Orthodontic referral behaviour of West Sussex dentists

O A Jackson, S J Cunningham, D R Moles, J R Clark
British Dental Journal 2009 November 14, 207 (9): E18; discussion 430-1

OBJECTIVES: 1) To examine the orthodontic referral behaviour of dentists and 2) to examine dentists' familiarity with the Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need (IOTN).

DESIGN: Postal questionnaire survey.

SETTING: West Sussex Primary Care Trust (PCT) from September to December 2006.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Questionnaires were sent to all dentists listed on the West Sussex PCT database, except those assumed not to make orthodontic referrals (n = 325).

RESULTS: Two hundred and twenty-nine questionnaires were returned, representing a 70% response rate. Fifty-two percent of dentists in West Sussex correctly identified which type of orthodontic provider to refer three different malocclusions using picture tests. Twenty percent of dentists made correct decisions on the timing of referral for three different malocclusions using picture tests. IOTN is not routinely used by 76% of West Sussex dentists when making an orthodontic referral.

CONCLUSIONS: This study provides evidence that there is a need for postgraduate training or the development of referral guidelines to assist West Sussex dentists in making referrals for orthodontic treatment to the most appropriate provider at the most appropriate time. If dentists are to act as gatekeepers of orthodontic provision on the NHS there is a need to provide more support and education for them about the use of IOTN.

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