How do general dentists and orthodontists determine where to refer patients requiring oral and maxillofacial surgical procedures?

Thomas Schlieve, Joseph Funderburk, William Flick, Michael Miloro, Antonia Kolokythas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Purpose This study investigated the influence of specific criteria on referral selection among general dentists and orthodontists in deciding referrals to oral and maxillofacial surgeons. Materials and Methods A cross-sectional study was designed to examine the importance of criteria used by 2 groups of practitioners, general dentists and orthodontists, for deciding on referrals to oral and maxillofacial surgeons. Data were collected by 2 multiple-choice surveys. The surveys were e-mailed to general dentists and orthodontists practicing in the state of Illinois and to graduates from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Dentistry and the UIC Department of Orthodontics. Participants were asked to rate referral criteria from most important to least important. Analysis of variance was used to examine the data for any differences in the importance of the criteria for each question and linear regression analysis was used to determine whether any 1 criterion was statistically meaningful within each group of practitioners. Results In total, 235 general dental practitioners and 357 orthodontists completed the survey, with a 100% completion rate. The most important criterion for referral to oral and maxillofacial surgeons in the general dentist group was the personal and professional relationship of the referring doctor to the specialist. In the orthodontist group, no single criterion was statistically meaningful. Conclusion General dentists tend to develop long-term relationships with their patients, and when deciding the appropriate referrals it appears that personal and professional relationships that promote trust and open communication are key elements. General dentists favor these relationships when making referral decisions across a wide spectrum of procedures. Orthodontists do not place a substantial value on a specific criterion for referral and therefore may not develop the same relationships between patient and doctor and between doctors as general dentists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)509-513
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oral Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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