Self medication for dental problems increases overdose risks

self medicationSelf medication from patients unable to access care could lead to an increased risk of overdose, the BDA warns.

A recent study, published in the British Dental Journal, found that self medication for dental pain with paracetamol was a significant cause of accidental overdose and liver failure at Queen’s Medical Centre.

Over two years there were 436 accidental paracetamol overdose cases, 164 of which were as a result of dental pain.

‘Paracetamol is not a solution for dental pain, and is simply a temporary measure until a dentist can provide treatment,’ Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, the BDA’s chair of General Dental Practice, said.

‘Sadly lives are now at risk as failure to provide sufficient care for dental emergencies is leaving patients to self-medicate.

‘Dental patients need to be treated in the right place, at the right time and by the right team.

‘Again failure to invest in both routine and emergency dental care is jeopardising appropriate diagnosis and treatment, and heaping needless pressure across the NHS.

‘Commissioning adequate urgent care services is the best way to ensure callers to NHS 111 won’t be left searching for a needle in a haystack for access or reaching for the painkillers.’

Dental A&E trips

Dental patients visiting A&E for free dental treatment are estimated to be costing the NHS £18 million every year.

Around 1% of the total number of patients passing through A&E are visiting for dental problems.

The BDA has estimated that 135,000 dental patients are visiting A&E costing almost £18 million, 95,000 of which have cases related to toothache costing £12.5 million.

‘Ministers keep underestimating how much their indifference to dentistry has knock-on effects across the health service,’ Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen said.

‘GPs and A&E medics are having to pick up the pieces, while Government’s only strategy is to ask our patients to pay more in to plug the funding gap.

‘We are seeing patients who need our care pushed towards medical colleagues who aren’t equipped to treat them.

‘As long as Government keeps slashing budgets, and ramping up charges we will keep seeing more of the same.’

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