GPs Not Provided Sufficient Time or Training to Spot Dental Neglect

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A study published in the British Dental Journal reports that the vast majority of GPs do not have the time or have not received the training required to see the telltale signs of tooth neglect.

The survey, which asked GPs on the Isle of Wight about what they know about dental health and the perceptions of oral health, reported that 96% of the GPs have never received any formal training on dental health, with only one in five discussing a link between a lack of childhood dental registration and neglect, and none of the GPs who took part has worked at a clinic where there were recordings of children’s dental registration status.

The chair of the General Dental Practice at the British Dental Association, Henrik Overgaard-Nielson, said that due to the siloed nature of the health service, many children are falling through the cracks, meaning that tooth decay, a tell-tale sign of abuse or neglect can get missed.

Overgaard-Nielson noted that dentists are not seeing children at most risk early enough in order to avoid child hospital admission. He also called for joined-up policies to tackle the barriers to oral health, which includes neglect, poverty and ignorance.

Overgaard-Nielson noted however that the issue lies at the feet of the Government’s inability to deal with the problem, and that GPs cannot be asked to “multitask” to make up for a lack of sound policy to raise awareness among NHS staff for dental health.

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