Dentaid’s public access clinics provide an emergency response in areas where people are struggling to register for NHS dental care. This work started in Kirklees, West Yorkshire in December 2015. The Real Junk Tooth Project was founded after a team of local dentists discovered that homeless and vulnerable people in their community were not able to eat the free food provided by a soup kitchen because their dental pain was so severe.
There were long waiting lists to register with an NHS dentist and people were struggling to access emergency dental services.
In response, a local practice opened every Thursday evening offering emergency treatment for people who were suffering dental pain and weren’t registered with a practice. Patients didn’t need an appointment and only paid if they could afford to.
Once Dentaid purchased its mobile dental unit, we returned to Kirklees to run a number of public access clinics in schools, community centres and Dewsbury town hall. These were open to anyone who was struggling to access dental treatment and our team saw up to 35 patients a day.
The first patient needed 5 teeth to be extracted and had been suffering from toothache for two years. Dentaid also became aware of patients who had attempted to remove their own teeth.
Thanks to the support of local foundation dentists, Dentaid continues to run free dental clinics for communities in Kirklees.
In addition to our outreach dental clinics, our mobile dental unit has also visited schools in Kirklees and support groups for children with special educational needs.
In November 2021 we started new public access clinics in Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk where people have been campaigning about a lack of access to NHS dentistry. In two days we saw 73 patients who had toothache but no dentist. We returned in February 2022 and saw a further 83 patients.
Thanks to the support of the town council and Denplan, our mobile dental unit will start regular visits to the town to offer free dental care for people who are suffering the misery of untreated toothache but have not been able to register with a practice.