A MAN today told how his life had been ruined after being left to live without teeth for more than five years.
Chris Piccini, 54, from Pilton, won an apology from health bosses after taking his complaints about his treatment to the Scottish Government Ombudsman.
He said the failure to fit false teeth properly meant he was left jobless, barely able to chew solid food and with his self esteem in tatters.
NHS Lothian has now been ordered to issue a full apology to the father-of-two and urgently arrange an appointment for him to be seen at its department of restorative dentistry.
Mr Piccini, who says his weight has dropped by around a stone as a result of his difficulty eating, said today: “Speaking to people without any teeth or dentures is not very nice.
“Without knowing it you end up spitting at people and I speak in a strange way.
“I’ve had to stay inside. Which jobs can I apply for? One in a cellar so no-one sees me? I’ve been living mainly off mash and soup.
“I can eat some solid stuff but I have to cut the meal up and just swallow it.”
Belgian Mr Piccini, who says he has three degrees and is fluent in five languages, said his ordeal began when he had 16 rotten teeth removed at St John’s Hospital in Livingston under general anaesthetic in 2006.
He says he had to wait six months for a set of dentures, which were fitted so poorly that they caused agonising pain and ulcers, forcing him to abandon them.
Two years after the operation to remove his teeth a dentist agreed to provide Mr Piccini with a second set of dentures, but they too did not fit.
A dental specialist in Mr Piccini’s native country describing them as “like a knife” which would have split his mouth open with continued use.
He was told that during the initial operation to remove the teeth, too much tissue was lost meaning it would be impossible to use standard dentures.
After another trip to his dentist early last year Mr Piccini, who worked in a call centre and catering and had aspirations of starting a business before he lost his teeth, was eventually referred to the department of restorative dentistry.
But the restorative dentistry consultant then referred Mr Piccini back to his original dentist who had sent him for specialist treatment without offering him an appointment.
In his ruling, Ombudsman, Jim Martin, said the problems were having a “devastating impact” on Mr Piccini’s life, and that the health board’s refusal to give him an appointment at the restorative dentistry department was unreasonable.
Mr Martin added that he could not be sure whether the case was a one-off or a problem in the department.
Mr Piccini, who has lived in the Capital for 14 years, added: “There’s probably a lot of people in Edinburgh being pulled forward and backwards.
“The Ombudsman has done a great job, but I have lost my trust. I’ve been suffering for five years and they can’t give me that time back.”