REGINA - Some residents of Regina are travelling to Alberta to have oral surgery rather than put up with dental pain for up to a year because of long wait lists.
There are currently only two oral and maxillofacial surgeons in the city and each is booked for months in advance.
One is currently booked solid until the end of April 2015 while the other has a wait list of about eight to 10 months for a consultation and then another three months after that for the surgery.
Mark Ogrady, department head of surgery with the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region, tells radio station CJME the shortage of oral surgeons is partly due to a number of recent retirements.
He says the region's hands are tied right now in what it can do to reduce wait times but it does have a recruiting program in place.
Some who say they can't take the pain any longer have gone to oral surgeons in Alberta to get their teeth fixed.
Morgan Brady, 25, needed to get her wisdom teeth removed but was told she would have to wait for more than a year.
"The pain is unbearable," says Brady. "And tooth pain, it's different, it gives me bad headaches. It's hard to concentrate."
Brady called a surgeon's office in Calgary and says she got an appointment for the following week. She had her consultation appointment and surgery on the same day.
According to the College of Dental Surgeons of Saskatchewan, the wait time in Saskatoon is quite a bit shorter than in Regina, with five oral and maxillofacial surgeons in that city.
Jerod Orb, executive director of the college, said dentistry isn't always on the top of the list for the provincial government because it's more in the realm of private health care than public.
Orb said they've improved efforts to recruit dentists and specialists into the province, but the programming isn't really there to retain or bring them in.
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