Homeless adults’ access to dental services and strategies to improve their oral health: a systematic literature review Academic Article uri icon


  • Homeless people have poor oral health and high treatment needs, yet tend to make problem-based dental visits. This review aimed to determine how and where homeless adults receive oral health care, the barriers that prevent homeless adults accessing dental care and find strategies to promote oral health to homeless adults. The databases MEDLINE via OvidSP, PubMed, CINAHL and Scopus were searched using the keywords: homeless, roofless, houseless, rough sleeper, couch surfer, shelter, hostel, dental and oral health. The inclusion criteria were: participants over the age of 17 years, studies written in English, based in developed countries and published after 2003. Selected articles were assessed using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool and data extracted were thematically analysed. Twenty-two studies met the inclusion criteria. Five main themes were found: how homeless people accessed dental care; factors affecting the uptake of care; strategies used to improve access to care; the effect of non-dental staff on dental care; and challenges with providing care to homeless people. Dental care for homeless adults was affected by numerous factors. Improving their access to dental services requires collaboration between support service providers, dental care to be near homeless populations and flexibility by dental services.

publication date

  • 2018