Dental building gets thumbs-up

Dunedin woman Lisa McLean is treated at the clinical services building by the University of Otago...
Dunedin woman Lisa McLean is treated at the clinical services building by the University of Otago dental student Hetal Shukla. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Going to the dentist can be a painful experience - but the new University of Otago clinical services building is "fantastic" and a far cry from the old facility, where a chair once broke under her, a dental patient says.

The new clinical services building opened its doors to non-emergency patients in the second week of the month, and among the first patients in was Lisa McLean.

She was treated by 25-year-old Hetal Shukla, who is in her final year of dentistry.

Ms McLean, whose children also got dental work done at the dental school, said she had been a patient for three or four years.

"It's fantastic. It's definitely a lot cleaner and tidier as well."

The new building was more comfortable and a much better environment for families, Ms McLean said.

It was also more pleasant because of the lack of background noise - and the new dental chairs that had been put in were much better.

In the past, one of the old chairs had broken when she was there for dental treatment, she said.

More than 200 state-of-the art dental chairs from German manufacturer Dentsply Sirona have been put into the building.

Ms Shukla described the new building as "quite a change" and said it was much easier to keep track of records with the new computerised system.

"It represents what we'll be seeing once we are out and start working," Ms Shukla said.

At present, work was continuing on the old clinical services building, the Walsh Building, which would be stripped to bare concrete before research, academic offices, student support and teaching spaces were moved in.

Clinical director Dr Don Schwass, a specialist prosthodontist, said he went through training in the 1980s, and the chairs used then were about 10 years old.

"We've gone from that to state of the art," he said.

The current equipment was "very sophisticated" and the idea was that all dental procedures available could be carried out in each dental bay.

There was a separate floor housing specialist suites and orthodontic and paediatric units, and the instrument store at the bottom of the building was about the size a store would be in a "moderate hospital", Dr Schwass said.

"We used to have four separate sterilising facilities around the building."

Some work in the new building, including work on a common area, was still in progress.

Dr Schwass said staff offices were scattered around the university and he was looking forward to next year, when work would be complete and "everyone can come back together".

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