Participants’ preferred choice of practitioner for orofacial symptoms
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BACKGROUND: Patients seeking treatment from general medical practitioners (GP) may be unaware or ill-informed that dentists are the more appropriate professionals to manage their orofacial symptoms, being able to diagnose and treat, or, if deemed necessary, appropriately refer. AIMS: To: (1) determine from a group of patients (n = 37) their initial preference of health care provider, when seeking treatment for orofacial symptoms (2) establish their awareness of the appropriate proficiency of the dentist, and, (3) determine the referral pathway before patients attended the Tygerberg Oral Medicine Clinic. METHODS: A cross sectional study design; quantitative data was collected by a modified previously published Bell-questionnaire with closed-ended questions. RESULTS: 53.8% of patients preferred a dentist to attend to a mouth or jaw problem and 46.1%, a GP. When clinical scenarios were posed, all directly related to the scope of practice of the dental practitioner, it was of concern that 47.3% chose the GP and 52.67% chose the dentist. CONCLUSION: Patients initially chose the GP for many orofacial diseases, although they indicated at the Oral Medicine clinic that the dentist had the most relevant knowledge. Participants did not associate some of the orofacial symptoms with the training of dentists.