Objectives: A study of hospital admissions for diseases of pulp and periapical tissues in NHS Grampian and the effects of socioeconomic, geographic location and primary dental care availability on hospital admissions.
Design: Retrospective analysis of hospitalisation data from NHS Grampian Health Intelligence database for the five-year period (1 January 2011 to 31 December 2015), if their primary diagnosis was disease of the pulp or periapical tissues. The influence of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) scores on hospital admissions for pulp or periapical diseases were assessed and compared. Data from general dental practitioners (GDPs) providing primary care were obtained from the National Services Scotland practitioner services board.
Results: There were 963 admissions to NHS Grampian hospitals over the five-year period. The most frequent hospitalisation admission code was K047 'periapical abscess without sinus', accounting for 59.3% of all admissions. Hospital admissions decreased from 185 in 2011 to 122 in 2015, and coincided with a 50% rise in the number of GDPs providing primary care dentistry within the region (171 in 2011 to 256 in 2015). SIMD 5 (least deprived) had the greatest number of admissions (68) in 2011 compared with the most deprived (11). In 2015, SIMD 4 had the most admissions (41) compared to SIMD 1 (12).
Conclusion: A reduction in hospital admissions for pulp/periapical abscesses appears to coincide with an increase in GDPs providing primary care dental services. Barriers to providing dental treatment in primary care should be minimised to reduce the burden of care on NHS hospitals for preventable dental diseases such as periapical abscesses.