Homeless and vulnerable people have received free dental care on Dentaid’s mobile dental unit this Christmas.
This December the charity has run clinics in Blackpool, York, Leeds, Southampton and Winchester providing dental screening, pain relieving treatments and oral health advice.
At Horizon in Blackpool a team of volunteer dental professionals saw 30 patients including many struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. The joint initiative with the British Association of Dental Nurses and the Oral Health Foundation offered fillings, extractions, oral cancer screening and a scale and polish for Horizon service-users.
Next stop for the mobile dental unit was The Crypt in Leeds, a day centre and night shelter for homeless people in the city. This was Dentaid’s sixth visit to The Crypt and the charity has established good relationships with service users and their support workers. Ten homeless people were treated in the clinic and Dentaid will return to The Crypt in the New Year.
Kind-hearted Dentaid volunteers also provided free treatment for homeless people in York when the mobile unit visited Kitchen For Everyone in the city. And there have been regular clinics at Two Saints in Southampton and Trinity House in Winchester.
Many homeless people live with long-term dental pain. Research published last year reported that 70 per cent had lost teeth since become homeless and 15 per cent had attempted to extract their own teeth. Many of Dentaid’s patients have used drugs and alcohol to mask dental pain and have not seen a dentist for years. Dental problems can also affect their self-esteem and future prospects.
“For someone who has a fear of dentistry or history of mental health problems we can encourage them to step on board the unit and meet our team until they feel confident enough to talk about treatment,” said Dentaid CEO Andy Evans. “We know that in difficult times dental care is not a priority but as a result many people are needlessly suffering the misery of toothache. We also know that many homeless and vulnerable find it difficult to access NHS dental services for a variety of reasons. By taking the van to day centres and hostels where they already feel safe and comfortable, we are helping to break down barriers and ensuring some of the most vulnerable people in our society can access the dental care they need.”
A patient who was treated by the team in Southampton said: “I’ve had toothache that’s kept me awake for two weeks but I can’t remember the last time I went to the dentist and wouldn’t know how to get one. I just want it to stop hurting and to get my smile back.”
To support Dentaid’s work providing dental care for the homeless please visit www.dentaid.org/donate