University of Otago improves dental care access with new facility

15 March 2021

After a soft launch last year, the University of Otago has officially opened its new Auckland Dental Facility in February.

University of Otago Auckland Dental Facility
University of Otago Auckland Dental Facility (Photo credit: Focal Point Photos)

The $28.2-million, two-story, 32-chair building is a world class facility in a multi-cultural area with a diverse range of oral health needs.

To strengthen relationships and partnerships with the Māori and Pacific communities, the faculty will regularly consult with the communities to find out what they need from the clinics and how they can benefit from outreach activities.

The University of Otago partnered with the Counties Manukau District Health Board (DHB) to increase access to subsidized oral health care in South Auckland and fulfills the university’s three objectives of education, research, and serving the community.

“This is an exciting day for the Faculty of Dentistry. The standard of the clinic matches our world-class dental teaching facilities in Dunedin and its position in the community will allow us to make a real difference in improving health outcomes,” said University of Otago Faculty of Dentistry Dean, Professor Mike Morgan.

Last year the facility had about 11 students and now that number is increasing to 29, before reaching a full capacity of 50 students in 2022, which is half of the university’s final-year students.

Facility Clinical Director Dr David Roesslar believes that one of the most crucial impacts the facility could make is increasing the number of dental graduates who work in high needs areas. About half of last year’s graduates now work as dentists in high-needs communities providing much needed accessible treatment for long-term dental problems.

Another lasting affect will be the awareness and education that students provide about the importance of oral health.

Patients are already praising the facility for their treatment of long-neglected dental issues. “We’ve had a lot more impact than we expected, we haven’t even had to advertise for patients. This is a big deal in Auckland,” said Dr Roesslar.

“This provides [students] with an amazing opportunity, not just to learn, but to make a real contribution and become part of the community. We have already seen this happening in the time we have been open. Similarly, we offer oral health practitioners opportunities to continue their dental education.”

The facility provides treatment by appointment only and follows the same successful model as the Faculty of Dentistry in Dunedin, providing quality treatment at an affordable price, acknowledging that patients assist in educating the students.

Professor Morgan says the wide range of learning opportunities will support the education of first-class dental graduates, as “they will leave their education and training experiences with a greater appreciation of the complex needs of our increasingly diverse population.”

Additionally, the facility provides continuing education and training post-graduation to help dental teams across New Zealand maintain their skills and benefit New Zealanders.

Otago Dentistry Facility

  • The facility is designated as a general dental practice. It has 32 treatment chairs and another chair dedicated to teledentistry.
  • The facility’s Simulation Clinic – with artificial heads for practicing dentistry – has 16 fully- equipped stations which also include screens for students and dentists to watch others work, lectures, or patients being treated (teledentistry).
  • The facility’s seminar room’s capacity is up to 50 people.
  • The University of Otago has been New Zealand’s national centre of dentistry since 1907.
  • The Faculty of Dentistry in Dunedin undertakes about 76,000 treatments annually in the city for the public from around the lower South Island. This service has now been extended to South Auckland.

Are you interested to learn more about studying the Bachelor of Dental Surgery at the University of Otago? Please contact OzTREKK’s Australian Dental Schools Admissions Officer at