Call to improve dentistry for homeless

COMMUNITY dental services must be improved to help the homeless, the British Dental Association has said.

They spoke out after new research showed 15 per cent of homeless people have resorted to pulling out their own teeth.

The study by homelessness charity Groundswell asked 260 homeless people in London about dental care and found 70 per cent reported having lost teeth since they had been homeless. Just over a third (35 per cent) said they had teeth removed by a healthcare professional, 17 per cent lost teeth following acts of violence, and seven per cent had no teeth at all.

The BDA is calling on the government and health commissioners to “adequately resource” NHS community dental services that care for vulnerable patient groups.

The BDA’s chair of England Community Dental Services Michael Cranfield said current dental policy was “failing vulnerable patients” including the homeless, the housebound, and patients with dementia, learning disabilities and phobias.

“A civilised society does not leave homeless people handicapped by oral disease or resorting to pulling out their own teeth,” he said. “There is no easy solution, but any progress is impossible without adequately resourced mainstream and dedicated services.

“The failure to invest in community dentistry is hurting patients who can’t always be cared for in traditional settings. This research should force government and health commissioners to reassess their priorities.” 

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