The clinic, based at the Bromley Road Dental Surgery in Colchester, is already being used to teach and supervise students undertaking patient treatment on the new MSc programmes in periodontology and advanced periodontal practice.
Six training surgeries are already up and running and by the end of the summer there will also be a state-of-the-art dental skills laboratory in use.
During the official opening, Dr Hurley said the ‘energy, drive, concept and execution of this endeavour has been amazing’ and stressed that the new teaching facility was a step towards ‘futureproofing’ the dental profession.
This facility is the latest development in the university’s growing oral health provision, which is delivered at the University’s Colchester and Southend campuses and that already includes the largest dental hygienist and therapist training programme in the UK.
The courses being taught at Bromley Road are targeted at dentists and other dental care professionals who want to extend their skills and knowledge base.
The clinic is one of only a handful of places in the country where advanced periodontology is taught – a specialist area of dentistry involving the supporting structures of teeth and their diseases. However, what makes this clinic special is that it is the only place in England to teach these courses in a non-teaching hospital setting, with students having access to patients in a general dental practice setting and working in a manner reflective of their everyday working lives.
The new teaching facility is a step towards enhancing the dental treatments available to patients in a primary care setting, which may prove more cost-effective than in a traditional teaching hospital.
‘I’m delighted in the interest that this development has received from within the dental profession,’ said Professor Phil Cannell, lead for oral health science at the University of Essex. ‘Our goals are to provide high quality education to further develop the skills and knowledge of dental professionals which will in turn lead to enhanced care for patients.’
Nick Barker, one of the principal dentists at Bromley Road Surgery, said: ‘I hope it will be a successful model for the future and something that will give patients support and access to more advanced care. I would hope that this kind of facility can be replicated in other regions of the country.’