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Homeless offered dental checks to help curb mouth cancer rise

Homeless adults in Birmingham recently benefitted from free check-ups and oral health advice, thanks to a partnership between Birmingham Community Healthcare’s special care dental service and the Salvation Army.

The dental team recently visited the William Booth Centre for homeless adults in Birmingham as part of the Oral Health Foundation’s  Mouth Cancer Campaign,  to break down barriers to accessing dental care and raise awareness about the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer among this often ‘hard-to-reach’ community.

Speciality trainee registrar dentist Jennifer Perry (pictured second left) said: “The number of mouth cancer cases in the UK have risen by over a third in the last decade and as most are linked to tobacco use, drinking alcohol, poor diet, and the human papilloma virus (HPV), homeless adults are particularly at risk of the disease.”

Homeless adults benefit from dental check ups to help prevent mouth cancer
From left: Kelly Bent, dental nurse; Jennifer Perry, speciality trainee registrar dentist; Reece Brevitt, service user; Kerry Wafer, specialist dental nurse and Martyn Evan from the Salvation Army

As well as demonstrating how to improve oral hygiene, the dental team provided practical advice on how to make healthy lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of mouth cancer. They also spoke to adults about checking for changes in the mouth; such as ulcers which do not heal within three weeks, red and white patches in the mouth and lumps or swellings in the mouth, head or neck area; and shared local knowledge about where to go for follow-up services.

More than 1,800 people in the UK lose their life from mouth cancer each year. Sadly many of these deaths could be prevented if the cancer is detected early enough through routine dental check-ups, yet for many homeless adults there are considerable barriers to accessing and accepting dental care.

Jennifer added: “The visit to the William Booth Centre was not a one-off – we provide a ‘drop-in’ dental clinic every Thursday afternoon at Attwood Green Health Centre in Bath Row, Birmingham. This clinic is dedicated to supporting vulnerable homeless adults with access to dental care and links with health care partnerships.”

Do you wish to refer a patient to the special care dental service?

Visit their webpage or contact Kerry Wafer on 07860 783117.