Mobile service that provides dental treatment for homeless people in London celebrates first anniversary

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A mobile dental service, which provides much-needed dental care for homeless people in Tower Hamlets and Newham, is celebrating its 1st anniversary. 

The van, which is run by the community dental service, is kitted out exactly like a traditional treatment room, enabling dentists to provide a range of treatments on the move. The mobile unit has been touring the boroughs since last summer, offering those without a permanent residence the chance to take advantage of services including fillings, cleaning treatments, extractions, routine checks, and dentures. 

Isabel Margetts, one of the dentists on the mobile team, said that homeless patients have complex needs. Many have hectic lifestyles, they find it difficult to keep their teeth clean and alcohol and drug abuse can elevate the risk of dental issues. The van is designed to provide a service to people who traditionally find it incredibly hard to see a dentist on a regular basis. Homeless people don’t tend to prioritise their dental health because there are more pressing issues to worry about, for example, paying for food and finding shelter. It’s also virtually impossible to fund dental treatment and to get to a dental centre that isn’t located in the centre of a town or city. Patients who use the service have provided positive feedback, and the vast majority are hugely grateful for the care administered by the team.

Patient, Steve Cullen, recently used the service. In the past, he has been forced to clean his teeth with a Brillo pad, but now claims that the dental service is helping him to work towards a better life. Mr Cullen, who claims that drinking and abusing cocaine have damaged his teeth considerably, said that the treatment he is receiving will make a difference to his chances of getting a job, as well as improving his confidence. 

The service is run by the Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust and operates across Tower Hamlets, Newham, and Hackney.

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