Scottish researchers call for improved access to dental care for the homeless
Scottish research teams have called for improved access to dental care for homeless people.
Researchers from Stirling and Aberdeen universities discovered that dental anxiety and depression were both more common among homeless people. As previous studies have linked poor oral health to an elevated risk of several serious illnesses, the university academics have appealed for better access to dental services for those who don’t have a permanent address.
The research teams found that rates of depression were up to 66% higher than in the general population and around 20% of homeless people have significant oral health problems. The survey involved more than 850 homeless participants across areas covered by seven different health boards.
Seeing a dentist can be difficult when you’re homeless, not just because it’s difficult to find the money to get to a practice and pay for an appointment, but also because dental surgeries require you to register and provide a home address. Although there are charities and initiatives, which help to connect homeless people with health services, the demand is much greater than the supply. For many homeless people, the prospect of seeing a dentist is also incredibly daunting. Many patients may be anxious about the way they look or their personal hygiene, while others may be worried about pain, injections or fear of the unknown. Dental fear can create barriers even for those who do have access to routine dental care, and it can be even more damaging for the homeless.