University expands training facility to help meet the demand for more dental professionals

The Chief Dental Officer for England, Sara Hurley, has unveiled an expanded dental education facility that will further enhance the training opportunities available to future generations of dentists and dental therapists.

The new space forms part of the Simulated Dental Learning Environment (SDLE) operated by the University of Plymouth’s Peninsula Dental School.

It features 18 state-of-the-art dental simulators, also known as phantom heads, where undergraduate students learn the principles of dental practice.

This new space takes the total number of phantom heads in the University’s three SDLE sites to 93, reinforcing its status as the leading provider of healthcare education in the South West.

From the first week of their programmes, students on the BDS Dental Surgery and BSc (Hons) Dental Therapy and Hygiene programmes work out of the SLDEs.

In them, they are able to practise a full repertoire of dental procedures in a safe environment before they move on to human patients.

The Plymouth SDLE is also used by postgraduate students on a range of programmes, and for various aspects of continuing professional development (CPD).

Amid a national crisis in access to NHS dentistry, it is hoped this enlarged facility could play an even greater role in increasing the number of graduates entering the profession.

Sara Hurley, who was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University in 2017, said: “Every time I visit the Peninsula Dental School, I am immensely impressed by the quality of the facilities, the staff and the students. The way people are able to work hands-on, and eyes-on, from such an early point in their programmes is unbelievable and this expanded facility will only enhance that. Combined with the opportunity to work in the community, offered through the Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise, it means students – and the patients they will treat in the future – could not be in better hands.”

Professor Chris Tredwin, Head of the Peninsula Dental School, added: “Over the past decade, we have gone from having 32 dental simulators at our sites in Plymouth, Exeter and Truro to 93. It has created one of the largest dental training facilities of its kind in the UK, and an outstanding space in which to equip students with the professional and personal approach they will need in their careers. It is already having a marked impact on the number of dentists and dental therapists entering the profession, something that is of critical importance now and for the future.”

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