Problems with access to dentistry are resulting in nearly 400,000 people consulting GPs about dental problems each year, a study has found.
This is despite the fact that many of these patients would be better treated by dental practitioners, with antibiotics often over-prescribed in general practice dental consultations, according to the paper published in the British Journal of General Practice.
The study found patients are confused about the roles of dentists and GPs, but generally found the GP appointment system easier to negotiate.
Many also had previous negative experience of dentistry or were put off by the cost of dental care.
The researchers recommended that dentists ensure patients can have rapid consultations without lengthy waits.
Dr Steve Mowle, honorary treasurer at the Royal College of GPs, said GPs are not trained to treat dental problems, which are best left to the care of a professional dentist.
“With GPs already seeing more than a million patients in the UK every day, and increasing number of patients waiting more than a week to see a GP, seeing patients with dental problems isn’t the best use of our time, and anyone who does try to book an appointment for a dental problem will most likely be referred to an appropriate alternative,” he added.