Nearly 4,000 attended A&E with dental problems last year

The figures prompted warnings from dentistry experts that 'overstretched' staff are not trained or equipped to deal the problems.

Nearly 4,000 attended A&E with dental problems last year Getty Images

Nearly 4,000 people showed up at A&E with dental problems last year, according to new research.

Common complaints from patients who showed up at A&E departments and minor injury services in Scotland included toothache, cavities and gum disease.

The figures prompted warnings from dentistry experts that ‘overstretched’ staff are not trained or equipped to deal the problems.

The British Dental Association said in almost all cases, patients were unlikely to get anything more than pain relief and would be referred to a dentist, meaning route offered people little help while lumbering the NHS with extra costs.

In Scotland more than 3,600 people sought help at A&E, according to the Scotsman.

More than 77,000 people turned up at emergency departments across the UK as a whole in 2019/20 with dental problems, costing the NHS an estimated £13m.

Dave Cottam, Chair of the British Dental Association’s General Dental Practice Committee, said the issue is worse in the rest of the UK than in Scotland, where numbers attending A&E for dental checkups have declined from previous levels.

Mr Cottam said: “Free dental check-ups in Scotland may have taken the edge off problems being felt across the UK.

“Still far too many desperate patients are finding reasons to delay or avoid needed treatment, or to simply head elsewhere.

“Our overstretched colleagues in A&E and general practice are neither trained nor equipped to deal with dental problems.

“Sadly whenever our patients face barriers the impact is felt across our NHS.”

The Scottish Government said the number of people registered with a dentist was at record levels in Scotland and there was no charge for dental check-ups.

A spokesman said: “As the figures show, unlike the rest of the UK, the number of dental patients seeking treatment at A&Es in Scotland has declined.

“Scotland has a national network of out of hours dental centres which can be accessed through NHS24 and whilst someone may attend A&E with a dental problem they are likely to be redirected to the local out of hours dental centre which is more appropriate.”

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