[Hpn] Homelessness and Dental Hygiene

Lucinda Houston lucy@efn.org
Tue, 28 Nov 2000 10:23:03 -0800


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When I am "homed", I brush constantly, several times a day.  When =
homeless, I did not have that luxury, I was lucky to brush once a day.  =
Though temporary, but of long duration, homelessness took its toll on =
the health of my teeth.. you know, all that hidden bacteria that is =
under the surface of your gums.  I suffered bone loss (which only an =
xray can make apparent), to the extent that I must keep a vigil.
I've only ever had one cavity, which is filled, but again, what goes on =
underneath the gums, and the regular brushing you need to prevent the =
bacteria from eating away at the bone is most important.

Access to bathrooms/sinks:

As a taxi driver, who was out and about and had to find restrooms, I =
found the library, which was at a stand location, and an outdoor =
bathroom outside a restaurant were good to use in one town.  The =
restaurant had a "customers only" sign added, and has now remodeled and =
enclosed the restroom so that you have to go in.
I wasn't too shy as a taxi driver, but as a homeless person.. well, you =
feel a little more self conscious.
In the other town, there was first place, for homeless families, with  =
bathroom facilities, but you might not be close to them and you might be =
single and not an eligible client.  Then there was the underbridge park.
One thing I noticed at the restaurant and the park.. you might have a =
long wait if the person who stepped in ahead of you happened to be =
shooting up heroin.  It happened to me at the (outdoor bathroom) at the =
restaurant once or twice, and a few times at the park.  One time a guy =
forgot to lock the door at the park, and since the kids and myself were =
about busting, I went in and hussled him out.  He was pretty high.
In Oregon, the dental program was opened up to adults which was good =
news for some.  I know one man who was finally able to get all his bad =
teeth pulled and got dentures for a nice smile (and eating!)  Another =
fellow I knew, Dale Harness (once president of the Homeless Coalition in =
Tucson, Arizona) who had come up to Eugene shortly after I did, who was =
happily getting medical and dental (through the jobs program??) and =
landed himself a job which he held for a very long time (over a year =
that I know of.  Last I heard from him he was planning on moving back =
where his family was). =20
I had read sometime ago that they were thinking about removing adults =
from dental services, but I hope they don't.  That care is vital and =
important to any and all who can access it.


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<DIV><FONT size=3D2>When I am "homed", I brush constantly, several times =
a=20
day.&nbsp; When homeless, I did not have that luxury, I was lucky to =
brush once=20
a day.&nbsp; Though temporary, but of long duration, homelessness took =
its toll=20
on the health of my teeth.. you know, all that hidden bacteria that is =
under the=20
surface of your gums.&nbsp; I suffered bone loss (which only an xray can =
make=20
apparent), to the extent that I must keep a vigil.</FONT></DIV>
<DIV><FONT size=3D2>I've only ever had one cavity, which is filled, but =
again,=20
what goes on underneath the gums, and the regular brushing you need to =
prevent=20
the bacteria from eating away at the bone is most =
important.</FONT></DIV>
<DIV>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV><FONT size=3D2>Access to bathrooms/sinks:</FONT></DIV>
<DIV>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV><FONT size=3D2>As a taxi driver, who was out and about and had to =
find=20
restrooms, I found the library, which was at a stand location, and an =
outdoor=20
bathroom outside a restaurant were good to use in one town.&nbsp; The =
restaurant=20
had a "customers only" sign added, and has now remodeled and enclosed =
the=20
restroom so that you have to go in.</FONT></DIV>
<DIV><FONT size=3D2>I wasn't too shy as a taxi driver, but as a homeless =
person..=20
well, you feel a little more self conscious.</FONT></DIV>
<DIV><FONT size=3D2>In the other town, there was first place, for =
homeless=20
families, with&nbsp; bathroom facilities, but you might not be close to =
them and=20
you might be single and not an eligible client.&nbsp; Then there was the =

underbridge park.</FONT></DIV>
<DIV><FONT size=3D2>One thing I noticed at the restaurant and the park.. =
you might=20
have a long wait if the person who stepped in ahead of you happened to =
be=20
shooting up heroin.&nbsp; It happened to me at the (outdoor bathroom) at =
the=20
restaurant once or twice, and a few times at the park.&nbsp; One time a =
guy=20
forgot to lock the door at the park, and since the kids and myself were =
about=20
busting, I went in and&nbsp;hussled him out.&nbsp; He was pretty=20
high.</FONT></DIV>
<DIV><FONT size=3D2>In Oregon, the dental program was opened up to =
adults which=20
was good news for some.&nbsp; I know one man who was finally able to get =
all his=20
bad teeth pulled and got dentures for a nice smile (and eating!)&nbsp; =
Another=20
fellow I knew, Dale Harness (once president of the Homeless Coalition in =
Tucson,=20
Arizona) who had come up to Eugene shortly after I did, who was happily =
getting=20
medical and dental (through the jobs program??) and landed himself a job =
which=20
he held for a very long time (over a year that I know of.&nbsp; Last I =
heard=20
from him he was planning on moving back where his family was).&nbsp;=20
</FONT></DIV>
<DIV><FONT size=3D2>I had read sometime ago that they were thinking =
about removing=20
adults from dental services, but I hope they don't.&nbsp; That care is =
vital and=20
important to any and all who can access it.</FONT></DIV>
<DIV>&nbsp;</DIV></BODY></HTML>

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