Time to take down barriers pushing dental patients to GPs
Based on interviews with GP attenders, the study, published in the British Journal of General Practice, found issues around greater accessibility of GP services, previous experiences of dental care, including dental anxiety, and willingness and ability to pay for dental care.
Patients with urgent dental problems (including toothache and abscesses) typically require some form of operative intervention, which GPs are neither trained nor equipped to provide. These patients are usually referred on to a dentist. The study reports many respondents were simply unaware of the existence of emergency dental services.
The BDA estimate that the 380,000 GP consultations referenced in the study cost the NHS £20.8 million. Previous research has estimated 57 per cent of all patients with dental problems are provided with antibiotics, which are not a cure for dental pain.
Nearly one in five patients have delayed treatment for reasons of cost according to official surveys. NHS Charges have increased by over 23 per cent in the last five years, while the Government’s direct spend per head on NHS dentistry has fallen £4.95, from £40.95 to £36.