GPs seeing around six hundred thousand patients a year with dental problems
The BDA (British Dental Association) have revealed that more and more people in the UK are visiting their GP, instead of their dentist, with oral health related issues. Figures suggest that around six hundred thousand patients a year, roughly eleven thousand a week, are opting to seek help and advice from their doctor instead of the correct route of seeing a dentist. The BDA have attributed this to the increasing cost of NHS dentist appointments, as opposed to the free consultations offered at GPs practices. Inevitably this is adding to the pressures and time constraints of what is already an overstretched service. It is estimated that the cost of this issue is around twenty-six million pounds a year.
The question was raised whether it be cheaper, in the long run, to offer all dentist treatment on the NHS, as the knock on effect from people seeking dental treatment through NHS doctors and hospitals could end up costing more.
Ninety-six percent of GPs stated in the Comres Survey (2013) that a lot more should be done to discourage people with an oral or dental health problem from seeking help within their practices. In reality there is little more a GP can do in these situations other than prescribe antibiotics or pain relief.