Cancer Screening

April 2009

Clinical

Solving dental problems in general practice

Volume 38, No.4, April 2009 Pages 211-216

Angus Kingon

Background

Dentistry is a small component of the undergraduate medical curriculum, however many patients with oral disease seek advice from their doctor. Problems include dental pain, abscesses, avulsed teeth and fractured jaws. Some patients associate the concept of dental treatment with negative emotions (ie. fear), and doctors are generally seen as caring professionals who might provide reassurance and guidance.

Objective/s

Solving dental problems often requires operative treatment which doctors cannot provide. Options may seem limited to antibiotics and analgesics, however neither treatment may be effective, and antibiotic treatment may be inappropriate. This article aims to provide practical advice to doctors regarding patients with dental problems.

Discussion

Common dental problems such as acute pain, bleeding tooth sockets, and trauma are rarely life threatening but are time consuming for the medical practitioner and require immediate solutions. Suggestions for diagnosis and early management are offered.

Patients with acute dental pain and other oral problems commonly present to emergency departments and general practices – especially after hours – due to difficulty in locating a dentist or for other reasons such as financial issues.

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Correspondence afp@racgp.org.au

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