People in Dewsbury who are finding it difficult to access dental care are receiving free treatment on a mobile dental unit operated by the charity Dentaid.
And there is still time to attended the final few sessions.
Tomorrow and on Monday and Tuesday, the service will be available for three sessions, at the following places.
September 29, The Greenwood Centre, Huddersfield Road, Dewsbury, from noon to 4.30pm; and on October 2 and 3, Thornhill Lees Community Centre, Brewery Lane, 3pm to 7pm each day.
More than 150 people have already attended the unit that is visiting schools, community centres and public buildings.
The project started last Monday when 21 people received pain relieving dental treatment at a clinic held at Pentland Infant School.
The first patient, Phillip Rushforth, had five teeth extracted after suffering weeks of dental pain that was preventing him sleeping. Philip said he had been unable to register with an NHS dentist in the town.
The mobile dental unit also visited Mirfield Community Centre, Dewsbury Town Hall and Chickenley Community Centre.
The team has seen up to 30 patients a day and extracted around 100 painful teeth. They have also seen children in dental pain including one who had to be referred for multiple extractions under general anaesthetic.
The clinics are providing emergency pain relieving treatments including extractions and fillings along with oral health advice and teeth screening.
Treatments are free and people just turn up and wait to be seen. Some patients have been arriving in tears due to excruciating dental pain and leaving with smiles on their faces following treatment.
The project has been funded by Kirklees Council which awarded Dentaid a £7,060 grant.
It follows a pilot project in Dewsbury, launched in December 2015, which provided dental care for 150 people over seven months. Some of those patients had developed dental problems while they were on a dentist’s waiting list and others were vulnerable people who found it hard to access regular treatment.
More than a year after the pilot project finished there are still reports of two year waiting lists to register with an NHS dentist in Dewsbury. Local MP Paula Sherriff, who has raised concerns about access to dental care in the constituency in parliament, has also visited the clinic.
The volunteers on the mobile dental unit are led by dentist Nick O’Donovan from Dewsbury Dental Centre. The project is also an opportunity for foundation dentists to gain experience of outreach clinics in community settings.
“The beauty of the mobile dental unit is that we can take a dental service right to the people who need it most,” said Dentaid CEO Andrew Evans. “We understand there are many reasons why people might not be able to access dental treatment and we want to help people out of immediate pain before offering them advice about accessing regular dental care.”
Coun Cathy Scott, cabinet lead for public health at Kirklees Council said: “We know that not everyone is registered with a dentist and that some people find it difficult to pay for dental care. By supporting this project we can make sure that the most vulnerable people in our communities can access support to relieve pain and prevent future problems occurring.
“The mobile clinic will be in easy to reach, well known locations and I would encourage anyone who is concerned about their dental health and doesn’t have access to dental care at the moment to pop along and see one of these volunteer dentists.”
Dentaid purchased the mobile dental unit last year and it’s used for regular outreach clinics at day centres and homeless shelters. Dentaid is currently fundraising so it can bring the mobile dental unit to other parts of the UK. To donate log on to https://dentaid.org/donate/
Dentaid was founded in 1996 and works to improve oral health around the world. The charity sends volunteer dental professionals and reconditioned equipment to support the work of dentists in poor and remote communities. Dentaid also runs education, training and toothbrushing programmes. In 2015 Dentaid expanded its work to the UK with an oral health education programme called BrightBites and the purchase of the mobile dental unit.