Homeless and vulnerable people in Salisbury have received free dental care after a mobile dental unit visited Alabaré Place.
Volunteers from the dental charity Dentaid provided check-ups and pain-relieving treatments for six Alabaré residents who hadn’t seen a dentist for many years. The project has been funded by local Rotary clubs, including Salisbury Rotary Club, and will involve monthly clinics on Dentaid’s mobile unit offering fillings, extractions, scale and polishing and oral health advice.
“I’ve had toothache for so long I don’t remember not having it,” said Alabaré Place resident James Walmsley. “It does keep me awake but for people with anxiety and mental health issues going out to a dentist is really hard so it’s much better that the dentists come here. I’ve had a filling and if I get my teeth sorted hopefully I’ll smile more.”
Dentaid, an international dental charity based in Landford, takes its mobile dental unit to homeless shelters, refuges and day centres across the country providing essential dental treatment for vulnerable people who often face barriers to accessing NHS dental treatment.
“To get an emergency appointment you have to ring at 8.30 in the morning but that’s hard when you don’t have a phone,” said James Ross, who lived on the streets in Devizes before moving to Alabaré Place last year. “I ended up with an abscess which came back a few weeks ago and I know I’ll need an extraction.”
Dentist Jenny Wordley, who owns The Borough Dental Practice in Downton, volunteered to run last Wednesday’s mobile dental clinic. Among her patients was a victim of domestic abuse who had fled her home. “You never know when you’re going to need a service like this,” said the Alabaré service user. “I always took great pride in my teeth and then one day everything changed. It’s important for my self esteem to have good dental health but it’s the last thing on your mind in difficult times.”
“We know that many vulnerable people don’t access dental care until it’s having a serious impact on their lives,” said Dentaid CEO, Andy Evans. “Some find ways to mask their dental pain or end up in hospital with severe dental infections. By taking our mobile service to a location where they feel safe and comfortable we can help them access the dental care they need.”
Nicki Vigor, manager at Alabaré Place, added: “Dentaid provides a fantastic service. Many of our service-users do not regularly visit the dentist so Dentaid’s visit was greatly appreciated.”