UCLan dentists help Lancaster community groups to fill the gap
Dentistry academics help refugees in need of oral health care
Dental experts from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) have been helping two local community groups to improve oral health.
RAIS (Refugee, Advocacy, Information and Support) and East Meets West, both based in Lancaster, invited UCLan dentistry staff to work with refugees living in the city to provide oral cancer screening and deliver oral health education.
The initiative is part of UCLan’s public engagement commitment and allowed the dentists to treat around 70 patients, many of which haven’t had access to dental care for some time.
Professor of Oral Surgery at UCLan Kathryn Taylor said: “We knew that many of the people seeking support from both charities have been through very difficult circumstances and looking after their dental health won’t be a priority.
“We screened for oral cancer and other potentially life-changing conditions as well as delivering oral health education for women and children and identifying any clinical issues.
"We screened for oral cancer and other potentially life-changing conditions as well as delivering oral health education for women and children"— Professor of Oral Surgery at UCLan Katherine Taylor
“As UCLan runs a Dental Education Centre (DEC) in Morecambe, where dentistry students treat patients under supervision, we were able to refer patients on for follow-up treatments at no cost because they are helping with vital clinical training.”
Jane Lippitt, a volunteer with East Meets West, said: “The visit was very much appreciated by the women of East Meets West. We are very grateful to Katherine and her team of dental hygienists for coming to visit our group, not only for the oral screening but the valuable oral health education which they delivered so well to the mums and their children.”
UCLan’s School of Medicine and Dentistry is now hoping to open up the service to other local charities and organisations and allow its dentistry students to be involved in the triage process to benefit both patients and the next generation of dentists.
Katherine added: “Dentistry access in the North West is poor so the UCLan DEC’s play an important role in allows graduate entry Bachelor of Dental Surgery students to gain their clinical experience in areas of high need and poor dental health.
“Many local people don’t know that the Morecambe DEC exists so I hope that initiatives such as this help to raise its profile within the community.”