Policy Statement 2.7.2 - Hospital Dental Units

Position Summary

All major hospitals should have a specific dental unit that is appropriately staffed and equipped to deal with dental treatment and emergencies.


1. Background

1.1. Some hospitals have dental units which provide the following services usually in partnership with medical and surgical departments and specialists:

  • after hours emergency service; 
  • maxillofacial and craniofacial services for trauma and head neck cancer patients;
  • specialist paediatric dental services; 
  • treatment of complex or medically compromised patients;
  • treatment of oral conditions that arise as a consequence of patients’ medical conditions or treatment thereof;
  • preparation of patients pre-surgery; and
  • craniofacial and oral rehabilitation of patients post-surgery.


1.2. Patients with multifaceted medical complexities and physical disabilities who are unsuitable for day care surgery often require in-patient admission for comprehensive dental treatment, usually under general anaesthetic.

1.3. Patients whose medical status could be compromised by dental disease and are unable to receive treatment other than in a hospital setting, require timely access to Hospital Dental Units.

1.4. As the demand for hospital-based medical services and the complexity of these services increases so too will the need for related dental services.

1.5. Some children may require lifelong special dental care due to the nature of their disease or disability. There is often a void in the continuity of care as they become adults.

1.6. Hospital dental units provide the following educational experiences:

  • multidisciplinary management of medically, physically and/or mentally impaired patients; management of dental and medical emergencies;
  • oral and maxillofacial surgical and prosthetic training;
  •  specialist paediatric dental training;
  • special needs dentistry training;
  •  clinical research in various fields; and
  •  management of craniofacial syndrome patients.



1.7. HOSPITAL DENTAL UNIT is a dedicated facility with staff and equipment to cater for the dental needs of all patients of the hospital.

1.8. MENTORING is a mutually- beneficial relationship which involves a more experienced person helping a less experienced person to achieve their goals.


2. Position

2.1. Major hospitals should have a dental unit to provide for emergency and special dental needs of patients of the hospital.

2.2. Hospital dental units should provide a resident- level training position to ensure future workforce development in the field.

2.3. The minimum physical requirements for a medical hospital dental unit are outlined in the Australasian Health Facilities Guidelines.

2.4. Hospital dental units should have operating theatre access without disparity to other health disciplines.

2.5. Plans for the continuity of oral health care must be in place for patients who are leaving a specialised dental unit.

Approved by Federal Council

Document Version:
November 2023
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Policy Statement 2.7.2

Adopted by ADA Federal Council, April 16/17, 2009. 
Amended by ADA Federal Council, November 15/16, 2012.
Amended by ADA Federal Council, August 25/26, 2016.
Editorially amended by Constitution & Policy, October 5/6, 2017.
Amended by ADA Federal Council, November 22, 2019.
Amended by ADA Federal Council, August 21, 2020.
Amended by ADA Federal Council, November 17, 2023.