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Healthy mouths

July 05 2017
Groundswell spoke to over 260 people experiencing homelessness about their dental health. There are problems...

Groundswell spoke to over 260 people experiencing homelessness about their health. We found that 90 per cent had a problem with their mouth and 70 per cent had lost teeth since becoming homeless.

Nearly a third had struggled to find a dentist, though about the same proportion (30 per cent) were currently in pain.

"When I got my teeth sorted it was amazing. It took me ages to stop putting my hand over my mouth. Even just seeing the look in people’s eyes. I don’t know if they sensed that I was more at ease with myself when I smiled. They could smile with me. I actually feel that getting my teeth sorted has helped me to turn a corner. They don’t hurt anymore and I’m not drinking now. I’m not embarrassed. I can start looking to the future."
– Groundswell Research

If you don’t have a dentist, the easiest way to find one is to call 111. 

They will ask your name, date of birth and the postcode for the area you are in and can search for local dentists who are taking NHS patients.

Visit the dentist regularly to check that both your teeth and mouth are healthy, even if you don’t have any natural teeth left.

But you should also look after your own teeth. Here’s how:

1  Brush your teeth twice a day. Brushing last thing at night is really important. If your gums bleed, brush again.
2.  Clean between your teeth every day using floss or small brushes. Toothpaste must have fluoride in it. Only use toothpaste meant for adults.
3.  Do not rinse your mouth with water after you brush your teeth. Rinsing your mouth with water washes away the toothpaste.
4.  If you smoke or drink alcohol, going to the dentist is even more important.
5.  Cut down on sugary food and drinks and try to have them only with meals.
6.  If you use methadone, brush your teeth before and rinse your mouth with water after you take your methadone.

If you’re on most benefits, you can get NHS dentistry for free. You need to fill out an HC1 form which is easy to get online (most dentists and homelessness services can help). Having proof of your benefits may help when signing up: