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Study Oral Health at Otago

    The window to your body’s health.

    Oral health affects everyone every day – and normally most people don’t think about it. Good oral health allows you to speak, smile, kiss, smell, taste, and chew with self-assurance.

    The University of Otago’s Bachelor of Oral Health is an exciting three-year degree programme at New Zealand’s only Faculty of Dentistry, delivering excellent and innovative education in oral health.

    Why study Oral Health?

    Good or bad, oral health impacts on people's daily lives and good oral health can be a big part of living life comfortably. As an oral health therapist, you become part of the dental team, developing the skills to provide dental and periodontal care and to foster lifelong positive oral health attitudes and behaviour in patients. You will also obtain skills in health promotion.

    Career opportunities

    Graduates will meet the requirements for registration as an oral health therapist.

    There is a high demand for oral health graduates. Employment opportunities include working in private dental practices, specialist practices, community-based clinics, iwi-based clinics, and hospital dental clinics.

    Graduates will also be able to apply knowledge about health and disease to health promotion in education, community development, and public policy.

    Postgraduate study and research opportunities include the Master of Oral Health (MOH), Master of Health Sciences (MHealSc), Master of Public Health (MPH), and PhD degrees, as well as postgraduate diplomas.

    Oral Health at Otago

    Who is an oral health therapist?

    An oral health therapist is a highly skilled professional member of the dental team. Oral health therapists have skills in dental hygiene, dental therapy, and oral health promotion. They educate patients about their oral health; preventive care is a key aspect of their work. They are skilled at promoting healthy lifestyles and have a strong awareness of the socio-cultural influences on health. Oral health therapists diagnose and treat oral diseases (such as gum disease and dental decay), and provide quality care for patients of all ages, including restorative care for children and adolescents.

    What will I study?

    The University of Otago's Bachelor of Oral Health is an exciting three-year degree at New Zealand's only Faculty of Dentistry. The programme delivers excellent and innovative education in oral health. Oral Health students work with undergraduate and postgraduate dental and dental technology students. This is made possible because the programme is delivered from within the Faculty of Dentistry.

    From the beginning of your study, you will work as part of a dental team. You will also have constant access to highly qualifed specialist staff. Graduates will be leaders in the field because the programme ensures its teaching and research are continually refined and improved to keep in step with oral health best-practice. The programme also focuses on enabling its students to be well-prepared for lifelong, self-directed learning.

    In the first year of the degree, you will learn how the body works, particularly how oral tissues interact with their environment. You will learn the most effective use of information technology in the study and practice of oral health, and will complete a paper in Māori Society. Clinical practice begins in the first year as well; when you start to develop your clinical skills using models and phantom heads.

    The second year introduces pathology, pharmacology, and medicine relevant to oral health. Students will also study a paper in Sociology and one in Public Health. A large part of the year is spent developing clinical skills by treating patients under supervision. The third (final) year concentrates on further clinical training, community oral health, and oral health promotion. You will also undertake a research project.

    Admission to the programme

    Entry is competitive. To be admitted to the programme, applicants must be eligible to attend university, and should have attained a satisfactory standard in NCEA Level 3 biology or a recognised equivalent.

    Online applications can be made to the Health Sciences Admissions Office website from early August, and close on 15 September of the year preceding enrolment. Late applications may be considered.

    How to apply

    Application information for admission into the Bachelor of Oral Health (BOH) programme is available on the Division of Health Sciences website:

    Oral Health: Guidelines for Admission

    Background required

    In order to study Oral Health, you need to have attained a satisfactory standard in NCEA Level 3 biology or an approved equivalent.

    You will also need to like working with and caring for people, as well as be reasonably fit and healthy


    DEOH papers

    Paper Code Year Title Points Teaching period
    DEOH101 2024 The Body and Its Environment 15 Semester 2
    DEOH102 2024 The Oral Environment: Health and Disease 15 Semester 1
    DEOH103 2024 Oral Informatics 15 Semester 1
    DEOH104 2024 Clinical Oral Health Practice 57 Full Year
    DEOH201 2024 Human Disease and Pharmacology 14 Semester 1
    DEOH202 2024 Oral Health Therapy 1 35 Full Year
    DEOH203 2024 Oral Health Therapy 2 35 Full Year
    DEOH301 2024 Community Oral Health and Oral Health Promotion 15 Semester 1
    DEOH302 2024 Advanced Oral Health Therapy 1 45 Full Year
    DEOH303 2024 Advanced Oral Health Therapy 2 45 Full Year
    DEOH304 2024 Applied Oral Health Research 15 Full Year
    DEOH401 2024 Adult Restorative Dental Care 60 1st Non standard period
    DEOH501 2024 Advanced Principles of Oral Health I 60 Full Year
    DEOH502 2024 Advanced Principles of Oral Health II 60 Full Year
    DEOH580 2024 Research Dissertation 60 Full Year
    DEOH581 2024 Research Dissertation 60 Full Year

    More information

    Contact us

    Faculty of Dentistry
    Tel +64 3 479 7036

    Studying at Otago

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    Regulations on this page are taken from the 2024 Calendar and supplementary material.

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