27 Aug 2018

New dentistry facility to meet needs in South Auckland

5:44 pm on 27 August 2018

University of Otago will start building a new dental training facility and treatment clinic in South Auckland later this year.

An artist’s impression of the University of Otago dental teaching facility and patient treatment clinic.

An artist's impression of the University of Otago dental teaching facility which will be built in South Auckland. Photo: Supplied/University of Otago

The $28 million facility will be built on land owned by the Counties Manukau District Health Board at its Manukau Super Clinic.

At any one time, almost 50 final-year dentistry students will be based at the clinic, which will have 32 dental chairs.

The clinic would help meet some of the high health needs in the local community, the university said in a statement.

Pro-Vice-Chancellor of health sciences Paul Brunton said patients would be able to receive treatment from students, under supervision, at a highly accessible cost.

In turn, the university said the clinic would provide students with diverse, practical learning opportunities and increase their understanding of people from different backgrounds.

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David Clark announcing a new $28 million dental training facility and treatment clinic in South Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Sarah Robson

Health Minister David Clark said, once open, the clinic could treat almost 19,000 patients a year.

Those patients, mostly adults, would pay about $40 for the appointment.

Dr Clark said cost was a big reason why adults did not go to the dentist.

"We know that a lot of people currently don't attend at all because of cost and the more we can bring that barrier down the better," Dr Clark said.

"Of course DHBs [District Health Boards] provide services for those who are at the hardest end of the spectrum, as a part of in-patient service, but this will mean there will be more access to care for more people."

Dr Clark said the clinic could also treat some children and adolescents from the community oral health service.

DHB director of hospital services Phillip Balmer said the new facility was a positive step in addressing disparities in oral health within the population.

"We recognise that poor oral health causes poor overall health, and we are always looking for service development initiatives to improve these indicators," he said.

"There is a higher prevalence of tooth decay affecting Māori and Pacific communities within Counties Manukau and having a dental school in Counties Manukau will make it much easier for our community to access the care they need."

Construction is due to start later this year and be completed in 2020.

The country's only school of dentistry is based in Dunedin.

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