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If all you want for Christmas is your two front teeth — and all the rest of them, for that matter — the University of Otago Dental School has a deal for you.
A change in the teaching programme next year means the school urgently needs to find between 40 and 50 people who require a new full set of dentures.
The false teeth will be manufactured by students — under close supervision — as part of their course work.
The school offers dentures at $395 for one jaw and $790 for both: private surgery could cost up to three times more.
"The most likely patients will be elderly, but there will be some who won’t be," oral rehabilitation lecturer Prof Karl Lyons said.
"It does take some time so it is really valuable time for students who learn how to question patients, and the patients often enjoy the social interaction as well."
Students learn to manufacture both partial plates and full sets of dentures, and a change in what years in their course they learnt those skills meant extra denture patients were needed next year.
Although most dentists contracted out the manufacture of dentures, it was important they understood the process of how they were made so they could explain what was going on to patients, Prof Lyons said.
"They need to be able to say what has happened and why it has happened, and what happens at certain steps, such as when the dentures look finished but they are very loose.
"They need to be able to tell the patient why that is and know that the finished dentures won’t be."
The average set of dentures needed eight to 10 appointments, school production laboratory technical services manager Steve Swindells said.
"If you don’t like a set of dentures, we can change them but at certain parts of the process it becomes much harder, so it is better to have good communication with the patient."
Potential patients will be assessed in February, treatment beginning in March and full sets of dentures ready for wear in September.