Patient presentation at medical practices with dental problems: an analysis of the 1996 General Practice Morbidity Database for Wales

Br Dent J. 1999 Mar 27;186(6):297-300. doi: 10.1038/sj.bdj.4800091.


Objective: To describe the characteristics of attendances and patients who present to family medical practitioners with oral or dental problems.

Design: Secondary analysis of standard consultation data.

Setting: 30 family medical practices in the General Practice Morbidity Database for Wales.

Subjects: All patients who presented at the practices with an oral or dental complaint during 1996.

Results: Of the 1,650,882 patient attendances at the 30 medical practices in the study year, 4,891 (0.3%) were for oral/dental problems. The frequency of these attendances varied considerably between practices (ranging from 0.02 to 0.67% of all attendances); 44.2% of the attendances included tooth-related problems, and 42.3% were for diseases of soft tissue, salivary glands or the tongue. On average patients with dental problems attended their doctor twice as frequently as other patients. The majority (75%) of oral/dental attendances were related solely to these problems. Patients with tooth-related dental problems were three times more likely to seek treatment at weekends than patients attending for other reasons.

Conclusions: The rate of attendance for oral/dental problems varies substantially between practices, but is generally low. The higher rate of attendance for tooth-related problems at weekends suggests that some of the attendances for oral problems might be related to a perceived or actual lack of dental services at these times.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • General Practice, Dental* / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morbidity
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Stomatognathic Diseases / diagnosis
  • Stomatognathic Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Wales / epidemiology