Table 2

Reasons described as to why patients with dental problems may consult a GP

ReasonExample quotation
 Shortage of dental services“…there's a huge problem with recruitment for dentistry. I would say about five years ago now, things were desperate then, nobody could get registered.” GP2
 Difficulties accessing dental services“The patients often say they can't get in to see the dentist for, you know, a week, a fortnight, a month or whatever… Or they say that their dentist is twenty miles away or ten miles away and they can't, they haven't got access to him because they haven't got transport that day. Whereas the patients with us they tend to be registered in our locality, so even if they haven't got transport they can still walk to the surgery.” GP6
 Comparative ease of accessing general medical care“I think a lot of the time these patients don't know how to access the help that they need and we're very identifiable and very easily accessible.” GP3
Practitioner preference
 Anxiety“We do have some patients who say they're too scared to go to the dentist.” GP12
 Dissatisfaction with previous dental treatment“A lady who'd seen her general dental practitioner the previous day came to me for a second opinion.” GP5
Financial concerns
 Cost of prescriptions“People are careful how they spend their money and if they can get something free from the GP, or see a dentist and pay for a prescription…” GP16
Perceived need for antibiotics
 Influenced by prior experience“Most of the time they have like a preconceived perception of what's going on. So, most of the time they'll say, ‘I think I've got an abscess doc, can you give me some antibiotics, it worked last time?’“ GP9
Referred or poorly differentiated pain
 Sinusitis“We see patients that might have, or they think they have, sinusitis but it's actually a dental abscess” GP15
 Earache“We see quite a lot of patients with unexplained earache that they would present to us, but it's actually toothache.” GP15
  • GP, general practitioner.