IN agony for days and without a dentist willing to see her, Elizabeth Green felt she had no choice but to pull out her own teeth.

The Hampshire grandmother was in such pain with the two front teeth she wiggled them back and forth for several hours with her fingers until they came away.

The 76-year-old widow has spoken of her anger at being forced to become a do-it-yourself dentist due to the lack of NHS dental care in her area.

Mrs Green, a retired chef, of Westman Road, Weeke, Winchester, said: "The teeth had became loose and very painful. I used Yellow Pages to ring around Winchester dentists but they all said sorry, we are not taking any new NHS patients.' "I explained I was in pain and all they said was take painkillers'. The teeth got more painful. One evening I had had enough. I couldn't take it any longer and moved the teeth back and forwards, and twisted them and pulled them out.

"I feel angry. I worked all my life and paid taxes and then when I want something I can't get it.

"It's terrible. It's like something from the past. When I was growing up in Germany my mother would put string around our teeth and say look away' and pull them out."

She said throughout her life she had always looked after her teeth but never been registered with a dentist because of the cost and because she felt there was no need.

"I do regret it. But I needed the money. I was always in debt and never had much to live on," said the mother of five and grandmother of 11.

Helen Clanchy, area director of commissioning (primary care) for Hampshire PCT, said: "We are very concerned to hear that this patient felt they had no option left but to take this drastic action. Hampshire PCT has a dental helpline that is able to offer patients who are unable or have chosen not to register with a NHS dentist, same day appointments for emergency treatment.

"Members of the public who use this service would need to pay the usual charges unless they are entitled to free NHS dental treatment."

Mrs Green, who undertook the DIY operation last year, has since taken her plight to Martin Tod, prospective Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate, who has now arranged for her to join a waiting list of a dentist in Andover.

Mr Tod said: "It's a shocking story, an indictment of the current situation. We've now reached the point where a pensioner felt forced to pull out two of her own teeth because they can't get access to a local NHS dentist.

"It's appalling and it's a health timebomb. We're laying down major problems for the future," he said.

Mr Tod said a more flexible dental contract was needed to encourage dentists back into the NHS and urged local primary care trusts to take urgent action.

n The number for the Hampshire PCT dental helpline is 0845 050 8345 and is open from 8.30am-5.30pm, Monday to Friday.

For the full story see today's Daily Echo