The UK’s first new dental school and hospital in nearly 40 years, the £78 million Royal London Dental Hospital, officially opens its doors.
Queen Mary University of London’s (QMUL) new dental school, embedded within the new Barts Health NHS Trust dental hospital in Whitechapel, houses the most modern and technologically advanced dental facilities in the UK, following more than a decade of planning and work.
The brand-new surroundings will mean a vastly improved patient experience for the local population, with increased privacy and dignity for those being treated and enhanced infection control.
Professor Mike Curtis, dean for dentistry at the Queen Mary University of London, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, said: 'Today is an exciting day for our dental school.
'Not only will the new facilities hugely improve the student learning experience, it will also enable us to build on our existing reputation for world-class research and innovation and excellence in patient care.'
Nearly half (46%) of five-year-old children in Tower Hamlets experience tooth decay – the highest rate of all the London boroughs.
Rates of oral, head and neck cancer in adults are also higher in Tower Hamlets than national averages.
Recently ranked the top dental school in the UK, QMUL will train around 400 dental students in the new facilities each year, making up an active part of the hospital’s clinical workforce.
The new facilities aim to significantly improve the educational experience for dental students, providing access to cutting edge technology and training.
Dr Philip Taylor, clinical director for dentistry at the Queen Mary University of London and Barts Health NHS Trust, said: 'Dentistry involves far more than simply fillings, crowns and braces.
'Procedures such as oral rehabilitation and facial reconstruction are complex and it’s crucial for us to continue training new dentists with the most up-to-date technology and techniques to ensure our patients get the best care now and into the future.
'We hope the opening of the new dental school will soon pave the way for us to expand our educational offering for the next generation of dentists.'
The move to the new five-storey premises took place over a six-week period in spring 2014, ready to provide care for the 70,000 patient appointments that will take place at the hospital each year.
Clinical functionality and innovative technology are at the very heart of the new surroundings.
The new design stemmed from collaboration with dentists and dental nurses, enabling staff to lead the way in patient care, education and clinical research.
The new dental hospital and school will conduct world-leading treatment and research in areas such as maxillofacial surgery, facial trauma, haemophilia and Bechet's syndrome.
Staff are also pioneering new and unique monitoring of eating disorders using advanced and rare facial and body scanning equipment.
Occupying an area equivalent to almost three football pitches, the new dental hospital includes:
- 111 dental operatories with high-tech digital operation and lighting
- 22 self-contained rooms for complex consultations and treatments
- State-of-the-art facial scanning equipment
- Cutting-edge digital imaging technology
- Sophisticated interactive teaching equipment including 72 technologically advanced patient simulation centres
- 32 operating microscopes to enhance operative capability
- Superb laboratory facilities with CAD (computer aided design) and CAM (computer aided manufacturing) technology.
Improving dental health of the local community of Whitechapel and beyond is also central to the aims of the new dental school and hospital.
Professor Mike Curtis concludes: 'We are extremely proud to be situated in Whitechapel, teaching and providing clinical care to the thriving and diverse populations of east London.
'Our local communities face some of the most challenging health needs of anywhere in the UK, and the new dental hospital has a key role to play in benefiting our community, as part of Queen Mary’s continued investment in local surroundings and patient-focussed research.'