People experiencing homelessness in Armagh are set to receive dental care thanks to a partnership which will see a mobile unit visiting the city’s Simon Community NI hostel.
The project is run by Dentaid The Dental Charity and Bupa Dental Care.
Clients who are suffering the misery of toothache will be able to have free, emergency, pain-relieving treatments on the Dentaid mobile unit.
In addition to offering extractions and fillings, the team will be providing oral cancer checks, scale and polish, preventative treatments and dental health advice.
The mobile dental unit will be staffed by volunteers from Bupa Dental Care who will be visiting the Armagh hostel every month for the rest of the year, starting in June.
According to research carried out by Groundswell, 90 per cent of people experiencing homelessness have suffered problems with their mouths. More than half are currently living with toothache and for some the problem has become so severe they have tried to extract their own teeth.
Dentaid The Dental Charity has six mobile dental units that visit soup kitchens, hostels, temporary accommodation and community buildings across the UK.
In addition to people experiencing homelessness, the charity’s patients include survivors of abuse, refugees and asylum seekers, cancer patients, fishing communities and people overcoming addiction.
“We have had a long-held ambition to extend our charitable dental services into Northern Ireland and help those experiencing homelessness to access dental care,” said Dentaid The Dental Charity CEO Andy Evans.
“We’ll be helping people out of dental pain but also enabling our patients to feel more confident and understand the importance of dental health.
“We know our patients face many practical, emotional and physical barriers when it comes to dentistry but by taking our mobile dental unit to a location where they feel safe and supported we can give them the best possible chance of accessing care.”
Penny Chapman, Bupa dental care area manager in Northern Ireland, said: “We’re proud to partner with two such important charities, Dentaid The Dental Charity and Simon Community NI, to help harder-to-reach communities in Northern Ireland get the dental care they need and deserve.”
Simon Community NI chief executive Jim Dennison welcomed the partnership, saying: “This initiative will help give people their smiles back. Oral care can be extremely challenging for those experiencing homelessness and can cause people to become insecure about speaking or smiling, which further impacts their social isolation.”
The clinic will also be visiting site in Bangor and Belfast.