05:39pm Friday 21 February 2020

Brisbane screening reveals widespread dental pain among homeless

The Oral Health Team, which included students and staff from The University of Queensland School of Dentistry, held the screening to assess the dental status of Brisbane people who have no home or are at risk of homelessness, and connect them with vital services.

Held at Brisbane’s RNA Showgrounds on May 25, the Oral Health Team attracted hundreds of guests as part of the Brisbane City Council event, Homeless Connect.

Dr Pauline Ford, Senior Lecturer in Dentistry and coordinator of the Oral Health Team said the screening offered students experience working with clients from various backgrounds, and insight into the oral health of the homeless.

“Over 90% required dental treatment, most urgently and some in significant pain,” she said.

The team connected guests with free public dental services in their local area, and provided essential oral health care advice, and products donated by Oral B.

“It was humbling to talk with the guests and help them in some way. As healthcare professionals we may not be able to change their situation, but we can make it more bearable by offering the information and tools they require to manage their health,” Dr Ford said.

“The people we screened were incredibly grateful, but I’m sure our team got as much out of being there.

“It’s so important our students gain varied experience and enter professional life equipped to interact with all members of the community.”

Joining UQ students and staff were members of the Australian Dental Association (Queensland Branch), the Dental Hygienists’ Association of Australia (Queensland Branch), and Queensland Health.

Among other services made available to guests were accommodation, employment, legal, Centrelink, Registrar General, and Medicare services.

The guests also had access to donated clothing, food, bedding, and toiletries.

Media: Dr Pauline Ford, UQ School of Dentistry (07 3365 8085 or p.ford@uq.edu.au).

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