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Homeless and vulnerable people living in Winchester have been provided with desperately needed dental care on board Dentaid’s mobile dental unit.

The unit visited Trinity House in Winchester on Tuesday offering free treatment for people who use the drop-in centre. 

Many had not seen the dentist for several years and were suffering long-term dental pain. 

The first patient was 38-year-old Daniel Casey, a former rough sleeper who spent 8 months sleeping in a shop doorway.  He now lives in a hostel but is not registered with a dentist.  A few weeks ago Daniel’s teeth were damaged and he was suffering considerable pain.  “I’ve had toothache for ages but didn’t really know what to do about it,” he said.  “I would never go to a dentist but when the dentist came here on the bus I knew I had to see her,” he said.  “I needed three teeth to be taken out and she’s going to do some fillings.  I’m over the moon because it’ll stop the toothache.”

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Another patient who regularly visits Trinity House added: “I’ve got 32 teeth and 30 of them are alright which I’m really pleased about.  It’s good that a dentist came here to help us and the next thing I have to do is try to find an NHS dentist.” 

Operations director at Trinity Winchester Sue Mckenna said: “Unfortunately many of our clients just don’t go to the dentist and don’t tell us they have they have toothache until it’s too late and it’s having a serious impact on their lives. We’ve had to send them to A&E in the past.  They have many other things going on in their lives and dental care isn’t usually a priority. But dental problems can affect their self esteem and prospects – we have people here preparing for job interviews and it’s important they feel comfortable about their teeth.  We worked with 620 people last year and I’d say most of them need some sort of dental treatment.  By bringing the mobile dental unit here, Dentaid is helping to change their lives.” 

Dentaid’s UK Clinical director Jane Lelean was the dentist on the unit with dental nurse Emma Buday working alongside her.  They saw 6 patients on Tuesday and plan to return to Trinity House in the near future to treat more people.  In addition to extractions and fillings, the team also provided oral health education and gave toothbrushes and paste to the patients.

Steve Bailey from Dentaid’s partner charity Team Rubicon drove the mobile dental unit and WSYdom Technologies provided the IT system.

Dentaid purchased the mobile unit in 2016 to provide outreach services to homeless and vulnerable adults across the country.  It has also been to the Trussell Trust in Salisbury and will visit Yorkshire and Cornwall in the coming weeks. The project has been generously supported by the Rotary Club of Romsey Test, The Lions and Dental Directory.  The dental instruments used on the unit were kindly donated by Single Use Dental Instruments.