What exactly is the difference between a doctor and a dentist? While dentists have knowledge and education about the whole body, they are only licensed to treat ailments of the face and oral cavity. General physicians, on the other hand, are licensed and educated to treat illness relating to the general health of their patients.

The distinction may seem pretty clear, but a 10 year retrospective study indicates that many people in the United Kingdom are going to the doctor for dental issues, and it is causing problems in the long run.

senior man talking to a doctor

The Antibiotic Problem

The study from Cardiff University and Cardiff and Vale University Health Board which was published in the British Journal of General Practice looked at dental consultations in UK general practice and the number of antibiotic prescriptions resulting from these visits. They found that out of 288,169 dental consultations included in the report, antibiotics were prescribed 57.1% of the time.

This is troubling for a couple of reasons. First, while antibiotics might reduce short-term symptoms from an infected tooth, tooth decay cannot be treated by simply taking antibiotics, and if left untreated can result in fillings, extraction, or root canals when an earlier visit to the dentist could have caught cavities before they became a larger issue.

The second issue comes from the overuse of antibiotics. If antibiotics are overprescribed then it is likely that bacteria will eventually become resistant to the antibiotics. This can lead to a pandemic of epic proportions, and so we must be vigilant that we are not using antibiotics when other methods of treatment are more effective.

The Emergency Room Is the Worst Place for Dentistry

The place where Americans most often end up seeing a doctor for a dental issue is when they go to the emergency room for a dental problem. Sometimes, this may be the only option, but it can also lead to a number of significant problems.

Not only is dentistry at the emergency room more expensive, it’s also not as good. The focus is only on alleviating current symptoms, not promoting the long-term health of your teeth and your body. Teeth might be extracted that might have been saved, and when restorations are performed, they can be uncomfortable and unattractive. Extractions aren’t performed with a dental implant in mind, and may make it harder to replace a lost tooth.

The best way to get quality dental care is to make regular dental visits so you don’t have a dental emergency. If you are looking for a quality Rockland County dentist to take care of your teeth, please call (845) 627-7645 for an appointment at B & D Dental Excellence in West Nyack.