By Dr Geoff Broomhall
Last year’s World Oral Health Day revealed that Australia had failed its very first Oral Health Check. Poor oral hygiene is associated with significant comorbidities, and a 20 month – 3 year wait to see a public dentist exposes patients to systemic health risk.
The first set of Oral Health Pathways went live in December 2018 with expert clinical contribution from Dental Health Services Victoria, in particular specialist staff at the Royal Dental Hospital, Melbourne They were released with the following objectives:
- To assist doctors in treating simple oral health conditions in primary care before referring to a dentist.
- To increase awareness of public services in our catchment that treat both acute and non-acute dental conditions.
- To educate general practitioners on the priority groups who should not face delays obtaining care in public dental services.
- To advise our stakeholders of the best and most up-to-date guidelines for Oral Health.
It is our hope that these pages will help general practitioners work with patients and give them the resources to assist in the care of their patients oral health, and recognise the relative urgencies for care. The initial tranche of Oral Health Pathways embrace the following topics:
- Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ/TMD)
- Antithrombotic drugs and dentistry
- Acute or Chronic Dental Pain – includes resources on toothache, pulpitis, infected root canal systems, dental abscesses and dry sockets.
- Antiresorptive agents and dental care – including important new guidelines from Dental Health Services Victoria
- Trauma to teeth or jaw – including information on fractures, trismus, facial swelling or deformity and avulsed teeth.
They also assist with referral to tertiary services:
It is our hope that this pathway suite will help to inform primary care practitioners of the various options for referral in this catchment and allow patients to have the best treatment possible.
GP’s spend a lot of time looking into mouths, and further pathways in development will further assist in recognising and managing oral disease appropriately.
World Oral Health Day is on Wednesday, March 20.
Dr Geoff Broomhall is a GP clinical editor for HealthPathways Melbourne.