Dental health in primary care; experience, education and attitudes of primary care physicians in Newfoundland and Labrador


  • Myfanwy Price Memorial University
  • Jessa Vokey
  • Sarah Williams
  • Christopher Qiu
  • Brendan Barrett


Introduction: Primary care physicians in Canada are often tasked with assessing dental issues despite reporting limited training in this area. Knowledge and attitudes around dental health in primary care in Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) have not previously been documented. Thus, we developed a survey for family physicians in NL with the goal of understanding the dental care education received by family physicians, comfort levels with providing dental care, and to identify potential gaps in training.

Methods: Three semi-structured interviews with family physicians were used to guide the development of the survey, which was disseminated to all family physicians working in NL. Questions included demographic information, education in dental care, frequency, and confidence in providing dental care, and views on dental care within the scope of family medicine. The survey was circulated online through the provincial medical association and family practice networks.

Results: A total of 63 family physicians responded to the survey. Of the respondents, 78% reported receiving less than 2 hours of dental care training throughout medical school, and 84% received less than 2 hours throughout residency. Notably, none of the physicians felt that their dental knowledge was above average when compared to their colleagues. Almost all family physicians felt that basic oral health should be within the scope of practice for family physicians.

Conclusion: Our survey found that family physicians frequently see patients regarding a variety of dental complaints, yet they reported very little formal education in this area of practice throughout all stages of their training. The results of this study can be used to inform undergraduate and postgraduate medical education curriculum in Newfoundland and Labrador.




How to Cite

Price, M., Vokey, J., Williams, S., Qiu, C., & Barrett, B. (2023). Dental health in primary care; experience, education and attitudes of primary care physicians in Newfoundland and Labrador. Lithos - The Memorial University Medical Journal, 1(2), 6–11. Retrieved from



Original Research