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Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 2001 Jan;83(1):61-4.

An audit of general dental practitioners' referral practice following the distribution of third molar guidelines.

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Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, North Staffordshire Hospital, Stoke-on-Trent, UK.


Oral and maxillofacial surgery waiting lists are amongst the longest of any surgical specialty. The majority of patients on these waiting lists have been referred for removal of their third molars (wisdom teeth). With increasing pressure to reduce the size of both out-patient and surgical waiting lists, it is important to ensure that only those patients with a recognised clinical need are referred and accepted for treatment. In April 1998, local general dental practitioners were issued guidelines for the management of patients with impacted third molars. This paper describes an audit that assessed the impact of this intervention. The results suggest that referral guidelines are an effective means of changing general dental practitioners' referral practice and that, used along with other strategies, could be effective in reducing oral and maxillofacial surgery out-patient and surgical waiting lists.

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