Dentaid mobile unit cares for the vulnerable

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Dentaid’s new mobile unit provides care for the vulnerable and homeless in Winchester and Salisbury

Homeless and vulnerable people in Winchester and Salisbury have been provided with dental care thanks to a mobile dental unit operated by the charity Dentaid.

The unit has visited Trinity House day centre in Winchester and the Trussell Trust in Salisbury to provide free dental treatment for people who find it difficult to access NHS care. Many had not seen a dentist for several years and were suffering long-term dental pain.

The first patient at Trinity House was 38-year-old Daniel, a former rough sleeper who spent eight 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 in a fight 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 taken out and she's going to do some fillings. I'm over the moon because it'll stop the toothache."

Another patient who regularly visits Trinity House, which provides food, showers, medical care and advice services for homeless people, 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."

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 most of them need some sort of dental treatment. By bringing the mobile dental unit here, Dentaid is helping to change their lives."

Dentaid has now paid two visits to Trinity House, treating 13 patients. There are five more homeless people in Winchester who need dental care and the charity will return to the day centre as soon as possible.

The Trussell Trust

The mobile dental unit also visited a project run by anti-poverty charity The Trussell Trust, based at St Michael’s Community Centre in Salisbury. The patients included a lady who had not been to the dentist for 20 years and had previously been too nervous to register for NHS treatment. “I never would have gone to the dentist even though I know I needed to,” she said. “But the fact that the Dentaid van came to me here at the community centre made it much easier for me. The dentist was so lovely and made me feel really relaxed and safe. I haven’t seen a dentist for 20 years and I know I have lots of problems with my teeth but it’s a difficult thing to talk about. I think it’s a really good idea for the van to come here.”

Above: left to right: Jane LeLean, Andy Evans and Emma Buday on Dentaid’s mobile dental unit.

Dentaid's UK Clinical Director Jane Lelean was the dentist on the unit with dental nurse Emma Buday working alongside her. In addition to extractions and fillings, the team also provided oral health education and gave toothbrushes and paste to the patients.

Dentaid stated that it is extremely grateful to Acteon for donating a scaler and x-ray developer for the unit and to Henry Schein for the medical supplies. The equipment on the van was serviced by Dave Effamy from Dental Directory and WYSdom Technologies generously donated the unit’s IT system and software. Single Use Dental Instruments donated the disposable instruments and the project was also supported by Centre for Dentistry.
Dentaid purchased the mobile dental unit last year with the help of Rotary and the Lions Club.

“Dentaid is committed to improving oral health and although in the past this has taken us to many of the world’s poorest countries, we know there are many people in this country who find it difficult to access dental treatment,” said CEO of Dentaid Andy Evans. “We are delighted that the first patients have been treated on the mobile dental unit − and by taking the service to them we have helped people who have not seen a dentist for many years.”

For more information about Dentaid visit www.dentaid.org