Tooth Bus visits Southampton Homeless Shelter

The Tooth Bus was at the Two Saints shelter in Southampton offering free dental advice and check-ups to clients at the centre. The visit forms part of the Big Issue’s health week which is designed to provide health advice to their vendors and encourage them to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

Latest Department of Health figures show that oral health in Southampton is poor with fewer than half of people in Southampton having been to a dentist in the last two years. The problems are particularly marked amongst homeless people who are a high risk group for suffering from oral and dental disease. The chaotic nature of a homeless person’s

lifestyle can prevent them from developing routines of eating and personal hygiene. A recent survey by the Big Issue showed that 46% of Big Issue vendors had problems with their teeth.

Shapour Hariri, Director of the Tooth Bus which is run on behalf of  the NHS England Local Area Team for Southampton said: “People living rough or living in temporary accommodation often experience dental health issues which can go on to cause long term problems and oral disease. It is therefore particularly important to ensure that homeless people and families with children are able to access dental services, as oral and dental health problems in children can not only be traumatic and painful, but can also lead to continuing problems throughout adult life.

Part of the role of the Tooth Bus is to work with local communities around Hampshire to teach them the importance of good oral hygiene. Everyone should see a dentist regularly for preventative care and advice – not just attend when they need treatment or are in pain. National guidance is that adults should attend every 6-24 months, and children every 3-12 months. 

Michelle White, Day Centre Manager at Two Saints said: “Having the Tooth Bus parked at the Centre is fantastic resource for our clients, many of whom have not been near a dentist for many years.   We know that for a lot of people fear plays a large part in not visiting a dentist. We feel sure that having a service like Tooth Bus that is so easily accessible, will provide them with the support and reassurance that they need to seek help and advice.”  

To find an NHS dentist across Southampton, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth, visit www.hampshiredentalhelpline.nhs.uk or call 0845 050 8345.