Smile Wide—Smile Free! Titchfield Dental helps the homeless live with pride
Life is hard if you are homeless, with dental care low on a list that starts with food and shelter.
Which is why we joined forces with Dentaid, to help lift the lives of homeless people throughout the South East—by giving them the best teeth and smile they could wish for.
Dentaid is a charitable trust that covers the UK and overseas to improve access to safe, sustainable dental care. Once a month, every month, a Dentaid mobile dental unit visits a hostel, day centre or night centre in the UK, with a select dental team on board to tend the needs of people who are not registered for NHS dental care.
TDH practice owner, Dr Clare Chavasse, comments:
“Dentaid bought the mobile unit in 2018 and parked it at TDH, where we prepared her for action. We’ve christened her Flossie and go wherever we are needed in our region.”
CASE STUDY: Patrick House, Southampton
In June 2019, Flossie docked at Patrick House in Southampton, an assessment and accommodation centre run by Two Saints, a charity dedicated to ‘rebuilding lives for a brighter future.’
Flossie at Patrick House cabled for power and ready to help the homeless.
Here, Clare and her team donated their services freely for the whole day. Everyone received friendly dental screening, advice and treatment—with all the one-on-one reassurance needed. And it worked, as you can see:
Lead dentist, Clare, Anne Scholey (Senior Dental Nurse and Oral Health Educator) and Ruth Chaplin (Hygienist) bring a proud smile to a Patrick House resident.
How do we do it?
Homeless people tend to become invisible and their confidence and trust plummets, so we give everyone time, attention and expertise—it’s a formula that works:
• Friendly welcome
• Chat so we can all get to know each other
• Time and attention
• Oral health examination
• Oral hygiene advice and complementary pack of dental products
• Screening for oral cancer
• Recommendation for any treatment
• Choice whether to have treatment
Patients present with a whole range of dental challenges, including oral hygiene issues, tooth decay, missing teeth, injury from street violence and chronic pain. We can help if they agree to a treatment plan and show up for future appointments.
Why do we do it?
Because “it’s a way of giving back, for all the opportunities that dentistry has afforded me,” says Clare.
“It’s ironic, too, as I started TDH from a van in a Titchfield car park over 30 years ago. So, I’ve come full circle, with Flossie reminding me never to take anything for granted.”
All for one and one for all!
Here are three TDH Tusketeers, Clare, Anne and Max, ready to welcome patients on board Flossie. Max volunteers her time to collect patient details such as medical histories, current state of health, medication, diet and general wellbeing, so that the optimum dental treatment is planned.
“Homeless people are vulnerable in that they feel outside of life and struggle with their confidence and trust. Without this mobile unit people with dental emergencies would have to go to their nearest hospital.
“We are serious about improving their dental health but take things slowly, building a caring environment, with a bit of banter, reassuring expertise and, above all, first class dental care.
“We see up to 20 people per visit. They often come in for a chat, then maybe an inspection and then progress to treatment. Others come with a problem and we endeavour to help them. Repeat appointments are achieved but quite often we return to find the patient has moved on.”
Here’s a wise man who didn’t move on—Carl, who took beaming pride in our denture skills…
Before: A dazzling, albeit roomy, smile. After: An even more dazzling, owner-occupied smile.
And another delighted patient, Elizabeth from the USA, enthuses about the service:
“This will be the second time I have come to the dentist. I was very scared the first time as I had a bad experience earlier in my life. A dentist cut my mouth with an X-ray plate, leaving me in agony. These people are so gentle and kind. They explained everything to me, asked my permission to proceed and reassured me at every stage. I am so grateful.”
Get involved— help fund oral health for the homeless
Fundraising is central to any charity. In Hampshire, Dentaid recently received £5K from the Rotary Club which will fund 12 monthly clinics in Salisbury and eight in Southampton, and Two Saints must raise £400 per day to have the mobile unit on site.
If you would like to contribute to oral health for the homeless, please contact Practice Manager, Sharon Nanson: 01489 581158 / firstname.lastname@example.org