COMMENT: We hope that funding can be found for more clinics

When was the last time you went to the dentist? For the vast majority of us, check-ups, hygienist appointments and fillings if necessary are a part of life.

Thursday, 16th December 2021, 12:00 am

We don't stop to think how fortunate we are to have access to treatment when we need it.

But what if you're homeless? Living on the streets can have an impact on health. Diets may be poor and teeth often end up being neglected because people can't get the dental care they require.

In Portsmouth, some 40 homeless people have been offered free treatment from students at the University of Portsmouth’s dental academy as part of a pioneering scheme.

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For the past month patients have attended a two-hour clinic every Wednesday afternoon at the academy’s state-of-the-art centre in the city.

They have received treatment from trainee hygienists, dental nurses and dental therapists - who in turn have been able to put into practice all that they have learned.

It's a great initiative and we applaud dental academy clinical teaching fellow Janani Sivabalan, who came up with the idea as she wanted to find out what barriers the homeless faced in seeking dental care.

She says it's been an emotional experience on both sides, with students moved by the stories they have heard from the homeless and patients so grateful to be looked after.

To people like 52-year-old Barry Wilson, who has been homeless since 2015, it has been a 'Godsend'. They've been able to get free care and not be judged because of their circumstances.

As well as offering dental care, the university has worked alongside its in-house eye clinic service to provide extra treatment to those who need it.

Now we just hope the funding can be found to run another clinic, because the demand is definitely there.