The British Journal of General Practice has published the results of a new study that has highlighted that 380,000 patients present at their GP surgeries every year with dental issues because they are more likely to secure an appointment with their GP than with their dentist. The study suggests that this outcome is simply putting already overstretched GPs under undue pressure, and that the GPs are not trained to diagnose or treat dental concerns.
“Access issues force dental patients to turn to their GPs“
According to the study, the South, the South East and London have an abundance of dental practices and relatively low numbers of patients per capita, whereas the North and the East of England have on average fewer dental practices and more patients to accommodate within them. However, the hardest hit area in England for access to a dental practice and sheer volume of patients is in the East and West Midlands, where there are on average more than 6,000 patients per practice. This is despite the fact that between 2016 and 2017 the number of dental care professionals increased by around 2,000 and the number of dentists increased by 222. The study points out that the answer might lie in the large numbers leaving the profession altogether.