It is a sad fact that people experiencing homelessness often live with the misery of dental pain. Rough sleeping or being vulnerably housed makes it difficult for people to look after their oral health. Research shows that 70 per cent of people experiencing homelessness are living with toothache and 15 per cent have been so desperate they’ve tried to extract their own teeth.
Our patients also face many practical, emotional and mental barriers to accessing care. The challenges of experiencing homelessness can make it difficult to make and keep appointments and many of our patients have anxieties or limited opportunities to prioritise their oral health. Some of our patients have also suffered damage to their teeth due to their diet, addiction, violence or abuse.
Our mobile dental units visit soup kitchens, hostels, night shelters and emergency accommodation, with volunteer dental professionals providing screening, advice and dental care. By offering a regular service we aim to break down barriers and give our vulnerable patients the best possible chance of accessing dental care.
Our compassionate, non-judgemental approach allows our patients to be fully supported as they talk to our volunteers about their oral health before being offered treatment. In addition to relieving pain our volunteers help our patients to feel more confident in their smiles. As a result, our patients have been able to succeed in rehabilitation programmes, seek housing or employment or re-engage with family helped by the fact they feel better about their dental health.
We believe that dentistry can play a key part in someone’s journey out of homelessness and help them to move on to a new chapter in their lives.
"Today the dentist has built up my tooth at the front and now it looks like a proper tooth. It looks so nice. It’s not just my smile, it’s that he took the time and the care. Before, I couldn’t open my mouth and now I can smile.” – Sophie a Dentaid patient in Broadstairs