Department of Health

Key messages

  • The dental priority tool determines whether a person needs dental care and then their priority level, across five priority categories.
  • The tool uses the Emergency Care Dental Management System to triage and assess patients seeking urgent care.
  • For people seeking routine dental care, agencies should first assess them using the genetic priority tool.

The community health priority tools are part of the department’s program to improve access to community health services.

The dental priority tool determines whether people need dental services and then assigns a level of priority for service.

Intake workers without a background in dentistry

Intake workers who do not have a background in dentistry should consult with a dental practitioner if they cannot work out a person’s level of priority.

For information about public dental healthcare, please visit Dental Health in the Primary and Community Health area of the website.

Services covered by the tool

The dental priority tool covers all public dental healthcare services, including dentures.

When CHSs should use this tool

CHSs should use the dental priority tool when someone presents with a request for routine or urgent dental care, and after they have applied the generic priority tool.

Priority categories for this tool

Agencies use the Emergency Care Dental Management System (ECDMS) to triage, assess and manage people seeking urgent dental care. The dental priority tool has five categories for the maximum timeframe for assessing whether someone needs emergency care.

  • Category 1 - emergency care with 24 hours
  • Category 2 - emergency care within one week
  • Category 3 - emergency care with two weeks
  • Category 4 - emergency care within four weeks
  • Category 5 - no emergency care needed.

Category 1 includes people with a swollen face, neck or mouth, people who are bleeding following recent extraction, people less than 14 years of age with teeth or gum problems following an accident and people aged over 80.

How the dental priority tool works

The dental priority tool collects information about the person, either from the person directly or from referral documentation. The Community health priority tools document explains the categories.

Reviewed 29 May 2015


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