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Dental hospitals improving oral health through specialised care, training and research

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Dental hospitals not only treat us when we present with a problem; they also train the dentists of tomorrow and host research projects that advance our understanding of oral health.


Training the future workforce and specialists

Within the United Kingdom, there are sixteen dental hospitals, and a further two dental school clinics, that not only deliver specialist care for patients with teeth-related problems, but play a wider role in protecting and promoting oral health for all. Most of these hospitals work closely with university dental schools to provide the clinical environment for dentists-in-training. Under close supervision, many patients are seen by students who are learning clinical skills and studying for entry onto the dental register. The hospitals also train dental hygienists, therapists, nurses and technicians.

Dental hospitals play an important role in training the dental specialists of the future. Almost all the clinics will have a dentist training to become a specialist working as part of the team. Dental hospitals are therefore very important in helping to ensure that we have well trained dental specialists for the future.  

Providing a wide variety of care

Most patients are referred to dental hospitals by dentists or doctors because they require specialist care. This could include:

  • Oral surgery, which deals with the treatment and ongoing management of irregularities and pathology of the jaw and mouth requiring surgery;
  • Orthodontics, the correction and prevention of abnormalities often using braces;
  • Paediatric dentistry;
  • Restorative dentistry – complex treatments to replace missing or damaged teeth;
  • Oral pathology, concerning diseases of the mouth;
  • Oral medicine, the specialty of dentistry concerned with the oral health care of patients with chronic, recurrent and medically related disorders of the mouth;
  • Oral radiology

Some patients with complex problems are seen by several specialists, to ensure the best possible care. A child with cleft lip and palate will be seen not only by a paediatric dentist, but also by a restorative dentist who will decide how to replace any missing teeth. An orthodontist will then ensure that the teeth are in the best position, and a surgeon will help reconstruct the missing tissue. 

Dental hospitals not only treat us when we present with a problem; they also train the dentists of tomorrow and host research projects that advance our understanding of oral health.

In most dental hospitals, there are dedicated dental laboratories where dental technicians make dentures, crowns, bridges and ‘braces’. The co-location of the laboratory and clinical areas, within hospitals, enables the technicians to work alongside dentists to optimise patient care.

Some of the specialist clinics within dental hospitals are also supported by other allied health professionals. Speech and language therapists work closely with the orthodontists for patients with complex developmental problems. Clinical psychologists also help support those patients with chronic pain and dental phobias. 

Research

Working alongside local or linked universities, the hospitals also support dental research. Academics working in the dental schools and hospitals conduct research to establish best practice in professionalism, preventative advice and clinical treatments.

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