From 2016 ISTAT data. Absolute and relative poverty of families is increasing. In Italy, 1.5% of the national health expenditure is devoted to public dentistry, only 40% of the population go to the dentist and of these, 87% are treated by private dentists: 76% of children under 5 years of age and 35 % of children between 6 and 10 years of age have never had a dental check-up.
The constant reduction of public resources, in the face of an increase in needs, has led to an alarming phenomenon of going without treatment.

Dental care sees a limited commitment and a low coverage by the National Health Service, despite the health and social implications that dental pathologies have on the general health of citizens and that access to dental services are priority objectives of public health, especially for children, the elderly and the chronically ill.

The goal of the project is to guarantee dental treatment for the less wealthy part of the population, including poor children and immigrants, and start a prevention programme linked to learning good preventive practices in terms of oral hygiene and care.

So, preventing and thus contributing to reducing health inequalities in the dental field. The needs of the local area were identified through the analysis of the local demographic, epidemiological and socio-economic situation, related to the dental sector. The analysis adopted a bottom-up philosophy. In particular, the collection and analysis of the health and social demand for this area was used through the collaboration and active participation of the social actors of the area concerned.

Direct beneficiaries

  • Minors, adults and the elderly coming from the weaker sections of the population.
  • When fully operational, we estimate to be able to provide, through the network being established, more than 2,500 free dental interventions per year.

Indirect beneficiaries

  • The National Health Service.
  • Residential reception communities for minors entrusted to social services.
  • Family nuclei in situations of socio-economic vulnerability, also followed within the scope of national measures for active inclusion (Sia/Rei).

The Umberto I Society for Night Shelters, making use of the extensive experience acquired by the free-service dental clinic operating at the Turin Branch and supported by the strong aggregative capacity of the specialist voluntary sector, has decided to expand its operations in this specific healthcare field by opening of new dental clinics in the cities of Perugia, Massa Marittima, Genoa and Ivrea, that will be added to that of the Headquarters and those in Camerano and Pinerolo, thus creating, as the only example in Italy, a multi-regional network of free specialist healthcare in this sector.

The improvement in oral health through pain therapy and conservative interventions (fillings, endodontics and reconstruction) and, consequently, health in general with relative improvement in quality of life. Effective primary prevention (tartar removal, motivation and education for maintaining good oral hygiene). Cognitive benefits of users (improvement in self-esteem, global well-being, reduction of social isolation). Indirect financial return (reduction of the costs of the National Health Service).

When fully operational, through the network being established, it is estimated to be able to treat over 1,000 patients/year for a total of over 2,500 interventions.

Activities

  • Communication and sending of an informative leaflet to the Public Relations Office of the Local Health Authorities of the Cities and Regions involved, in order to make the service accessible to citizens in the weakest groups.
  • Dissemination of information material in local social services and voluntary associations of the Municipalities involved.
  • Implementation of informal events in the individual locations, to advertise and disseminate the initiative in collaboration with the Umberto I Night Shelters.
  • Inclusion of a notification of the initiative on the website of the Umberto I Night Shelters and publications in regional newspapers and trade magazines.

Monitoring of results
Activities are planned to evaluate the success or possible failure of the initiative in question. The evaluation will be expressed through an ex-ante, in progress and ex-post evaluation of the service offered. An analysis will be carried out of the expected results related to the maintenance and protection of oral hygiene, which can be translated into:

  • pain therapy, conservative interventions, fillings, endodontics and reconstruction, primary prevention, i.e. tartar removal and health education aimed at motivating users to maintain good oral hygiene, cognitive benefits, financial return related to supplementary interventions that reduce the public expenditure of the NHS, analysis of the incidence-prevalence of dental diseases at the local (and regional) level, subsequent assessment questionnaire to measure the level of user satisfaction with the service offered

The project takes up and develops the operational activity in the field of social dentistry already in place in the Turin headquarters of the Night Shelters and at the Camerana and Pinerolo clinics (the latter very recently opened).

As regards the equipment, over 70% has already been purchased or made available by private benefactors. The premises that will be used for the clinics are already available, mainly consisting of residential units provided on loan by private individuals and local public bodies. The renovation, also supported by the contribution of local volunteer groups, is proceeding as planned and already covers more than 50% of the entire project.

Project name: We’ll bring your smile back. Social Dentistry Network
Proposing organisation: Umberto I Society for Night Shelters
Starting date: 01/01/2017
End date: 01/06/2019 estimated