Dentists' preferences for diagnosis, management and referral of chronic oro-facial pain: Results from a national survey

Vishal R. Aggarwal, Amy Joughin, Joanna Zakrzewska, Priscilla Appelbe, Martin Tickle

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Aim: To explore the diagnosis, treatment and referral patterns of chronic oro-facial pain patients by generalist primary care dentists (GDPs) in the UK. Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted using a non-stratified random sample of 500 GDPs who were selected from the General Dental Council register. A self-complete postal questionnaire with four hypothetical clinical case scenarios describing sub-types of chronic oro-facial pain (COFP) was used to investigate diagnosis, treatment and referral options of GDPs. Results: Two hundred and twenty (44%) GDPs responded. The majority correctly diagnosed temporomandibular disorder (TMD; 88%) and burning mouth syndrome (BMS; 92%). There was more variation in the diagnosis of the other cases related to persistent oro-facial pain. For TMD there was a clear preference for treatment with occlusal splint therapy, and referral to a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) specialist. The BMS scenario showed drug therapy and referral to an oral medicine specialist to be most popular. The chronic oro-facial pain cases had greater variation in management and choice of psychotherapy was related to duration of pain symptoms. Conclusions: The greater variation in responses to scenarios based on patients with chronic oro-facial pain may reflect the difficulty clinicians face in diagnosing and treating this condition. Management appears to follow a biomedical model and most clinicians chose to refer patients for treatment. There are few specialist services to cater for such referrals, indicating a need to train primary care practitioners in management of chronic COFP, along with the establishment of evidence-based guidelines. © The Author(s) 2011.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)662-669
    Number of pages7
    JournalHealth Education Journal
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012


    • chronic
    • dental practitioners
    • diagnosis
    • management
    • oro-facial pain


    Dive into the research topics of 'Dentists' preferences for diagnosis, management and referral of chronic oro-facial pain: Results from a national survey'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this