General medical practitioners’ knowledge and management of oral and dental problems

Elissa Biniecki, Caitlyn Foote, Grace Gilbert, Paul Abbott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Many patients with oral and dental problems seek help from medical practitioners rather than from dentists. Little is known about why this occurs in Australia and how medical practitioners manage these problems.
Aims: The aims were to: 1) provide insight into why patients seek treatment for oral and dental problems from medical practitioners, 2) assess how these patients were managed by medical practitioners, and 3) assess medical practitioners’ perception of their knowledge of oral and dental problems.
Methods: An electronically distributed survey was completed by general medical practitioners who were members of the Australian Medical Association in Western Australia. The survey had 19 questions with a combination of both quantitative and qualitative responses. All responses were anonymous.
Results: From 130 responses, the most common reasons for patients to present with dental-related issues to general medical practitioners included: cost of dental consults, perceived need for antibiotics, ease of access and immediate relief of pain. Respondents reported that 68 per cent of presentations were during typical business hours. Antibiotic (83 per cent) and analgesic (91 per cent) prescriptions followed by referral to dentists (76 per cent) were the most frequently reported managements. About half the respondents felt their knowledge of oral and dental problems was adequate while 35 per cent felt it was inadequate and 16 per cent felt it was deficient in some areas.
Conclusion: Patients present to medical practitioners mainly for pain relief or antibiotic prescription. Most practitioners manage these cases with antibiotic and analgesic prescriptions. Practitioners’ knowledge of dental-related problems varies with about half feeling it could be improved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)390-396
Number of pages7
JournalAustralasian Medical Journal
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


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