Uncertainty is rife about the role of pharmacists in the treatment of bad breath, and most of the profession feel their education is lacking in this area, a new study reveals
Australian researchers surveyed and interviewed over 200 community pharmacists, GPs and dental practitioners and found each of the professions felt they had a training deficit and uncertainties about treating and monitoring patients with halitosis.
Of the community pharmacists surveyed, less than half (46%) considered halitosis to be part of their role, despite pharmacy being a common destination for patients seeking oral health treatment and advice. More than half (59%) of the pharmacists said they saw up to 10 patients with halitosis per week.
Among the explanations given for this dichotomy were a majority of pharmacist respondents saying their training in this area was lacking (GPs also reported the same belief about their training in halitosis care). Previous research had also found “the professional training of GPs and CPs in Australia lacked oral health content.”
Also, many respondents mentioned “a key barrier was concern over compromising the rapport with patients by broaching a potentially embarrassing subject.”
The study found there were also barriers between the dental profession and GPs and pharmacists which were restricting inter-professional advice and support in treating this common condition. Both dentists and GPs were unsure of the role of pharmacists in oral health care.
“Collaboration between health professionals would improve patient outcomes,” the authors said, as was “raising community awareness to destigmatise halitosis and reduce the barriers for patients to seek treatment.”
The authors, from the University of Melbourne, also called for enhanced education and training of health professionals at both undergraduate and graduate professional levels.
The research was published in the International Dental Journal