A survey of general dental practitioners on the Mersey postgraduate register regarding the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines for the removal of wisdom teeth

Simon N Rogers, Anusha Reginald, Derek Lowe, Brian Grieveson
Primary Dental Care: Journal of the Faculty of General Dental Practitioners (UK) 2005, 12 (3): 99-104

AIM: To ascertain the awareness of and response to the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines among general dental practitioners (GDPs) in the Mersey region.

METHODS: A pre-piloted postal questionnaire was sent to all GDPs (522) on the Mersey postgraduate register. Day case statistics for third molar surgery at the local hospital were reviewed.

RESULTS: Three hundred and eighty-seven (74%) of the GDPs responded and virtually all reported seeing patients with problems arising from third molars in the previous month. Thirteen per cent claimed that they were either unaware or unsure of the NICE guidelines and 34% reported that they did not have a copy. Seventy-eight per cent reported that they either definitely or probably agreed with the NICE guidelines, 56% that the guidelines had definitely or probably changed their management of third molar problems, 64% that they considered that the guidelines had definitely or probably reduced numbers of extractions/surgical removals, and 56% that they definitely or probably referred fewer patients with third molar problems. However, 89% said they had either frequently or occasionally encountered problems when they left a wisdom tooth on review (untreated). Eighty-four respondents provided free text comments on the NICE guidelines; half were favourable and half were critical. The local hospital's day case statistics indicated that there had been a fall in the annual number of patients undergoing third molar surgery from 494 in 1998 to 287 in 2002.

CONCLUSIONS: It was concluded that the majority of respondents were aware of the guidelines and were using them. However, it was unclear whether or not the guidelines had, in themselves, led to a reduction in the number of referrals of patients with third molar problems, or that the reduction had already started, before the guidelines were published, and might have continued even if the guidelines had not been published.


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