Prolonged homelessness impacts dental and oral health. People experiencing homelessness cannot easily access basic dental services due to a lack of money or insurance to cover the cost, and the inability to make and meet appointments. As a result, they have unmet restorative needs and poor hygienic care. The longer an individual experiences homelessness, the greater the number of missing or decayed teeth and the higher the presence of periodontal disease.
Individuals experiencing homelessness is a special-needs group characterized by an increased prevalence of ill-health, chaotic lifestyles, deprivation and social exclusion. Dental fears and anxieties about the appearance of their teeth are real concerns for this client group and must be incorporated into planning health care services.
To be effective, an oral care program has dental care professionals collaborating with community care workers to understand and meet the needs of marginalized individuals. Unfortunately, in many instances, such programs rely on volunteers and are not able to meet the demand for dental care. There is a strong need for proper and accessible dental and oral treatment for marginalized people in Canada.