Smiles from the Streets


The Homeless People Teaching Dentists

Image of a red toothbrush on a blue background
Photo by Alex on Unsplash

Dentists will be the ones in the chair on Friday, when formerly homeless people take over as dental teachers at a special meeting in Birmingham.

‘Homeless and Inclusion Oral Health’, supported by Health Education England Dental Section, Pathway and The Faculty for Homeless and Inclusion Health Dental Subgroup will bring together nearly 150 young dentists, doctors, commissioners and formerly homeless people, to discuss helping vulnerable patients.

70% of homeless people have lost teeth since becoming homeless and almost all have tooth decay problems. Janine Doughty is a dentist and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Fellow who is chairing the event:

“Getting access to a dentist when you’re homeless can be hard. Tooth pain is pushing homeless people to desperate measures, like trying to pull out their own teeth. Nobody should suffer this way. Today will help dentists across the Midlands to develop skills to help the people who need it most”

Homeless health charity Pathway ran a pilot project, restoring smiles to homeless people. Stan Burridge was homeless for many years, he developed, managed and participated in the scheme, which he described as ‘life changing’.

“The biggest difference for me has been food. I had to cut it into small pieces that I could swallow whole, it’s embarrassing, and not being able to chew impacts on the taste. Now I have a full set of dentures. Having false teeth isn’t perfect, but as least I can enjoy eating, and I can chew most things.”

Stan will be presenting at the conference, presenting his work on supporting homeless people who are frightened of dentists. The day also includes sessions on helping people who have been sexually abused, and chance to meet former British Dental Association Chair, Janet Clarke MBE to discuss starting new services.

‘Homeless and Inclusion Oral Health’ takes place on 23 November 2018.