First dental clinics in Northern Ireland

People experiencing homelessness in Northern Ireland will receive dental care thanks to a partnership between Dentaid The Dental Charity and Bupa Dental Care.

Clients at Simon Community NI who are suffering the misery of toothache will be able to have free emergency pain relieving treatments on the Dentaid mobile unit. Volunteers from Bupa Dental Care will be visiting Simon Community NI services in Belfast, Bangor and Armagh every month for the rest of the year. In addition to offering extractions and fillings, the team will be providing oral cancer checks, scale and polish, preventative treatments and dental health advice.

According to research carried out by Groundswell, 90 per cent of people experiencing homelessness have suffered problems with their mouths.  More than half are currently living with the misery of toothache and for some the problem has become so severe they have tried to extract their own teeth. Dentaid The Dental Charity has six mobile dental units that visit soup kitchens, hostels, temporary accommodation and community buildings across the UK.  In addition to people experiencing homelessness, the charity’s patients include survivors of abuse, refugees and asylum seekers, cancer patients, fishing communities and people overcoming addiction.

“We have had a long-held ambition to extend our charitable dental services into Northern Ireland and help those experiencing homelessness to access dental care,” said Dentaid The Dental Charity CEO Andy Evans. “We’ll be helping people out of dental pain but also enabling our patients to feel more confident and understand the importance of dental health.“We know our patients face many practical, emotional and physical barriers when it comes to dentistry but by taking our mobile dental unit to a location where they feel safe and supported we can give them the best possible chance of accessing care.”

A spokesperson from Bupa Dental Care commented: “We’re proud to partner with two such important charities, Dentaid The Dental Charity and Simon Community NI, to help harder-to-reach communities in Northern Ireland get the dental care they need and deserve. “We’re currently planning a programme where our dental professionals will go out on the road every month to treat patients in need and help bridge the gap to improving oral health for those who need it.”

Simon Community NI Chief Executive Jim Dennison welcomed the partnership, “This initiative will help give people their smiles back. Oral care can be extremely challenging for those experiencing homelessness and  can cause people to become insecure about speaking or smiling, which further impacts their social isolation.

“The mobile dental unit provided by Dentaid the Dental Charity together with their volunteers from Bupa Dental Care will bring dental care directly to our clients improving their dental health and giving them the opportunity to smile with confidence again.” The first clinic will take place at Simon Community Belfast on April 15th.