The attitudes and awareness of emergency department (ED) physicians towards the management of common dentofacial emergencies

Dent Traumatol. 2012 Apr;28(2):121-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-9657.2011.01050.x. Epub 2011 Nov 23.


Objective: Dentofacial emergencies are a common presentation to the emergency department (ED) but there is little recent data on physicians' knowledge, confidence and attitudes in handling these cases.

Method: A questionnaire was administered to 103 ED physicians. The sample was primarily drawn from London hospitals as well a smaller contribution from around the UK and included physicians with a range of experience and at different grades.

Results: The majority of the 102 participants (76.5%) did not receive any formal training in managing dentofacial emergencies. The percentage of participants who were happy to manage common dentofacial emergencies is as follows: dental trauma (20.4%); major facial trauma (39.8%); interpreting facial X-rays (68.0%); and facial suturing (85.4%). When questioned 12.1% of the participants felt that ED physicians should be responsible for managing dental emergencies compared to 22.4% who felt that ED physicians should manage maxillofacial emergencies. Only 3.9% of the participants would opt to be treated by an ED doctor in the event of them presenting to the ED with a dental injury. The remaining 72.5% would prefer to be seen by a maxillofacial surgeon, 23.5% by a dentist and none of the participants opted to be seen by the emergency nurse practitioner.

Conclusion: ED physicians do not feel confident in managing some dentofacial emergencies. This may be attributed to a lack of training in this area as well as exposure to these types of emergencies. There is a need for greater awareness, validated guidelines and training resources for ED physicians to treat dentofacial emergencies as well more research in this field of emergency medicine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Clinical Competence
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Emergency Treatment / psychology*
  • Facial Injuries / diagnostic imaging
  • Facial Injuries / therapy*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • London
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Oral Hemorrhage / therapy
  • Periodontal Abscess / therapy
  • Radiography, Dental
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Suture Techniques
  • Tooth Injuries / diagnostic imaging
  • Tooth Injuries / therapy*
  • Toothache / therapy