Adelaide's TAFESA has opened its spectacular new Centre for Dental Studies to provide state of the art facilities for South Australian dental students.
The new facility at the Gilles Plains campus was opened by South Australia's Minister for Employment, Training & Further Education, The Honourable Paul Caica on July 21 and will help address the massive shortage of dental assistants and other dental professionals in South Australia.
The new centre will provide practical training for 267 students ranging from Certificate and Associate Diploma level Dental Assistants through to Hygienists and Dental Technicians studying for the Advanced Diploma of Oral Health and Diploma of Dental Technology.
The modern facility is also used for practical training for fifth year Bachelor of Dental Science students from Adelaide University and will provide dental care to some 3,000 SA Dental Service public patients every year.
Clinical Director, Dr Troy Longbottom, said Adelaide TAFE's Dental Hygiene program had been renowned nationally and internationally for many years as providing an exceptional level of clinical education and experience, producing vocationally trained and highly 'workready' graduate Hygienists.
"This expansion and modernisation of the clinic is very important to maintain these standards into the future by giving students access to the latest equipment and technology."
Dr Longbottom said there was an ever increasing demand for Dental Assistants and Hygienists in South Australia, with the number of Dental Assisting students tripling in recent years.
Despite this increase, Dr Longbottom said there was room for further growth in student intakes in response to industry need in both Government and private clinics and the new centre would help cater for this demand.
"The newly expanded clinic with its large state of the art surgeries provides more opportunity for our Dental Assisting students to work one-on-one with student dentists in an environment which emulates the facilities and team structure in the industry."
He added that the availability of modern equipment was essential in developing the correct technique and represented a 'quantum leap' over the equipment which it replaced.
"The students were overwhelmed with the new clinic and the quality of the equipment makes a difference to their professionalism. If you want them to behave professionally you need to give them the tools to do it," Dr Longbottom said.
The new clinic features 28 A-dec chairs, including 23 brand new A-dec 500 traditional delivery units and five units including some relatively new A-dec 500 and A-dec Radius chairs which were relocated from the old facility.
Each of the chairs is equipped with the latest W&H handpieces, Satelec scalers and A-dec Deluxe electronic touchpads.
The clinic also includes three x-ray rooms and a fully equipped sterilization room complete with a hospital grade sterilizer and Miele washer disinfector, two benchtop autoclaves and two W&H Assistinas for handpiece maintenance.
Dr Longbottom said the choice of dental units was influenced by features, reliability and the ability to easily adapt to both right and left-handed operation by students.
"The ability to have both left and right handed operation was an important criteria in a teaching facility and reliability is absolutely essential. The reliability of the equipment has been great and there have been absolutely no worries about the chairs. You cannot afford to have non-functioning chairs as it will ruin the entire week of the students if your equipment spends half its time in maintenance and repairs."
To minimize disruption to the teaching program, the installation was conducted by Dental Concepts of Adelaide over the summer holiday period and completed in time for the first semester of 2008.
"The building and installation went like a dream and was completed right on schedule, commencing immediately after the last class in December and with the first students using the new clinic by March 2008."
In addition to supplying the equipment, A-dec Australia and Dental Concepts, Adelaide also provided training for both staff and students in the correct operation of the equipment.
Speaking after the official opening, Dr Longbottom said the new facility was a showcase of the collaboration between TAFE, SA Dental Service and University of Adelaide to provide the best possible outcome for students and patients alike.
"We have been able to expand our student intake to help keep up with the huge demand for hygienists and dental assistants to meet the demand from the Government and private sectors.
"We are one of only a few facilities providing training in pure dental hygiene instead of Dental Therapy which means a hygienist can be trained in two years instead of three years."
Courses on offer through TAFE SA include skill sets in intra-oral radiography, panoramic radiography (OPG) training, Certificate level courses in Dental Assisting, the Diploma of Dental Technology and the Advanced Diploma of Oral Health (Dental Hygiene).
"Four of the surgeries are used by the SA Dental Service which refers public patients to TAFE and Bachelor of Dental Science students and the fully qualified SADS dentists working from this clinic.
"It's also a great experience for the patients who get treatment from skilled professionals using the latest equipment in a very pleasant setting which is the equal of just about anything in the private sector," Dr Longbottom said.