Data in this chapter are sourced from the National Hospital Morbidity Database (NHMD), and provide information on hospitalisations associated with dental conditions. The NHMD is a collection of records from admitted patient data collection systems in Australian hospitals. 

Dental services are classified according to the Australian Classification of Health Interventions (ACHI). ACHI is the Australian national standard for procedure and intervention coding in Australian hospitals.

Procedures data, that is, the count of procedures classified under ACHI Chapter 06 Dental services is presented in the Dental procedures section below. This data captures all procedures classified as a dental service, including that captured by the two measures described immediately below.  

A further two measures of dental services provided in hospitals are also reported in this chapter:

  • potentially preventable hospitalisations (PPHs) related to dental conditions.
  • hospitalisations for dental procedures requiring general anaesthetic.

There is some overlap between these two indicators. Many PPHs will require a general anaesthetic. However, not all dental care provided under general anaesthetic is for potentially preventable care.

Key terms

  • Potentially preventable hospitalisations: dental conditions: hospitalisations for dental conditions that may not be preventable, but theoretically would not result in hospitalisation if adequate and timely care (usually non-hospital) was received.
  • Procedure: A procedure is defined as a clinical intervention that is surgical in nature, carries a procedural risk, carries an anaesthetic risk, requires specialised training, and/or requires special facilities or equipment only available in an acute care setting. Procedures therefore encompass surgical procedures and also non-surgical investigative and therapeutic procedures.
  • Separations: The total number of episodes of care for admitted patients, which can be the total hospital stays (from admission to discharge, transfer or death) or portions of hospital stays beginning or ending in a change of type care (for example, from acute to rehabilitation) that cease during a reference period. METEOR identifier: 270407.
  • Separation rate: The total number of episodes of care for admitted patients divided by the total number of persons in the population under study. Often presented as a rate per 1,000 or 10,000 members of a population. Rates may be crude or standardised.