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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 January 2008, 13:40 GMT
Doctors 'taking on dental care'
Gum disease
GPs are not trained in dental care
One in six people has been unable to see a dentist for almost two years, a poll for Citizens' Advice has found.

But Darren Simpson, a GP in Bradford, says the shortage of dentists is also having an impact on doctors' workload.

Dr Simpson said medics at his practice have been seeing several patients every week with dental problems which they cannot treat.

What tends to happen is that they develop terrible problems and need emergency dental care
Dr Darren Simpson, GP

"This is a situation we've been seeing here for a couple of years, and it's a problem across Bradford and, I believe, across Yorkshire.

"Patients are coming in to see us in real pain. I feel sorry for then because there's very little we can do.

"We can have a look in their mouths, but we have no formal dental training as medics, so we assume it's an abscess. It's frustrating.

"All we can do is give them antibiotics and painkillers, but we know they will be back a few weeks later."

Investment

Dr Simpson, who is based at the Ridge Medical Practice which has 17 doctors and around 18,000 patients, said the people he saw could not afford to go private.

He added: "We are seeing patients we shouldn't have to see, and it's extending the waiting times for those patients who need medical care.

"And because there is no preventative dentistry available, what tends to happen is that they develop terrible problems and need emergency dental care, putting pressure on that service.

Dr Simpson said colleagues in A&E had also reported seeing patients who actually needed dental care, with some even calling ambulances because they were in such pain.

But he said things were changing. Bradford and Airedale Teaching Primary Care Trust is investing 2m in dental services this year, which Dr Simpson said would tackle the problem.



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