With a study published recently finding the prevalence of dental problems to be three times greater in homeless people than other Australians, Dr Deborah Cole, head of Dental Health Services Victoria (DHSV), is putting her mouth where her money is at Vinnie’s 2014 CEO Sleepout.
Speaking before embarking on a night under the stars at Etihad Stadium, Dr Cole said marginalised members of the Victorian community often go without dental treatment because of costs and psychological pressures associated with homelessness. She said combatting the endemic problem of poor dental hygiene among homeless people was very important in the fight to help marginalised citizens back into society.
“I’m sleeping out to show the important role oral health plays in enabling wider community health and wellbeing,” Dr Cole said. “Dental treatment and health promotion activities can help to restore confidence and dietary habits in marginalised people, and provide positive health outcomes.”
DHSV’s most recent statistics show 1322 patients across the state identified as homeless in 2012-2013, but true numbers are believed to be far higher, due to the social stigma associated with being homeless. “Becoming homeless is not as simple as just losing a house to live in” said Dr Cole, “it incorporates a huge number of personal and social challenges, and access to health care and dental care is a large part of that.”
Donate to St Vincent de Paul and Deb’s CEO Sleepout here.