THE timing could not have been worse.

It was the day after the UK was plunged into lockdown and Robbie MacRae, from Helenburgh, damaged a canine tooth while eating.

The 42-year-old overhead power line technician called his dentist but was told they were not doing any dental treatment due to Covid.

“I lasted about six weeks," said Mr MacRae. "I went through three courses of antibiotics, but my entire face eventually swelled up and my eye closed over.

"No one was seeing me, they were just prescribing antibiotics over the phone. I was in agony. I can take toothache, but that was something else.

"After six weeks they said ‘if your eye’s closed over go to the hospital’.

“I just had to get it pulled out then.

“They said if it had been normal circumstances it would have been a really easy fix, and I’d still have a tooth no problem.”

Mr MacRae was referred an urgent dental hub based at the Glasgow Dental Hospital.

"The extraction was horrific because the anaesthetic wouldn’t work due to the swelling," said MacRae.

“So it got pulled out without any anaesthetic. Fair play to them – the girls there were brilliant - but I think they were student nurses and it took a lot to get out.

"They had to take it in turns to pull it out.”

Mr MacRae is now booked in to receive an implant from Duncan Black at Halo Dental.

However, the bill is set to cost him around £3,500 as a neighbouring tooth is now also showing signs of infection.

"I went back to my NHS dentist in Helensburgh but they said there was nothing they could do except just wait until it got really sore and take it out too.

“It feels like all they’re really doing is pulling teeth out."

Aerosol generating procedures (AGPs), such as drilling teeth for fillings, is still restricted on the NHS due to Covid but can be performed private dental sector which is exempt from Scottish Government control.

However, all dentists must abide by strict PPE, ventilation, and cleaning guidelines.

Mr MacRae said: “I'm booked for the implant at the moment but I’m facing a £3,500 bill and I’m in a fairly precarious employment situation right now. Our company is waiting to hear whether its going to lose its contract, so I have to seriously think about whether I can just live with a gap or get it done.

“It’s frustrating when I've been told it would have been an easy fix normally. I imagine there must be lots of people in the same position.”