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Chronic Disease Oral Health Pilot Project

Royal North Shore Hospital
Project Added:
18 May 2015
Last updated:
25 May 2015

Chronic Disease Oral Health Pilot Project


A Chronic Disease Oral Health Service has been established at Royal North Shore Hospital (RNSH), with a dental officer and oral health therapist. The service provides an expedited course of dental care with a strong focus on oral hygiene for chronic disease patients. A referral pathway to this clinic has been implemented using a referral form that is completed by chronic disease services. 


This project aims to integrate oral health with other chronic disease services and create an expedited pathway for chronic disease patients to access oral health services.


  • The dental concerns of patients with a greater need are addressed in a timely manner, which may have long-term general health benefits.
  • Dental care is incorporated into chronic disease services, which will ensure the dental needs of chronic disease patients are met.
  • An expedited pathway is created between chronic disease services and the dental clinic, to streamline both services and ensure the clinical needs of the patient are met in an efficient manner.

Project Status

Project status: Implementation - The initiative is currently being piloted.

Project dates

Start date: 16  May 2014.

Anticipated completion date: 30  December 2015.


The dental clinic at RNSH treats a large number of elderly patients and those with multiple co-morbidities. Often patients are provided with ‘emergency only’ or ‘problem-based’ treatment. Oral disease can be classified as both a chronic disease and a disease that impacts other chronic diseases. If patients with chronic disease and concomitant dental disease can be offered an expedited clinical pathway for comprehensive dental treatment, it may provide oral health as well as general health benefits.


A new Chronic Disease Oral Health Clinic was created within the RNSH Oral Health Department. Stakeholders including the call center, diabetes educators and the transplant clinic were consulted to create a referral process.

The clinic was established and advertised to diabetes educators, complex care coordinators, individual departments and patients. Marketing materials provided to these stakeholders included presentations, posters and a brochure. A referral form was also created to expedite the pathway between oral health and chronic disease services.


  • Clinical Excellence Commission (CEC)


A validated Quality of Life survey will be used to evaluate the program. Dental data records of patients will be examined to assess changes in oral health. A questionnaire will also be provided to patients to evaluate their perception of the program.

Lessons Learnt 

  • The initial response to the project has indicated that it may be beneficial for all patients, rather than only those with a Health Care Card.
  • Transport is a limiting factor, with some chronic disease patients unable to travel to the clinic.

Further Reading

Dental Health Services Victoria. 2011. Links between Oral health and General Health: the case for action.


Shazia Huq
Chronic Disease Dental Officer
Northern Sydney Local Health District
Phone: 02 9462 9650

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