24 May

New study claims GPs are not trained to detect signs of dental neglect

shutterstock_187839812A new study suggests that GPs are not trained to detect the signs of dental neglect.
Research published in the British Dental Journal revealed that 96% of GPs surveyed had not received dental training, and some even admitted that they didn’t consider oral health a priority. Just five of the GPs involved in the study, which was carried out on the Isle of Wight, suggested that there may be a link between child neglect and a lack of dental care and failure to register a child with a dentist; however, no GPs worked at clinics where details of dental registration were obtained for patient records.
Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, the chair of General Dental Practice at the British Dental Association, said that decay can be a “tell-tale sign” of child abuse or neglect and suggested that many children could be “falling through the cracks” as a result of health professionals not paying due care and attention to dental health. Stating that GPs are under a lot of pressure and have many roles to fulfil, Mr Overgaard Nielsen suggested that the government must do more to tackle the crisis of dental decay among children. Decay is the leading cause of hospital admissions among children in the UK and there are several barriers to good oral health, including poor access to NHS services, poverty and a lack of education and knowledge.
The BDA suggests that GPs lack confidence, training and time to be able to spot signs of neglect and abuse, which are linked to dental issues, and dentists claim that often, decay is too advanced to treat by the time they see patients. The latest figures show that more than 41% of children didn’t see a dentist in the year leading up to June 2017, despite recommendations from dentists to attend a check-up every 6 months.