8 March 2024

Community service helps homeless access dental care


 Homeless people are able to access essential and urgent dental care thanks to a community dental service being provided at a homelessness project by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The Trust’s Community and Special Care Dentistry team have an established fortnightly clinic at The Archer Project located behind Sheffield Cathedral, where they can provide care to homeless people without an appointment.

The service can help to treat potentially serious or debilitating dental problems, and help with general wellbeing and confidence.

It first started in the 1990s, working out of the library at the Cathedral on a monthly basis and providing basic treatments. It has since developed into today’s servicewhich provides a wide range of treatments including fillings, extractions and pain relief. Patients who require more complicated treatment can be referred onto other community dental services.

Dentist Rebecca Smithson has been working with the service for three years.

She said: “It is very enjoyable and rewarding part of my job and we get good engagement from homeless people accessing the dental service. It makes a big difference to the dental health of people experiencing homelessness.

“We do see a huge amount of dental decay, and a lot of the time people require urgent treatment. People often queue from 7:30am to get in.

“Sometimes people who have been homeless get settled and come back to the Archer Project as volunteers. I can think of patients we have made dentures for and it helps them in their rehabilitation and gives them more confidence for the future.

“One man who had all his teeth out and replaced by dentures came back to say thank you and said he had since got a job.”

Patient Dave Hill, who has been homeless for six months and sleeping rough, had a filling done at the clinic.

He said: “It is useful to be able to see a dentist. It makes a difference that you can see someone when you need it because it is not easy when you are homeless.

“I think in the past I had an infection in one of my teeth that they sorted out for me.”

Further improvements to the facilities are being funded by the South Yorkshire ICB.

Joe Logan, Fundraising Manager at The Archer Project, said: “Giving the people we support access to dental care within The Project itself is an incredibly valuable service to our charity.”

 

Pictured are dentist Rebecca Smithson (left), dental nurse Angela Fisher, and patient Dave Hill



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