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Patients with dental diagnoses, not necessarily traumatic, often present to accident and emergency departments and general medical practitioners. Few doctors have received much, if any, education in the management of these patients. A 6 month prospective study revealed 107 patients (0.3% of new attenders) attending the accident and emergency department of Glasgow Royal Infirmary. Only 19 of these had suffered trauma. Medical staff in the department were only rarely able to make any diagnosis, and management of these patients took place on an empirical, symptomatic basis. Management could be improved by better education of medical students and doctors. Use of an algorithm may be appropriate.