A chronic shortage of dentists in Moray is causing an increase in workload for GP practices.
And a report into the situation says it is adversely impacting children and new residents to the area.
No NHS practices in the area are accepting adult patients, and an increasing number are unable to access routine and preventative NHS care.
A package of measures to attract dentists to Moray was approved two years ago.
Dental patients ‘frequently’ calling their GP
While there has been some interest, no applications have been received.
The issue was discussed at the Moray Integration Joint Board clinical care and governance committee on Thursday.
Dr Malcolm Simmons told the meeting he had been the brunt of a patient’s frustration, who was suffering from dental pain.
He said: “We frequently see people contacting their GP practice with their dental problems.
“It’s a significant proportion of work.
“I’m not a dentist and I’m not the best-placed to say what decisions should be made.
“My concern is people in Moray, who are on very low incomes with other problems, are left with very few options.”
Dr Simmons added the work included providing prescriptions for painkillers and issuing sick notes for those unable to work from dental pain.
Laura Stevenson, dental clinical lead, agreed to discuss the issues facing GPs outwith the meeting.
There were also concerns that people are putting off seeking treatment privately because of the cost-of-living crisis.
Committee chairman Derek Murray said: “Dentists are trained using public funds, so couldn’t there be some way after graduation that they must provide a service for the public?”
Chief officer for Health and Social Care Moray Simon Bokor-Ingram told the meeting that issue was “mooted frequently”.
But any decision would have to be taken at a national government level.
Urgent and emergency care is still carried out by the Moray Public Dental Service.
However plans to widen the service have been hampered by recruitment issues.
Leaving the European Union, the Covid pandemic and delays to recruiting overseas dentists have impacted on shortages.
Scottish Government is currently revising the dental remuneration and fees package, which will be implemented from November 1.
Ms Stevenson said: “Recruitment is an issue, and we’re doing our best to make the NHS more attractive.”
There will be a public information campaign so patients know who to contact with urgent problems.
Dentist shortage impacting children
Also NHS Grampian’s website is reviewed regularly and updated with information on practices accepting new NHS clients.
And oral health improvement programmes, including those for nursery and primary school pupils, have been extended and are identifying children with problems.