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.
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.
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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