A SURVEY of over 1000 GPs across the UK has found that 87 per cent believe that too many patients are turning to them for oral health advice instead of a dentist and this is putting unnecessary pressure on their practices.
The poll was commissioned by the Association of Dental Groups (ADG) to coincide with Mouth Cancer Action Month. It also revealed that 96% of GPs think more should be done to encourage patients to go to their dentist rather than their GP for mouth-related health issues.
ADG believes dentists are best placed to spot oral health problems – including mouth cancer.
David Worskett, chair of the ADG, says: "People often think that dentists focus purely on teeth and gums, but actually, they are specialists in most aspects of oral health and we often find GPs refer patients back to their dentist if there is any treatment required.
"The message is, if you have any concerns about oral health related issues, be it a toothache or a long-term ulcer, you should be visiting your dentist rather than your GP. This will ensure patients are getting the best possible care, and also relieving pressure on the NHS, which we know is already overstretched."
Latest figures show that mouth cancer cases exceeded 7,500 in 2012, and cases are expected to rise further. There has also been notable rises in incidence in younger people and in females.
Says Mr Worskett: "With mouth cancer rates rising… and early detection vital, it is more important than ever that patients get the right care quickly."
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