Dentists Underdiagnose When Faced With Time Pressure, Research Shows

Dentists can miss important details on x-rays when put under time pressure, according to new research led by the University of Plymouth.

The study, published in the Journal of Dentistry, showed that primary care dentists missed 67% of bone loss and 40% of tooth decay on a sample of dental x-rays, when given limited time to assess them. However, the 40 study participants diagnosed correctly, on average, all the pathologies related to bone loss and tooth decay correctly, when not faced with time pressure.

Dental x-rays are taken routinely by dentists to detect dental decay and loss of bone support around teeth (which is a sign of severe gum disease).

The study participants, all from dental practices in and around the south west of England, rated their stress levels as much higher in the time pressured situation than in without time pressure.

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