Health

GPs 'under pressure from dental patients'

Dental examination
Image caption Dentists are trained to spot signs of oral as well as dental health problems

Patients are going to their GP with concerns over their oral health when they should be going to their dentist, a poll suggests.

It found 87% of 1,000 GPs surveyed by ComRes, felt under pressure from the number of patients with worries including toothaches or ulcers.

The poll was carried out for the Association of Dental Groups, which represents private dentists.

It said dentists were best placed to spot problems - including mouth cancer.

November is Mouth Cancer Action Month. The risk of developing the cancer is increased by smoking, chewing tobacco or drinking too much alcohol.

Infection with human papillomavirus (HPV) also increases the risk of some types of mouth cancer,

David Worskett, chair of the ADG, said: "With mouth cancer rates rising to over 7,500 new cases every year, and early detection vital, it is more important than ever that patients get the right care quickly.

"People often think that dentists are 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.

"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.

Chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation Dr Nigel Carter said: "As a nation we have a habit of only visiting the GP when there's a problem or when we are in some pain, yet regular dental check-ups are recommended by a dentist.

"Dentists are in the best position to spot mouth cancer. They are trained to spot early warning signs, and they do visual examinations as part of every dental check-up."

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