Background: In Australia, because of inequity in dental service accessibility and affordability, patients can see general medical practitioners (GPs) for acute dental conditions.
Methods: This cross-sectional study consisted of surveys distributed to the board registered GPs practising in Australia. The main outcome measures included statistical analysis of GPs managing different dental emergency scenarios and their confidence and expectations in managing dental emergencies.
Results: A total of 425 GPs participated in the study. The sample primarily consisted of GPs practising in metropolitan clinics (n=315). Most participants reported that they would refer to the dentist for mobilised tooth (n=402). There was a negative correlation between GPs with 5-29 years of experience and traumatised tooth management (P<0.05). GPs aged between 40-49 years were more inclined to treat patients with mobilised teeth [Multivariate (MV): 0.42(0.09-0.74)]. However, GPs with 0-5 years of experience were less likely to manage patients with dental abscess [MV: -0.52(-0.80 - - 0.24)].
Conclusion: Most GPs refer dental emergencies to dentists. GP management of dental emergencies is predominantly palliative. Therefore, opportunities for collaborative practice models amongst GPs and dentists may be needed to bridge the gap in the regional and remote locations.