquiries@dental.health.wa.gov.au to discuss your treatment needs and how we can help.

I hope we hear from you soon and thank you again.

Kind regards

Ros Elmes

Executive Director Mental Health, Public Health and Dental Services

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