People who have limited access to dental care may present to non-dental health practitioners for dental treatment and advice. This review synthesised the available evidence regarding the use of non-dental health practitioners for oral health problems and the services provided by non-dental health practitioners to manage such presentations.
PubMed and CINAHL databases were searched using key search terms to identify all relevant quantitative and qualitative English-language studies published between 1990 and March 2014. Snowballing techniques were then applied whereby the reference lists of retrieved articles were searched for other relevant citations. Grey literature was searched via Google using the same search terms to identify unpublished work and government reports.
Of the 43 papers which met the review criteria, 25 papers reported on the use of non-dental health practitioners for oral health problems and 18 on dental care education and training for non-dental health practitioners. Four reports were located from the grey literature on the involvement of non-dental health practitioners in the management of oral health care.
The review of literature showed that both children and adults utilise non-dental health practitioners for oral health problems. Despite this, Emergency Department medical staff, medical practitioners and pharmacists generally lacked training and knowledge in the maragement of oral health. Services from non-dental health practitioners mainly focussed on children. The literature on education and training for non-dental health practitioners was limited.