Dr Ben Atkins BDS


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Dr Ben Atkins BDS

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Hard to reach patient groups

21st December 2016

Throughout my career, I’ve been aware of hard to reach patient groups. In particular, I have tried to offer dental services to the homeless around Manchester. This month, BDJ In Practice Magazine has published a feature on hard to reach patient groups. The story of my Practices’ work in this area is highlighted by the Editor, David Westgarth.

Hard to reach patient groups

In my view, dental care for homeless people is as essential as it is complex. Homeless people have similar levels of dental disease to the housed population, but with much higher levels of untreated disease. Patients from different centres have different levels of disease, from Dickensian decay, to a patient needing a few fillings. It’s a stable but
hardcore group of people. It might sound like an impossible task treating these hard to reach patient groups, but the basics stay the same.

It’s about behaviour change. Patients often take their anti-psychotic medication inappropriately, and relapse into opioid usage. Patients often reported a reduction in ability to eat associated with painful oral conditions. We can intervene. It’s a case of understanding. What you often find is patients develop a problem and don’t know where to go. To deal with the pain, their alcohol intake or their drug use increases. The problem doesn’t go away. The pain increases over time. Their substance misuse increases. It’s a vicious circle.

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