Nondental orofacial pain in dental practices – diagnosis, therapy and self-assessment of German dentists and dental students

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Abstract

Background

Patients with non-dental orofacial pain syndromes will often primarily consult general dentists and other dental specialists. Early and correct diagnosis and therapy is crucial to prevent chronification.

Methods

We assessed the experience of dentists (general dentists and dental specialists; n = 533) and knowledge level of dental students (n = 130) on the diagnosis and treatment of non-dental orofacial pain. We used an anonymized survey containing 14 items with the four main themes (1) prescription patterns, (2) treatment strategies in non-dental orofacial pain, (3) interdisciplinary cooperation, and (4) self-assessment of knowledge as well as post-graduate education.

Results

Ninety-two percent of dental students stated that they feel either ‘not at all’ (56%) or only ‘somewhat’ (36%) prepared for the diagnosis or treatment of non-dental orofacial pain. Only 23% of the dentists reported ‘good’ or ‘very good’ confidence for the diagnosis of non-dental orofacial pain. NSAID were the analgesics of choice when the pain is unspecific (25%) or even neuralgic (10%). Dentists referred patients with non-dental orofacial pain mostly to ENT-physicians (59%), oral and maxillofacial surgeons (54%) or TMD specialists (51%).

Conclusion

Interdisciplinary pain treatment seems to be well acknowledged, however, with a focus on referral within the community of dental specialists. Dental curricula and post-graduate trainings need to implement the diagnosis and treatment options of non-dental orofacial pain.

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