Medical specialists play an important role in the process of diagnosing and treating rare diseases patients. General practicing dentists more often are active participants of the team that is responsible for the treatment of the patients. This is what led the authors to explore the knowledge and general awareness of general practicing dentists regarding rare diseases. An anonymous survey among primary dental practitioners had been conducted. The results show a serious deficit of knowledge and at the same time a desire for professional development and wish to expand the knowledge on rare diseases among the dental professionals. There is an urgent need for increasing the level of knowledge on rare diseases of primary care dentists by organizing seminars, workshops, distribution of brochures and participation in conferences. This will improve the quality of medical service provided by dentists to patients with rare diseases.
Keywords: Rare Diseases; Primary Dental Care; Knowledge
The dentists were asked questions concerning the definition of rare disease and the number of patients affected by rare diseases. Only 3.2%, respectively, 5.4% are the relative shares of correct answers (Chart 1), (Chart 2).
Dental practitioners were asked to indicate the oral symptoms of three rare diseases. Less than 19.0% of respondents had given correct answers for the appointed diseases.
In regard to the voluntary participation in the survey the results show that women are more interested in the topic of rare diseases. This could be explained with the fact that women are more empathic than men.
The relatively high part of respondents with work experience over 15 years is connected with good possibility for the dentists to have already certain awareness on rare diseases as the bigger the experience is, the better the possibility is of having the chance to follow a patient with a rare disease. Of course, it is quite possible that a dentist could not have a rare disease patient through his whole professional life due to the law prevalence of these diseases.
The results of the study show that the infrequent prevalence of rare diseases is connected with a serious deficit of knowledge that often induces uncertainty, ambiguity and unpredictability in routine primary care. However, patients with rare diseases frequently have a strong need for complex and multidisciplinary treatment. Expertise and knowledge are required, but they are often located in dispersed centers of expertise, and are thus disconnected from the local healthcare environment of patients. The luck of standardized healthcare guidelines due to the great variance of symptoms and treatment processes within each disease pattern is also a reason for the insufficient knowledge level of the general practicing dentists.
In contrast with the above mentioned is the fact that the study results reveal strong positive attitude among the general practicing dentists towards expanding knowledge regarding the field of rare diseases. The honest self-estimation of the knowledge level and the desire for professional development could be a solid basis for improvement of the awareness and knowledge of general practicing dentists regarding rare diseases. Thus, the adequate and on time diagnosing and treatment of patients will be insured. As a logical consequence the patient and his family will be helped to cope with the difficulties in managing the course of the disease, the gradual recovery and maintenance of optimal functional abilities . Through organizing seminars, workshops, distribution of brochures and participation in conferences on rare diseases it is desirable to answer to the need for increasing the level of knowledge on rare diseases of Bulgarian dentists.
General practicing dentists more often are active participants of the team that is responsible for the treatment of the patient. In cases in which the oral symptoms are well manifested the general practicing dentist help the right diagnose and treatment. The general practicing dental professionals should be able to establish an individual contact with each patient with a rare disease and to conduct a seasonable and correct treatment. They are tasked with creating a new type of individual, patient-centered solutions to improve rare diseases patients' long-term healthcare situation. There is an urgent need for increasing the level of knowledge on rare diseases of primary care dentists. Accurate and on time answer to this need will improve the quality of medical service provided by dentists to patients with rare diseases.
Chart 1: What is the definition of a rare disease?
Chart 2: How many people are affected by a rare disease?
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