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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Nov-Dec 2019 : HOSTELS READ ONLINE
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Fix your teeth

March 01 2019
Record making: Crisis at Christmas 2018 dental team (including the writers of these mouth health hacks) provided 459 dental check-ups, 199 scale and polishes, 149 fillings and removed 118 teeth. They also teamed up with same-day denture charity Den-Tech to provide dentures for people who are missing teeth –  31 people got their smiles back by being given false teeth to fill in the gaps. © JD Record making: Crisis at Christmas 2018 dental team (including the writers of these mouth health hacks) provided 459 dental check-ups, 199 scale and polishes, 149 fillings and removed 118 teeth. They also teamed up with same-day denture charity Den-Tech to provide dentures for people who are missing teeth – 31 people got their smiles back by being given false teeth to fill in the gaps. © JD

Mouth health hacks from the dental experts

Not only can problems with your teeth lead to sleepless nights and dental pain, but they can also affect your self-esteem and your mood. Poor dental health and appearance can have implications for your mental health too.

Visiting a dentist can be the first step to improving your smile and can also be a key point on the road to recovery, say Janine Doughty, Pathway Homelessness and Inclusion Oral Health Fellow; Declan Cairns, a General Dental Practitioner in Glasgow and Ruth Freeman from University of Dundee.


Dental services for everyone

  • Even if you have no fixed address, you can get access to dental services in England and Scotland. Just ask.
  • If you are living in England and have a dental emergency, call NHS on 111 and they will provide advice about getting urgent dental treatment. 
  • If you don't have a dentist or can't get an emergency appointment, look at:
    - www.nhs.uk/pages/home.aspx
    - www.nhs.uk/conditions/toothache
  • Certain benefits entitle you to free dental care – make sure to bring proof of your benefits with you to any dental appointment.
  • Specific services have provisions for people going through homelessness, but everyone has the right to dental examination in UK.

Oral hygiene

  • You don’t need to wet your brush before you brush your teeth. 
  • After brushing your teeth, spit, don’t rinse with water.
  • Dentists recommend brushing morning and night with a toothpaste containing fluoride. Brushing at night is the most important. 
  • Take out your denture before you go to sleep – brush it with toothpaste and cold water.

Dental decay and gum disease

  • Dental decay is caused by sugary foods and bacteria in plaque.  It can be prevented by cutting down on sugar and using a toothpaste containing fluoride. 
  • Gum disease is most commonly caused by plaque and smoking.  It can lead to wobbly teeth and tooth loss.

Sensitive teeth

  • If you have sensitive teeth you may have dental decay, so contact a dentist for a check-up. 
  • If your teeth are sensitive to the cold, sometimes rubbing Sensodyne toothpaste on the area can improve the sensation.

Mouth cancer  

  • Alcohol and smoking can lead to oral cancer.
  • If you smoke and drink, you must get a regular check-up.
  • Red and white patches or ulcers that last more than three weeks should always be checked by a dentist.
  • See a dentist or doctor if you feel lumps in your neck or jaw area, or persistent hoarseness of your voice. There is probably nothing seriously wrong, but an early diagnosis could save your life.

Diet and medications

  • The more times you have sugar in a day, the more likely you are to get dental decay. Limit sugary snacks to after meals and a maximum of three times daily.
  • Natural sugars such as those in honey or dried fruit also cause dental decay.
  • Try to reduce the amount of sugar you have in your tea, or use a sweetener.

Nervous about dentists?

  • Dental anxiety is very common – usually due to previous bad experiences. A couple of positive experiences can help.
  • There are various options for treatment available to people with dental phobia – such as sedation.

Methadone and your mouth

  • Sugar-free prescriptions of Methadone are available from your pharmacy – just ask.
  • After Methadone, rinse your mouth with fluoride mouthwash or chew sugar-free gum.

Dental pain and swelling

  • If you have dental pain for more than two days that doesn't improve with painkillers or if you have a temperature, swollen red gums and a bad taste in your mouth, you should see a dentist. 
  • If you have a dental problem which is causing swelling around your eye or your neck, especially if it is making it difficult to breathe, swallow or speak, go to A&E.
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