Investigation of the oral health needs for homeless people in specialist units in London, Cardiff, Glasgow and Birmingham

Prim Health Care Res Dev. 2011 Apr;12(2):135-44. doi: 10.1017/S1463423610000368.


Aim: The aim was to assess the oral health needs of homeless people in dedicated homeless dental units in London, Cardiff and Glasgow and a homeless shelter in Birmingham in order to allow recommendations for service delivery to be made for this socially excluded group.

Methodology: Two questionnaires were designed, one to be completed by homeless people and the other by members of the dental team. A total of seventeen staff working in homeless dentistry completed questionnaires. Of these, nine were dentists, seven were nurses and one was a therapist. Twenty-seven homeless adults took part in interview. Of these, 22 were under active treatment at a homeless dental clinic and the remaining five were from the Birmingham homeless shelter who were not receiving dental care.

Results and conclusion: This study found evidence that the oral health of homeless adults was poor, with a high level of dental need. The service use of homeless people is low, with low levels of registration and utilisation of accident and emergency services. In terms of the most suitable method of dental treatment, staff felt a dedicated homeless service was most appropriate, whereas there was almost an equal split of patients advocating the General Dental Service or the dedicated dental clinics.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dental Care
  • Dental Clinics
  • Dentistry*
  • England
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ill-Housed Persons*
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment*
  • Oral Health*
  • Specialization*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult