Around 15% of homeless people have pulled out their own teeth after being refused access to dental treatment.
That’s according to research from Groundswell, which also found 70% had lost teeth since becoming homeless and almost a third (30%) are currently experiencing dental pain.
These statistics were brought up in Parliament recently after Labour’s Stella Creasy told Ministers that many homeless people had hit a ‘brick wall’ when trying to access dental treatment.
‘It’s little wonder that one study shows that 15 per cent of homeless people have pulled their own teeth out because they can’t access services,’ she said.
Failing vulnerable patients
Despite difficulties accessing treatment, participants valued their oral health and believed dentists were there to help.
However, only 23% had been to the dentist in the last six months, with 58% not clear on what their rights are to NHS dentistry.
‘Current policy on NHS dentistry is failing vulnerable patients,’ Charlotte Waite, chair of the BDA’s England Community Dental Services, said.
‘A civilised society does not leave homeless people so debilitated by oral disease they resort to pulling out their own teeth.
‘There is no easy solution, but any progress is impossible without adequate investment in mainstream and dedicated services.
‘The failure to invest in community dentistry is hurting patients who can’t always be cared for in traditional settings.
‘It’s hitting the homeless, the housebound, and patients with dementia, learning disabilities and phobias who are all entitled to effective care.’