Training in oral disease, diagnosis and treatment for medical students and doctors in the United Kingdom

Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2005 Feb;43(1):61-4. doi: 10.1016/j.bjoms.2004.08.023.


To find out if the training of medical undergraduates and qualified doctors was adequate to diagnose, investigate, manage, and refer common oral disorders appropriately, we sent anonymous questionnaires to undergraduate and postgraduate medical and dental deans, accident and emergency (A&E) doctors, and dentists. We wanted to know if they were capable of diagnosing and treating 10 common oral disorders, and if their training was adequate to enable them to do so. Ten clinical photographs with short clinical histories were sent to 48 A&E physicians together with a structured questionnaire. Twenty-one of the 29 medical schools in the UK responded to a questionnaire about the teaching given in the current curriculum about oral anatomy and pathology, and the prevention of oral disease. A questionnaire sent to the deans of the 16 British dental schools asked how many academic staff were involved in undergraduate teaching, and how many in postgraduate courses. A third questionnaire was sent to the 24 postgraduate medical deans to find out how many postgraduate courses there were for qualified medical staff. Of the 48 medical staff, 134 (28%) diagnosed cases correctly, compared with 194 (88.7%) of the 22 dentists, indicating serious deficiencies in diagnostic awareness. Only 11 of the 21 medical schools who responded currently incorporate teaching of oral pathology in their curricula. We conclude that doctors and medical students are inadequately educated about oral diseases with obvious consequences.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Diagnosis, Oral / education*
  • Education, Dental
  • Education, Medical
  • Emergency Medicine / education
  • Humans
  • Mouth Diseases / diagnosis
  • Oral Medicine / education*
  • Pathology, Oral / education*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom