HAPPY TO HELP: Three local dentists participating in the service Dr Cecilia Mwanje, Dr Benjamin Mansell and Dr Cathy Do.
HAPPY TO HELP: Three local dentists participating in the service Dr Cecilia Mwanje, Dr Benjamin Mansell and Dr Cathy Do. Matt Deans

Volunteering their expertise for Coffs

DENTISTS from Coffs Harbour didn't hesitate to put their hands up when a call came from the hospital's emergency department for help in managing dental emergencies.

Nearly 30 community-minded dentists volunteered their services.

The Emergency Dental On-Call Service pilot project started in July and will see dentists volunteering their time to help medical colleagues manage uncertain dental situations.

The rostered service will provide a consulting dentist each weekend and a list of emergency dental service options.

Oral conditions are the third-highest reason for preventable hospital admissions in Australia, accounting for more than 63,000 hospitalisations annually.

Each year, on average, more than 2200 people are hospitalised with oral health conditions within the North Coast Primary Health Network from Tweed Heads to Port Macquarie.

Program organisers - Dr Kate Amos and Kirsty Christensen - see the vountary dental emergency service aims to enhance definitive management and follow-up care.

"Ultimately, we would like to see fewer dental complaints reaching our ED colleagues. But for now, improving the processes that occur when a patient presents with a dental emergency is our priority.”

Area Health acting CEO Sharyn White said the pilot was a great example of how the PHN can develop local solutions to local problems.

"This was a problem identified by the PHN's Coffs Harbour Clinical Council and then the members worked to broker a local solution. I love seeing these clinician-led initiatives and think we, as an organisation, need to continue to learn how to facilitate more of them.”

The pilot program will run for 12 months, with evaluation occurring throughout. If the service is successful it may be extended.