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Pain in the teeth

July 01 2021

We all have a right to healthcare, but many believe our teeth aren’t covered. Sheryle Thomas speaks to the homeless health service with a dental surgery

There is nothing worse than experiencing dental pain, especially when you have no address or income to access dentist surgeries.

When I was homeless in 1998, I used a homeless health service provided by Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust (CLCH) at Great Chapel Street Surgery, which provided fantastic health care to anyone without an address. Now they have a dental surgery to help the homeless community look after their teeth.

I emailed the homeless dental service at CLCH to ask some questions you are probably thinking about on how to access this service.

Who can visit the dentist service?

The CLCH Homeless Dental Clinic offers a service to anyone who is homeless.

How do I get referred to you?

Ideally, a referral from a healthcare professional, homeless outreach service or hostel manager is recommended. However, if this is not possible, we will also accept self-referrals from people who are homeless by directly calling or emailing the service.  

When are you open?

We are open for bookings from 9am5pm on Mondays and Fridays. Appointments are offered from Tuesdays to Fridays.

How long do I have to wait for an appointment once registered?

At the moment, due to the pandemic, we speak with you on the phone before we can book an appointment. The waiting time varies but on average is about two weeks. If you have an urgent problem, we will try and see you sooner.

What if my teeth are in pain?

Call us during office hours and we will try and see you urgently. Dial 111 out of hours.

What if I haven't got a phone?

Ask a friend, contact social worker, hostel manager, or a member of the homeless health team on the street to contact us on your behalf.

Can someone come with me to my appointment?

Due to the pandemic and social distancing measures, please come alone. If you need to bring a carer or advocate please contact us first.

What if I can’t speak English?

We can offer an interpreting service either over the phone or face-to-face. I'm rough sleeping and I'm not claiming benefits/ have no income.

Can I still access the dentist?

At our clinic there is no charge for the dental treatment that we provide.

Is there wheelchair access?

Our new purpose-built surgeries at Soho offer full wheelchair access.

What kind of dental treatment do you offer?

We offer a full range of NHS dental treatment. This includes examinations, cleaning, fillings, crowns/bridges, extractions and dentures. We do not provide implants or cosmetic treatment such as tooth whitening.  

If I require more work, what options are available to me?

We may need to refer you on to a specialist. I’m very worried about receiving dental care.

Will it hurt and are your staff supportive?

We try our best to be kind, patient and gentle. Modern local anaesthetics are safe and provide good pain relief whilst undergoing dental treatment. Our staff are experienced at dealing with anxious patients. If you don't feel able to receive treatment under local anaesthetic, we may be able to refer you to another clinic for sedation or general anaesthetic.

Why is it important to seek treatment early?

Dental problems are easier to fix when caught early. Leaving a dental problem for too long can lead to pain, infection and even tooth loss.

How can we help you to help us?

Turn up to your appointment on time. Cancel any appointment that you do not intend to keep at least 24 hours beforehand. Bring a list of any medications that you take.

You can call to book an appointment at CLCH Homeless Dental Clinic
on 0207 534 6628

In a nutshell

  • There are homeless health services providing dental care
  • At the Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust, this service is free and you don’t need a permanent address
  • Find more dental and healthcare services in the List.