Knowledge and Practices of Family and Emergency Physicians in Managing Nontraumatic Dental Conditions: A Case-based Survey

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Introduction:Physicians are often patients' first point of contact for management of nontraumatic dental conditions (NTDCs). This study's aim was to evaluate the knowledge and practices of Ontario physicians in managing NTDCs, with a specific focus on antibiotic usage.Methods:A Web-based survey featured 4 NTDC clinical scenarios: irreversible pulpitis, localized acute apical abscess with or without systemic involvement, and chronic apical abscess. The survey link was distributed to active Ontario family and emergency physicians. The sample group was asked questions about their management of and experience with NTDCs, and demographic and practice characteristics were collected. Descriptive and multivariate logistic regression analyses were undertaken (P ≤ .05).Results:Sampled Ontario physicians tend to manage NTDCs in a manner that is not consistent with evidence-based care. For irreversible pulpitis and for localized acute apical abscess with or without systemic involvement, most physicians would prescribe an antibiotic (57.4%, 84.8%, and 96.3%, respectively), and 23.5% would prescribe an antibiotic for chronic apical abscess. Approximately half the sample (52.9%) felt discomfort in managing NTDCs, and 85.3% felt they were inadequately trained to manage NTDCs.Conclusion:Areas that present opportunities for improvement in the physician management of NTDCs were identified, including the incorporation of further NTDC training in medical curricula and continuing medical education courses, and development and dissemination of guidelines for physicians in managing NTDCs.

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